I figured I should wait until I had returned to Japan safely, with all of my bags returned to me before I posted this, just in case I jinxed myself with more bad luck. Many of you have heard parts of this tale, but I thought I should put it down here just the same...
I flew from Tokyo two weeks ago, with stops in San Francisco and Vancouver en route home to Prince George. San Fran was absolute madness with most flights delayed and absolutely nobody at the gates to help or answer questions. My flight to Vancouver was 3 hours delayed which meant that the nice long stopover that was supposed to give me enough time to have dinner with my relatives disappeared completely. I arrived but hadn't cleared customs when my PG flight, the last of the day, departed (on-time, for a change!). On the bright side, I still got my dinner (and breakfast too!) with my relatives in Vancouver and managed to get out standby on the first flight the next morning, December 23rd. Unfortunately my bags didn't make it to PG on the same flight, but I was assured that they would be put on a flight as soon as possible and delivered to the house. With the pre-Christmas rush and all the presents everybody was taking, however, the little planes were running up against a weight limit. Finally on Christmas Eve we got a call that one of my bags had arrived in PG. The man I spoke to said that while they didn't normally, they would be making a special late night run, delivering my bag (perhaps the other would be on the last flight of the night) in the early hours of the morning.
Christmas Eve dad and I had gotten our tree set up and almost fully decorated when it crashed - tipping over and sending needles and glass ball shards in a wide arc. We managed to get the tree back up and most of the mess cleaned up and dad went to bed at 3 am. I stayed up, hoping that my bags would be delivered. Remember at this point that I had no Christmas presents to put under the tree, and only whatever clean clothing I had left at my dad's. By 6:30 am I figured that my bags would not be delivered and went to bed. Dad was woken up at 7:30 by a phone call telling him that my bags had arrived and would shortly be delivered to the house. The lady calling had no clue that we had gotten calls the night beforehand, that we had been promised my bags the night beforehand, or that I had called and left a message at 6:30. My bags were delivered a couple of hours later and I got up at 10 to unpack them. When I unzipped my suitcase, however, I discovered that my clothes and presents were soaking wet. The bag likely sat out on the runway in Vancouver for the entire time and got rained on. Luckily nothing was irrevocably damaged, but I had to wait still longer for clean clothes!
Thus ended the first half of my journey. While the first half was undeniably the most harrowing, the second half was no cakewalk.
I flew back down to Vancouver on the 3rd and spent a few days with my relatives, returning to Tokyo on the 5th/6th via Seattle. Since the two flights were with different carriers while they could tag my bags all the way through, I could only check in for the first leg, and then check in at the gate in Seattle. My flight to Seattle was only an hour delayed, and I didn't have to leave the secure area at the SeaTac airport, but following some bad directions and my own stupidity I got on the wrong shuttle and ended up at the very opposite end of the airport and had to retrace my steps and take three separate shuttles to get to the gate, 30 minutes before departure. The overbooked flight was already taking volunteers to give up their seats but the harried and exceedingly rude gate crew got me on the flight. Having barely made the transfer myself I was not surprised to learn that my bags did not make it, having to wait a full day for the next flight to Tokyo. I had been planning on having my bags delivered as I did not want to have to lug them on and off the trains and bus I took to get back to the dorm, so having the airline deliver them was a cheaper alternative, but that still meant I had to wait nearly 48 hours to be reunited with my bags.
Thankfully, however, all of that is now behind me and I'm not planning an international flight for a good number of months yet! That isn't to say, of course, that I didn't have a good time in Canada, and that I wouldn't do it again in a heartbeat! But, as I settled into my middle seat in the crowded plane, I vowed to fly direct to Vancouver from now on!