WOW!! I really have to say WOW!! What an experience!
I think I will have to start at the beginning … Brisbane weather …. POURING RAIN most of the day.
My partner and I left our home at 9am and arriving at the Brisbane International Airport …. No problem. I went to the check-in and letting them know I am Deaf and asked if the special request has been confirmed? Yep all good. Put the bag on the conveyance. All good. The lady at the counter said “Your bag will go straight to Toronto, there is no need to pick up your bag in Los Angeles”. Me: “Oh ok.”
I remember back on 27th December 2005, when I was travelling to Toronto via Los Angeles, I has to pick up my bag to go through the custom and then put it at the connecting flight conveyance to Toronto, just after the custom. I thought maybe it has changed it’s process.
Off we went to the lookout platform. My partner ordered coffee and toasted sandwich. We waited for a friend to come before I headed down to custom and to my plane … It was good to catch up before I leave. So I went to the custom and had my passport checkout and handed in the green card … Woah! I told the security checkpoint that I had cochlear implant and cannot go through the security metal detector. The security bloke stated that I will have to go through the body scanner as it does not have magnetic force and uses radiowave frequency … this was not discussed at the Cochlear Implant appointment that I has earlier … I will need to follow this up with the CI Centre. I ended up going through the Body Scanner as shown in the photo below.
The custom checkpoint and security checkpoint – all done and all good. No problem.
I had a conversation with my partner and our friend between the departure section and the lookout platform before I head to gate 86. Right on time, 10.45, I saw the sign saying Boarding soon so I said my love and bye to my partner and our friend and started walking toward gate 86 which is right at the end of the departure section (well 87 is but it is opposite 86).
I just got to gate 86 when the PA was sounding – I had absolutely no idea what was said however the people waiting at gate 86 facial expression said it all … “ooooohhhhh” face expression so it came to my mind it is likely to be delayed. I continued to walk to the counter to let them know that I am Deaf and to check what was happening. The bloke has to check my record and saw that I was Deaf and not lying! He explained to me in clear English language that the flight was delayed and the boarding time was 11.30am and the flight was for 12noon. It was stuck on the waiting line for runaway until it was cleared to fly at 12.30pm.
Also he asked me to stay and go on the plane first. I said all good. The boarding started at 11.30am and I was introduced to the flight staff that was looking after my section. One of the flight attendant I have met is learning to sign. It was good to converse in Auslan for a while. It was good. Downside was, they didn’t relay the information that was being said over the PA, all the way through the flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles. The guy that was sitting next to me was a muslim and he is not supposed to touch woman. When he saw that I am Deaf, often he will tap me on the shoulder and relay the information to me. All in community spirit, I was pretty impressed.
The movies … not many of the movies was subtitled! I ended up watching:
- Monsters Inc University – not bad, I enjoyed the downtime and a light movie
- The Millers Family – hilarious – I laughed all the way through the movie! Worth watching.
- Sisters for the first 20 minutes of Sisters as it turned out the English part was not subtitled and only the english translation were of Swiss language.
- So I ended up watching Jasmine Blue … not worth watching that horrible movie even it has Cate Blanchett as an actor. The storyline … gag!
Finally arrived in Los Angeles while assuming that my bag will be transferred so I continued to Custom checkpoint and security checkpoint. And was well on my way to Terminal 4. Doing the two checkpoint again at Terminal 4 and mentioned that I had cochlear implant – the American custom staff really don’t care … this is the part that I always dread after my experience travelling through America last year. Australian domestic checkpoint is not as strict as the American checkpoints.
Once I have completed the passport and security checkpoint, I made my way to 42B and introduced myself to the counter staff letting them know that I was Deaf. Cool, noted. Boarded the plane, no special privilege so same as everyone else. Met the flight attendant and told him that I was Deaf – no problem. He was a lovely guy and looked after me throughout the flight. Very pleased with the services of American Airlines.
I was really impressed on how many men are working as flight attendant in America compared to Australia – majority of the flight attendant in Australia are women.
I arrived in Toronto with no problem – I slept most of the way.
Went through the passport security with no problem. I proceed to the baggage pickup. Uh oh, I could not see my bag. F***! So I proceed to the American Airlines counter – turned out that I was not the only Australian person with misled information from the Qantas counter staff in Brisbane – there was 3 other Australian with the same information that I had … This really show how poor Qantas customer services is.
We ended up writing out the delayed baggage form with the details and so forth. At least I had spare clothes in my carryon bag however not the toiletries as somehow I put everything into my big toiletries bag and put them into the big bag – that including the small toothpaste, toothbrush (I have two) and the shampoo/conditioner/soap mini bottles. I must not have been thinking straight when I was packing.
So I left the airport with no baggage and with what I have on me … Headed to Toronto Downtown Express to take me to my hostel – Canadiana Backpackers Inn.
Why did I pick Canadiana Backpackers Inn? I stayed here in 2006 when I was visiting a friend of mine in Toronto and doing a tour of Toronto – I fell in love with this backpacker. Also with YHI and Global Backpacker, they allow people to bring in their sleeping bag whereas Canadiana Backpackers Inn bans the use of sleeping bag. No Bed Bugs!! Also free breakfast, coffee and tea. Cheap rate – $170CAD per week for 6-8 bed dorm. The other backpackers were $190-$220CAD for one week and no breakfast. I say, why not book at Canadiana Backpackers Inn!! If you ever visit Toronto and want cheap accommodation – Canadiana Backapckers Inn is the place to stay.
I received a message saying that my bag has arrived in Toronto early this morning and it will be delivered sometimes today – I slept through to 11am. I got up and was about to leave to go and do food shopping. Saw the note on the door saying my bag has arrived. I was overjoyed and pick up my bag from the reception. I put my bag inside and then went to do food shopping at Loblaws, not far from my hostel …
I have completely forgotten that Canada supermarket sells in BIG quantity compared to Australia small quantity!! So I had a hard time deciding what I need to buy. I ended up buying pasta with pesto as I really don’t want 2L of pasta sauce or BIG bags of vegetables …. I also bought meatless mince (vegetarian version of mince) in small quantity so I am pleased.
I headed back to the hostel and started unpacking … saw the blue card in my bag saying that the US Custom and Borderline Protection has to right to check my bag … I understand that it has to happen because it had happened few times when I was travelling through America last year. This time, I was not impressed. My stuff has been searched through and everything was misplaced. That including my doTERRA products.
After rambling through my bag making sure I had everything. My doTERRA products was missing … I was upset, disappointed and angry … mixed emotions as I was very tired from the long trip. I decided to take a nap – two hours sleep.
Then I unpacked everything and started sorting out my bag … it turned out they put the doTERRA stuff into another section of my bag which I have not used yet and wasn’t planning on using it. AARRRGHHH!! I have counted everything … seems to be in the right order at the moment. I THINK!! I will double check tomorrow as I am still tired.
- Carryon bag – make sure you have at least 2 sets of spare clothes and small toiletries packed.
- If you have cochlear implant, take off your speech processor before proceeding through the body scanner. Safety reason.
- If you are transiting in Los Angeles, make sure you pick up your bag and take it through the custom and put it at the transfer drop-point.
- Try not to panic when you are over-tired, upset and frustrated. It will not get you any where.