2 weekends ago I was in Philadelphia teaching Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with Tony Gentilcore (dates still coming up in Edmonton, Sydney and Melbourne Australia). At least I was supposed to be, but life had other plans for me that weekend.
You see, one of the unfortunate elements of travel by air is that you’re at the mercy of a lot of “stuff” that’s really out of your control. First, the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, which had shown a tendency to want to fall out of the air, wound up being pulled from service for major airlines, meaning a shortage of planes overall and overbooking on the remaining flights to meet demand.
Second, once I was in Toronto waiting to transfer to my flight to Philly, weather issues started cropping up, making the potential of severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes a reality around Philly at about the time we were supposed to be flying and landing. This caused a 90 minute flight delay, then once we boarded the plane and taxied out on to the tarmack, we wound up sitting on the plane on the tarmack waiting to take off for 4 HOURS.
About 6 hours after my flight was supposed to take off, the pilot comes on and says they’ve been given the clear to take off in 20 minutes, but the flight crew shift was set to end in 30 minutes, meaning they had no way to complete the 70 minute flight in time to come in under their federally mandated maximum shift time, therefore the flight was going to be cancelled.
At this point I’m feeling kinda like Charlie Murphy.
It’s late on Friday night, and I’m supposed to be in Philly for Saturday morning to drop mad science on shoulders and hips for a group of awesome fitness professionals. Tony was flying in that night too, and he managed to outlast the delays, a flight crew switch, and make it so he’d be able to open the show without any issues, and I knew he could crush the content like no one’s business.
Because mine wasn’t the only flight cancelled, hitting up ticketing to discuss what my options were to make it to the City of Brotherly Love proceeded to be a less than lovely experience. For one, as it was later at night, there weren’t many people working, there was a lineup around the block of people needing info on flights, and the three agents wound up reducing down to 2 as one conveniently went on break for about an hour. I called customer support, stood in line, and waited to talk to a person on the phone for the next 50 minutes hearing stories of people travelling to Europe, the west coast, etc and who had their flights cancelled. It seems to be a thing that happens at Pearson as I’ve had 3 flights out of there cancelled in my lifetime.
So after explaining my situation to the agent on the phone, I was booked on a morning flight on Sunday.
The workshop was starting in 12 hours and I was stuck in Toronto.
The advice I was given was that the flight on Sunday was booked, but to show up on Saturday and hang out waiting for one of the other 7 daily flights to Philly to get ready to leave and try to get on as a standby.
Any guarantee this would work?
Any business class seat upgrades available? Why yes! For the low cost of $1900 I could have a seat on the last flight of the day on Saturday. Would they cover any part of that cost as a transfer from the cancelled flight? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! You’re funny for asking. Of course not.
So I used points to book a hotel room for one night and paid for another, then texted Tony to let him know he’s running solo for the entirety of Saturday and likely the first half of Sunday. Hopefully no one would be flipping tables and storming out for me not being there.
Now, not knowing the future, I showed up to the airport on Saturday and waited for the majority of the day going from one flight to the next to Philly looking to get on as a standby. All 7 were full with standbys ahead of me. Had I known this would be the case, I would have taken the 19 hour train from Toronto to Philly that had 4 stops along the way, or potentially found a rental car that would allow me to drive to the states and leave it there as I had return flights booked Monday morning. Rental companies love that stuff, right?
I even inquired into a private jet leasing company just to see what it would cost to get a 4 seater one way. The earliest they could do was May 1, which wouldn’t work. I never did get a quote. I’m kinda ticked I didn’t get even a price, even though I wouldn’t have been able to make it work financially, it would still be cool to know.
So there I was, stuck at the airport in Toronto with no way to get to Philadelphia, checking social media updates of the people who were tagging Tony being awesome and having serious FOMO about my own event.
I could be mad, but what would that do? If I were stressed, it would only affect me. Tony was there, shit happens, people seemed to be okay with it, and I was planning to get there as soon as I possibly could.
I could have yelled and screamed at the agents trying to help me get there sooner, but that wouldn’t have made a seat magically appear out of thin air. Also, was I more valued than anyone else trying to get on the same flight? Plus take a stressed out service provider and start screaming at them is a fast way to get hung up on.
Instead, I rolled with it as much as I could. When asking for help, I asked how their day was going, and more than once someone told me they were having a rough one with all the cancellations and challenges that were going on. I told them I appreciated the work they were doing to help me, as I’m sure theirs is a relatively thankless job most of the time. Even though it didn’t result in me getting on an earlier flight, just connecting with someone as a human is better than belittling anyone for my mild inconveniences.
I finally made it to the workshop on Sunday right before lunch, did the best I could with the time I had, connected with as many people as I could, and then Tony was out to fly home on the Sunday evening flight. I managed to get to the AirBnB for one night that Tony had the run of since Friday, and even had a chance to watch Game of Thrones.
Now one of the amazing things about travelling to the states is that America has SO MANY FLAVOURS OF EVERYTHING!! There was a little corner store next to WarHorse Barbell, which hosted the workshop, and they had about 50 different flavours of Ben & Jerrys ice cream. Stuff I’d never heard of or thought could possibly exist. I made a mental note that after the seminar I’d grab a snack before watching Game of Thrones.
Life had other plans.
When I went to get to the store after the workshop and a short dinner, it was closed. Apparently small mom and pop places close on Sunday evenings.
A look on Google maps showed no where in walking distance that could help satisfy a sweet tooth on a Sunday evening. Screw it. Uber Eats for a pint of ice cream would do the job. Don’t judge me. An $8 pint cost 23 and yes it was worth it and delicious as hell.
Of course, the flights home were smooth and uneventful, so I guess that’s something.
Now why did I just spend 1300 words telling you about my #travelwoes?
Because life has a way of getting in the way in any pursuit you may want to tackle, be it travel, working out, nutrition, or anything else.
Have you ever wanted to get to the gym on a regular basis but your boss throws stuff on your desk at 5 and says have it done by morning? Kids have a “forgotten” project due tomorrow that you need to help them with? 5 weddings or work functions involving massive travel and food disruptions? Car trouble or a home renovation needs attention asap? A sudden injury?
You could get mad or stressed and rant and rave about it, but in the end that just beats you up and doesn’t change things. If you can find a way to make it happen, or even just to minimize damage or negative fallout from it, that’s always going to be all that you can do. It will either make for a good story, an experience you can learn from, or something that’s hopefully funny that you can look back at in a few years and have a chuckle.
When things are all breaking down around you, just try to treat those who are trying to help as well as you would hope to be treated if you were in their situation. I’ve worked more than a share of those front-line service jobs, so I know how hard it is, but in many situations they only see negativity. Who knows, maybe asking how someone’s day is going could be all it takes to get a sneaky upgrade, bump an old lady from a flight so you can have her seat, or anything that may be beneficial to you.
At the worst, it won’t make your life any worse.