Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 6 (April 10th) - Snow Storm in Calgary, Lost in Vancouver

The sixth day of the week was obviously the most unfortunate one. The day started with a long queue for checkout (seems that many teams depart at 6am), after which we boarded the Brewster bus operating for Banff Airporter. At 6am, the weather was quite clear (although cloudy) in Banff, but as we came nearer to Calgary, the snow started.
Soon, it turns into a foggy snow storm and our bus had to slow down and get stuck in the snow a couple of times. The city of Calgary was soon buried by a quite thick layer of snow. At that time, I already guessed that airport won't be able to operate due to the limited visibility.

By the time we arrived in the Airport, we checked-in normally (as the flights has not been canceled yet). It is quite unique process since we check in by entering our data into an automated counter, specifying the number of checked baggage, and grab our boarding pass from the machine. The machine also printed a couple of coupons to be used to check our baggage with the officers (it is actually quite an efficient process, and seems like it's a common practice in North America).

After checking in, we spent some time having breakfast in Tom Tim Hortons (a local burger restaurant chain). I also bought some chocolates in one of the shops. Many of us decided to spend our coins since we won't need much of them anyway in Vancouver (short transit only).

As the boarding time came nearer, we go into the security check. Tips: if you're carrying some liquid, aerosol, or gels within the allowed limit, you'd better put it beforehand into some sort of plastic bag, which will save your time (and other peoples' time) during the security check. It was also a common practice for the security checking to require notebooks to be screened outside the carrying case or bag, so be prepared for that as well.

(The aircraft was there, but the snow keeps falling)

We waited near the boarding gate, and started to get worried because it still snows heavily outside, and seems to get worse as well. The gatekeeper did not inform us about possible flight cancellation, instead pointed that "the plane is already there". I checked the flight departure information and found out that there were no flights departing since 7am in the morning... An inbound flight out there had troubles approaching the gate for disembarkation as well, so at that point we actually should've been worrying...

(Originally we're bound to depart from Gate A14)

(Peoples are still waiting for the flight)

At about 15 to 30 minutes past the scheduled departure time, our Air Canada flight was finally officially canceled. We were told that we had to re-book our flight to a later one with Air Canada reservations, and we had to reclaim our baggage (and check it in again later on). Probably this procedure is to allow peoples to cancel their travel due to the delay (and choose some other way), instead of forcing all of the passengers to wait for the delayed flight (to think of it, it reduces the company's average duration of delays as well, since flights don't get delayed but rather canceled).

(There was another ICPC team waiting also)

Realizing that we are in trouble, Ms. Henny called Singapore Airlines office in Vancouver and was able to get a rescheduled flight back home which is for two days later (departs on Saturday the 12th of April). We also got rebooked to another Air Canada flight which is bound to depart at around 2pm in the same day. The whole rebooking process took some 2 to 3 hours, but finally we are set.

(It was still snowing heavily outside)

The second time around check-in process was quite tiring. There were not a LOT of people queuing (because many of them got their flight canceled previously as well), and the whole process took somewhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour (previously it was only 15 minutes). While queuing, there was a TV station recording its news report about the effect of the heavy snow storm to the aviation operation (seems that it's a rare occasion when snow storm comes in mid-April which is supposedly spring already).

Having no other thing to do until the rescheduled flight departs, we decided to have some lunch in the airport. The snow storm finally ended at around midday, after putting some 30-50cm thick layer of snow on the tarmac. The airport operations had to operate some snowplow machines to clear some part of it before the flights started to depart and arrive again.

(Having some lunch in the airport's food court)

(The weather got better at around noon)

After some security check (again!) and spending some time waiting, we finally departed from Calgary in the clear weather (phew!). Nothing much happened until we got to Vancouver (there's no snow there, although it's not that far away from Calgary).

(Finally, we're in Vancouver)

Our previously-scheduled Singapore Airlines flight had departed by the time we arrived in Vancouver (around 3pm), so we had to find some hotel to stay in. After some rounds of walking around the Vancouver Airport (well, it's not that big actually), we decided to stay in the Quality Inn, a hotel located near to the airport. The hotel provides airport shuttle, so we had no problem getting there. A credit card really comes in handy while traveling far from home, as the platinum MasterCard I had saved some amount of money needed as deposits when checking in to the hotel (we're running low on cash since we're supposed to have left Canada at that time anyway).

It was already 5 to 6pm by the time we got to our rooms (costs around the same amount with hotels in Singapore). We spent some time contacting family members (as well as Binus executives) back in Jakarta (quite troublesome since it's still 3 to 4am in the morning in Jakarta). Thanks to the fast internet connection, it was a lot easier (and less costly) .

(The view of Vancouver's suburb from the hotel room)

We had our dinner in Subway (a fastfood restaurant) located just across the street from the hotel. Spending some time accessing the internet (consulting the next day's plan with Anastasia) I finally called it a day (a long one...).

Continue to Day 7

-Andrian Kurniady

(All photos are copyrighted, please ask for permission before reproducing)


Andrian Kurniady’s Blog » Day 5 (April 9th) - ACM ICPC World Finals, Awards, and Celebration said...

[...] Continue to Day 6 [...]

flanflygirl said...

so you actually have two bonus day in Canada. haha. it's fun, you know. although the "checking" part is not that fun though.. :P

Andrian Kurniady’s Blog » ACM ICPC World Finals 2008 - Banff, Canada said...

[...] Day 6 (April 10th) - Snow Storm in Calgary, Lost in Vancouver [...]

Anastasia said...

well, it's actually "Tim Hortons" not tom...
and they have THE BEST French Vanilla here.
Sadly to say, even better that Starbucks' custom order ;p

Xander Lawson said...

I'm impressed the shuttle was able to get you to the airport in that weather. One of the very few others that can do that is the local sydney airport transport system.

Unknown said...

I think the air philippines flights were also improving their shuttle services to be able to satisfy the needs of their passegers, which I think was very thoughtful and considerate. I hope all the airline companies do have this kind of vision and sense of service as well.