The wake up call comes at 4:30. By 5:00 we are enroute to the airport. By 8:00 we are in the air. The flight is 10 hours. A little bit on the long side, but the kids are managing it beautifully. We are about 1.5 hours from Vancouver when the captain comes on to announce that there is a medical emergency and we need to set down, so we are turning around and landing in Iqauluit, BAFFIN ISLAND.
So the first thing in my mind is this: I don’t care how sick I am feeling – I think I’d rather hold out until Vancouver, but that’s just me. The second thing is this: if the medical emergency is the woman four rows ahead who is standing around talking and looking absolutley fine I’m going to be choked. The third thing in my mind is: COOL! we can check out the island – what a bonus!
As it turns out, it is the woman four rows ahead. She had complained of chest pains and alerted the staff, who in turn requested a doctor, who revealed himself, who in turn declared her fine. Then the bureaucracy sets in and the flight crew contact the doctor on call for the airline, who in turn does not want any liability like a misdiagnosis, who in turn advises the pilot to put down as quickly as possible, who in turn backtracks to BAFFIN ISLAND. So we land, and the paramedics eventually make their way to the plane and each and every one of them takes turns coming on board to examine her. And then they spend over an hour convincing her that she needs to get off the plane. She refuses. She has no intention of getting off on BAFFIN ISLAND. Eventually she does – she walks off quite capably by herself and the pilot prepares for take off.
It quickly seems like he has decided to drive the plane into town to fill up, because we are just cruising around the runway. He then comes on to inform us that the thruster gear is stuck, and in turn needs to leave the plane and go make a phone call, and in turn informs us that he has not been able to fix it with the help of the Montreal ground crew, and in turn needs to call in a local qualified mechanic, who in turn does eventually fix it, so we can be on our way. This is FIVE HOURS LATER. We have not been allowed to leave the plane because of customs issues, so we have been sitting ON THE RUNWAY FOR FIVE LONG HOURS. I notice that the heart burn woman is now quietly back in her seat. Crisis averted.
So we are airborne. The pilot comes on to tell us all about the problem and how the legal amount of a duty day is seventeen hours, and how they had exceeded that and how they had to call the FAA for approval for one extra hour so that they could fly us to MONTREAL and how we were almost grounded in Iqualuit by a matter of minutes. So the flight to Montreal is going to be 2 hours and 47 minutes – you do the math – that is more than one extra hour. He then informs us that they will refurbish the plane, because in the five hours that we sat on the runway, we almost turned into cannibals and ate everything on board. A good smaritan local airport employee got into his car and went to the grocery store to buy all the fruit they had for our flight to Montreal. We are allowed to leave the plane into a contained gate at the airport while they turn around the crew and contents and then we are airborne again for another 5 hours. We ultimately land in Vancouver after 23 hours straight on plane – just before midnight, local time.
We are finally home!