Ottawa to Las Vegas- Travel days are not always easy days!


One of the traps I fall into when I write and post about our travels is to only talk about the good parts. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1. I don’t want to complain when I am so lucky to be able to travel

2. I don’t want to be negative about a place or a business because everyone has bad days.

But it does paint an unrealistic picture about travelling. It does have it’s ups and downs. It’s not all Unicorns and lollypops.

We flew from Ottawa to Las Vegas via Calgary for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. I was racing so my bike was on board. My biggest concern when we started the trip was that my bike would get lost between Ottawa and Las Vegas. This was reinforced by a recent trip to Berlin for the Berlin marathon. My bags arrived but my sister’s bags disappeared for almost a week, and she was left scrambling to find pre-race clothing. We both had all our racing gear in carry- on but the little extras were checked. Everything I else I needed for this race was in carry-on, but bikes don’t fit in the overhead compartment! I put an Apple AirTag on the bike and hoped for the best.

We left Ottawa and landed in Calgary on time. Went through US customs with no issues and boarded our flight to Las Vegas on time. They were offering $1400 each to the first two people who offered to fly to Las Vegas via Toronto and arrive in Las Vegas 12 hours late. We should have said yes, and on a different day we might have but the bike was in the hold, the car rental place was only open until 4:00pm in Las Vegas and we were staying in Beaty 2 ½ hours from the airport.

We boarded on time, but it was snowing so they had to de-ice the plane. It was the first snow of the year, and the first time they had needed to de-ice planes, so it took a while. We were about 40 minutes late taking off. We were on Air Canada Rouge. I am fine with Air Canada, but I am not a big fan of Rouge. You get very little included on the flight.  The flight was a little rough, but not terrible. When we got closer to Las Vegas it got bumpier.

When we descended for the landing, the plane was bumping around a lot. I fly regularly and this was definitely a bumpy ride. I was starting to feel pretty uncomfortable, and so was everyone else. We were low enough to be able to see cars and trees and runways when the plane accelerated and went back up, No one said anything at the time, but it was pretty obvious they had aborted the landing. The plane had one of those displays that shows you where you are on the flight path so we could also clearly see that we were now heading back away from Las Vegas.

The cabin crew collected a few airsickness bags while the captain informed us that they had been unable to land due to wind shear and we were going back to try a different runway. On the second try the cabin was very quiet. We descended and then pulled-up again. The plane was full of people going to Vegas for the weekend and the guys behind us were great comic relief when the plane was back at cruising altitude the comment from the behind us was “man my shirt is soaked with sweat, my hands are soaked and I think I left my hand print permanently in the arm rest”. We all felt the same way.

The flight path on the display showed us heading straight across the desert toward the pacific. We were eventually told we were going to LA because they could not land in Vegas

We landed in LA uneventfully and sat on the runway. It was 3:30pm so we called the car rental agency from the plane and told them we were not going to make it before they closed. They agreed to let us pick-up the car the following day.

Initially, it looked like we were getting off in LA which at that point was fine with all of us. We had no desire to do any additional landings. The guys behind us suggested that walking to Vegas from here would be fine with them at this point. Personally, I was fine with the idea of spending the night in LA and waiting a day to get to Las Vegas. Apparently, TSA was not keen on us getting off the plane in LA because we had all cleared customs in Calgary to go to Las Vegas. I don’t know if it was that or the weather, but the pilot was back on the intercom. He started with “ I have been flying for 35 years” the response from the peanut galley behind us was “It’s always a bad sign when the pilot starts by telling you how much experience he has”. The pilot continued on saying the wind had died down a bit in Las Vegas and he was “pretty” sure he could land the plane. Those of us in the plane were kind of hoping for a slightly more positive statement. Something like, I know I can land this plane…easily!.

Anyway, after a couple of hours on the ground we headed back to Las Vegas. We got a free granola bar for courage. We descended into Las Vegas for try number three and pulled up yet again.

After circling around one more time we landed successfully in Las Vegas. There was much rejoicing! The guys behind us declared it beer time and we deplaned from our three hour flight with a five hour landing.

By the time we landed I was just happy to be alive so finding all of our bags waiting for us was just an added bonus. It was 7:00 pm we had a lot of luggage, no car and no where to stay in Las Vegas. It was a Saturday and we could not find anywhere in Las Vegas to stay for under $600.00.

We loaded ourselves and our luggage on the car rental shuttle and tried to convince the rental agency to rent us our car from that location. They would not do it, so we ended up renting a car for one day for a ridiculous amount of money, but it was less than $600. We loaded everything in the car and drove 2 ½ hours through the desert in the wind in the dark to our hotel in Beatty. We were pretty tired…the next morning we drove 2 ½ hours back through the desert in the light with a bit less wind to return the car to the airport. We then took a city bus to the strip and picked up the original rental car and drove back through the desert to the hotel in the dark.

Not an ideal start to the trip but it could have been worse and we got to stop at Area 51 Alien Center on the way back to Vegas.

Published by judyapiel

Runner, triathlete and coach. Owner of RunK2J, Community Events at Bushtukah. Always looking for a new travel adventure.

2 thoughts on “Ottawa to Las Vegas- Travel days are not always easy days!

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