It's a long, ultimately boring story, but I didn't make it to Paris. In what can only be described as a big, massive fail by Air Canada, my intended four days in Paris became a 24 hour trip to Heathrow airport and back, complete with little food and drink, and virtually no sleep.
I was originally supposed to fly Ottawa-Montreal-Paris. When we boarded the plane in Ottawa, it became apparent the plane's door would not close, we sat on the plane for 45 minutes (we were told they were getting booking agents to the gate to handle us when we got off the plane), got off only to be greeted by no one. At this point, I knew I had already missed my connecting flight to Paris, I made my way up to the booking desk and was told to collect my luggage first before they could help me. It took a half hour to get my bag back, I went upstairs to get sorted out, an hour later it was my turn to speak with the booking agent who informed me I was flying to Heathrow, where I would catch a British Airways flight to Paris. I knew there was a weather situation in the UK, and I specifically asked if there were delays at Heathrow airport, and she told me "There are no problems." Ha. Ha. Ha. Good one.
I made it to Heathrow airport (no meal, as I might add, can't get a vegetarian meal with less than 24 hours notice!), as we were landing, I saw the light skiffing of snow, and figured everything must be running smoothly (little did I know a light skiffing of snow in London, England is apparently a very big deal). As I made my way by bus from Terminal three to Terminal five, I noticed mountains of luggage covered by plastic tarps. It struck me as odd, by the haphazard way everything was stored, I assumed it was unclaimed luggage. In hindsight, I realize it was just the airport's way of dealing with massive (massive!) delays causing a huge backlog of luggage piling up at the airport.
Once I got to Terminal five, I got to the right gate pretty quickly, only to be denied entry because my flight had been cancelled. At this point, I was told British Airways had been cancelling flights within Europe for the past two days. Fuck. Fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck. I was directed into a big line and told to rebook. While I was in that line, a British Airways employee came by with a clipboard and suggested that since I'm not British, it would be faster to declare myself at immigration and make my way back to departures to rebook my flight to Paris. So I do that, get upstairs, and holy shit, I have never seen such a mass of people in my life. I got into line, a British Airways employee was waiting at the end of the line to let everyone know "You are more than welcome to get in line, but just so you know, you will likely never make it to the front of this line before our desks close tonight." (this was at about 11am). I explain my situation, that I'm not supposed to be there, Air Canada rebooked me onto a British Airways flight, should I stay, or do I need to deal with Air Canada? He told me I'm now a British Airways customer, I have to get in line.
I was in line for over two hours (with no food or drink), I kept repeatedly explaining my situation to British Airways employees (people in blue vests who were walking around the line, not to actually do anything, but to make it appear British Airways was on the case). The last blue vest person I spoke to was actually from the baggage department, she never helps customers, so she took me to a supervisor who then informed me that since Air Canada had rebooked my flight, British Airways could not in fact help me, I had to go back to Terminal three to deal with Air Canada. So I take a train back to Terminal three, make my way to an Air Canada booking desk, and am told "Sorry, you're not an Air Canada customer anymore, you have to go back to British Airways." Faced with the decision to go back to *that* mess (two and a half hours in line got me perhaps 1/5 of the way through the queue, they were still cancelling flights, I was virtually guaranteed a 24+ hour wait in Terminal with no food or water), I rebooked my ticket home so that I was leaving Heathrow to fly directly back to Montreal immediately (the only certain decision I could make in an incredibly uncertain situation!). If I chose to get back in line at Terminal three, there was a very real possibility I would just make it to Paris in time to get back on the flight back to Canada anyhow. I had to haul ass to get on the plane to Montreal, it was already boarding.
I lucked out and managed to snag a meal on the plane back to Montreal, I slept a little bit, and I cried a lot, going away for a few days requires an enormous amount of planning and preparation, it was all for naught. When I landed in Montreal, I found out the plane back to Ottawa was delayed. Of course it was. Why wouldn't it be? All in all, it took 26 hours between when I left Ottawa and when I returned. No idea where my luggage is, I imagine it's buried on the runway at Heathrow, by the time I got back last night, flights to Paris from Heathrow were already running again, but given the incredible backlog, I wouln't have gotten out of that airport the same day, and I very much doubt my luggage would either.
I have sent my complaint to Air Canada (they don't have a phone number for customer complaints, imagine that?), I want to be reimbursed somehow for my ticket (60,000 air miles and $400), I should not be out of pocket for their sheer incompetence (had they rebooked my itinerary so that I was still flying Ottawa-Montreal-Paris, I would be in Paris right now, not sulking on my sofa in Stittsville). I held up my end of the bargain, I showed up on time, I did what I was told, and I got screwed.