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Believing in yourself can get you out of trouble when you travel: a story

Moving out in a mad rush and bidding goodbye to a city I'd called home for four years was dramatic enough, but the real chaos unfolded when I arrived at the airport.

I had planned my time meticulously and had taken my Uber to the airport at just the right time, something I'd done a hundred times while I lived in Toronto. The one thing I forgot about Toronto after being gone for months was the traffic. I still had time but I was starting to get anxious about only having 2 hours before my flight once I got there but I was not prepared for what was to follow when I did.

According to the Air Canada website, check-in for flights to Mexico was supposed to close 90 minutes prior to the flight, but here I was, being told that I was three minutes too late under new timings they had put in place since COVID I had thought were now back to normal. On top of it all the staff member's bitchy attitude was not helping my already fucked situation and to be honest, she seemed quite satisfied with the fact I wouldn’t be able to board my flight which left me feeling angry as hell. And in my book anger = tears.

My options were grim: either leave behind my suitcase, which was practically my life packed in luggage or miss my flight to Tulum and stay another night in the city I had just emotionally parted from. I retreated to a corner to gather my thoughts and let out a few tears before returning to the fray, this time armed with the airline’s check-in policy displayed boldly on my phone.

I was met by a different staff member, an older, kinder woman who, while she couldn’t promise anything, allowed me to try my luck at the check-in desk.

As I stood in line, trying desperately to hold back tears, I met eyes with the clerk who could definitely see the sheer desperation written all over my face.

As my turn came, he looked at me for no more than a second before knowingly asking if I was too late for check-in. All I could do was nod, still fighting the tears that were very much coming down my face whether I wanted them to or not.

"I’ll make you my one exception of the day," he said and I was so overwhelmed with relief, that I could barely stop myself from jumping over the desk to hug him. Instead, I settled on showering him with thank yous, calling him an angel a thousand times as he tagged my suitcase and handed me my boarding pass.

This moment taught me something vital about travel: no matter how meticulously you plan, there’s always a chance for things to go awry but even in the most stressful situations, a bit of kindness from a stranger can turn the tide in your favour.

So, here's a piece of advice for my fellow travellers: always double-check your flight details, especially the fine print about check-in timings.

And remember, sometimes you just have to rely on the kindness of strangers and a little airport magic to get you where you need to be.

Safe travels, and may your trips be as memorable as my frantic, yet ultimately fortunate, journey to Tulum.

Love, Lea

Club 30 x


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