This was my first time I have flown Delta. I would have preferred to fly Air Canada for the upgrade and the Aeroplan miles but not only didn’t they have a direct flight to Minneapolis but they were much more expensive. Air Berlin matched my status so my next option was a member of oneworld, American Airlines as I might have got access to the lounge. Again no direct flight and more expensive. So Delta it was ($CAD604, for the previous 3 days the ticket was $10 cheaper but CAD lost value vs USD and I didn’t want to risk to wait a few days longer).
My next step was to try to have my Air Canada status matched by one of the SkyTeam members. I could not find a Delta e-mail address but I contacted a few airlines. I was refused by Aerolineas “we can’t match you with our Program since you are a member of a company that doesn’t do Aerolineas Argentinas’ routes” and Korean Air “due to Korean Air elite members’ fairness and equity issues”. My initial plan was to send an e-mail to each SkyTeam member – it doesn’t hurt to ask I reasoned – but I gave up, realizing if it is not a published promotion they won’t match the status.
There were two flights from Vancouver one from 8:30 am and the other one from 12:45 pm. I was tempted to take the earlier flight (same price) in order to have more time to visit Minneapolis, but I decided to take the later flight, it would have been too stressful to make it to the airport in the morning. What if the sky train closes down and other ifs scenarios.
When I bought the ticket I was offered trip cancellation insurance from Allianz as well and I purchased as it was very clearly specified I had 10 days to decide whether I wanted to keep it. Well done Allianz! Usually I buy the insurance separately as I don’t want to feel ‘forced’ into buying something and I like to (actually I don’t like it, but I feel compelled to) shop around. And I checked one more company, the policy was slightly more expensive, perhaps the coverage was different and I didn’t bother to see whether I could get a better deal so Allianz it was.
Now I had to solve the baggage issue. I have a spinner that does not “fit easily in the Carry-on Baggage Check” due to the wheels slightly sticking out. However, with Air Canada I had never had a problem taking it in the cabin and it always fit in the overhead space. However not having any status with Delta I thought they would enforce the rule and I really didn’t want to check in the baggage as for a 3 day trip I wasn’t going to have too much stuff. So I measured and measured and the spinner was slightly over “45 linear inches (or 114 cm) in combined length, width and height, including any handles and wheels”. So in the end I took a duffel bag that again was slightly over the allowed combined length, but not being “solid” I figured I could squeeze it in the “carry-on baggage check” as I wasn’t going to put too many clothes into it. However, at the check-in and the gate no-one checked my baggage, I was kind of disappointed, so much “stress” and work for nothing.
At the airport I filled out the customs form before the check-in as I wanted to move quickly (and I congratulated myself a few times how well prepared I am this time). I wrote the address of the hotel (city but no state), and all the other required information. I didn’t know what state Minneapolis is in (now I know). As a matter of fact I was curious whether the customs officer would ask me about the missing state and complete the form himself. Just a side note ‘Harvard Students Don’t Know The Capital Of Canada‘.
And big surprise just before the customs, there were self service kiosks for entering passport information YVR First Airport to Open Automated Passport Control to Canadians Automated Passport Control helps travellers move more quickly through the CBP preclearance inspection process by allowing entry of passport information at a self-service kiosk. Users respond to a set of simple questions, take a photo and then are issued a receipt that they present to a CBP Officer for a final inspection before completing the process. No pre-registration is necessary and there is no fee involved in participation.
Again I had to answer the questions that were on the paper form, but the one about the food had been slightly changed. The question “Are you bringing fruits, vegetable, nuts, food?” (not sure about the exact wording) got the word “food” dropped. I had a few granola bars so on the paper form I answered “Yes” to this question but on the screen “No”. Now the officer will become suspicious, and I will have to explain why the discrepancy, I thought. So after I was done at the machine, I handed the filled out form to someone as she asked for it and … she put it in the garbage bin. So much trouble for nothing. The customs officer was only interested in the receipt issued by the machine and of course the passport.
So I cleared the customs and with 2 hours to the departure I was having a Starbucks and working. All of a sudden a thick fog started to descend over the airports, and I started to regret I didn’t take the first flight. I started a conversation with an employee of the airport and he told me the fog affects the landing aircraft and usually not the planes that take off. I didn’t know this.
I boarded the plane and no in flight entertainment. Air Canada spoiled me with the IFE and somehow I thought all major airlines have it. The return flight didn’t have IFE either.
The plane was supposed to arrive 6:12 pm in Minneapolis/St. Paul, but it flew so well, at 6:09 I was buying a ticket for the light rail transit. I got change to a $10 bill in $1 coins. I didn’t know there were $1 coins.
I flew back to Vancouver after 3 days (impressions about the city and its attractions to follow) and as I wanted to clear the Canadian customs quickly so this time I had a pen in my pocket prepared to fill out the customs form the moment it was was handed in. Again I congratulated myself on how prepared I was. And, … they ran out of forms. It had been first time for me they didn’t have forms for everyone and I fly out of Canada and back at least once a year. The plane landed, door opened and I dashed to the customs. Grabbed a custom form, tried to fill it out and … my pen didn’t work, and I tried a few times, it must have run out of ink. So I had to use one of the pens that were available, felt I lost a few precious seconds here. I had bought a fridge magnet in the Minneapolis airport so I declared it (I was told or I read somewhere that it looks suspicious if there is $0 declared goods and they might stop you at the customs to check the baggage so now I always try to buy something when I am in the U.S. and fridge magnets seem a good choice).
I used a machine to scan the passport and the custom form, better and faster than a customs officer, and here I was running to the skytrain station. And at 11:11 I validated my Sky train ticket, the plane was supposed to land at 11:17.
The following promotion is only for Canadian residents.
If you use my Orange Key 17148482S1 to open an ING account you will get $50 (nice Christmas gift) and I will get $50 too (sorry about that). I suppose you open the account, you will have an Orange Key so your spouse can open one too and you will get extra $50 and your spouse $50.
I have had an ING account for a few years now and I am not only saying because of the bonus but I really like it as I have not paid any fees whatsoever and I don’t have to be “stressed” to keep a minimum balance, because there is none to worry about otherwise you will be charged the “dreaded” monthly fee that I abhor. Maybe it’s me but I don’t like paying fees. I don’t like them and that’s it. ING Canada has been bought by Scotiabank, so I don’t know how long this “free ride” will last for but I’ll worry again about the banking fees when it’s over.
“Now when you refer friends and family to ING DIRECT, you will be doubly rewarded. Instead of $25, we’re giving $50* to you and $50 to your friend. This festive offer ends December 31st!
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Like the holiday season, this offer will be over before you know it. You have until December 31st to double up. Get your friends, family, colleagues, elves and all to sign up for ING DIRECT and open an Account with $100 or more to earn the $50 Bonus.”