Standby Adventures: Thunder Bay to Fiji

My vacation was coming closer and I wanted to go somewhere hot and exotic and use my travel benefits to get there. I started researching places with good weather in November, and fell across Fiji. After reading amazing reviews from backpackers, I decided to book standby flights from YQT-LAX with Westjet and then another direct standby flight from LAX-NAN with Fiji Airways. The flight loads looked fine up until two days till departure and there were no longer any seats for YYZ-LAX or seats from LAX-NAN. So, with only two days to figure my travel plans out, I cancelled all my old flights and started from scratch.

I went to skyscanner (always a trusty tool when trying to find the best travel info). I ended up finding out that Fiji Airways flies out of Honolulu every second night. So I booked myself some flights with Westjet to Honolulu (YQT-YYZ-YVR-HNL) and then a direct one from HNL-NAN with Fiji Airways. The only difference now was that I’d be spending two nights and two days in Honolulu on my way to Fiji and I was not too mad about that!

So November 2nd rolled around and I was off on my adventure to get to Fiji! My first flight left Thunder Bay at 6:15 AM so I got up at the crack of dawn, in my tropical traveling clothes and drove myself to the airport. My super awesome and loving and wonderful boyfriend even agreed to drive me from my car in the employee parking lot (which would have been an awfully long and cold walk) to the airport so that I didn’t have to A) bring a jacket or B) freeze my butt off getting from the parking lot to the airport. (It really is far you guys. And my boyfriend really is that awesome.) We had to de-ice in Thunder Bay causing a slight delay getting into Toronto. Because of this, my already tight connection got even tighter. Myself and a few others from Thunder Bay were the last ones that made it on our flight to Vancouver and just in time!

When I got to my seat though someone was already sitting in it and then some guy politely asked if the woman sitting in it could switch with me so she could sit with her friends. I didn’t really care so of course I said yes. This was a huge mistake though. The guy beside in my new seat had the WORST body odour in the entire world. Oh. my. god. And to top it off the group that I had switched seats with had people just coming and hanging out there for 20 minutes at a time leaning on my chair and chatting to them. So I was trapped between smelly man from my side and an armpit from above. Luckily the flight attendant gave me free baileys and food so that definitely helped.

Then I had a nice long 7.5 hour layover in the Vancouver airport. I haven’t spent much time in this airport so I went through to the international departures and tried to find the best lounges. The first one I went to was on the international side but before transboarder (US) flights. It was freaking packed. Like everyone and their dog was in this lounge. If it wasn’t so busy, I’m sure it would have been a nice place. But to me a lounge is to escape the chaos, not go to where the chaos exists. I ended up going through customs to the lounge on the US side. This one was smaller, but it was more quiet and it still had food and a self serve bar. I ended up eating some dinner, pouring myself a glass of wine and before I could even take the first sip, fell asleep for a good 2.5 hours. When I woke up my wine was just sitting in front of me still waiting to wake me up and carry on with my vacation.

I then went to my gate for my flight to Honolulu. This flight was much much MUCH more enjoyable and actually seemed to go by even quicker than the flight to Vancouver. When we made it to Hawaii I was pooped and wasn’t really looking forward to waiting for a bus that may or may not come. So I only waited for 15 mins before I gave up, and did what I ended up doing the last time I came here and grabbed a stupidly expensive cab.

I spent the next two nights and two days in Waikiki. I decided to just chill in the city and not explore the island because I had been here for a week just a few months ago and I wanted to save my money and energy for Fiji. It was unbelievably nice being back in a familiar and wonderful place like Oahu. Even the smell made me feel nostalgic. But unfortunately, not everything went so perfectly in Hawaii.

It all started the morning I woke up, walked to the shower, showered, got out, and realized I forgot my towel. Fuck.

It continued with the bright red line down my back that this solo traveller could not reach sunscreen to with her little arms. Womp womp womp.

The second night it really hit. I knew it was coming. It was inevitable. That wonderful, loving, awesome boyfriend that I used to love so much had given me a cold. That mother fucking bastard. 😦

So I fell asleep by 8 pm and woke up at 8 am, still tired. I drugged myself up, checked out of the hostel and spent the day lazily around Waikiki shopping and reading on the beach. The hostel I was staying at was very accommodating and let me keep my bags free of charge, and let me come hangout all night until I had to leave for my flight.

This was the confusing part: Fiji Airways, why the hell do you have a flight at 2 in the morning? No seriously? WHY?

This time I was smarter about it and took the bus to the airport just after 8 pm. I was tired of waiting around and for some reason got it in my head that maybe it wasn’t actually at 2 am and maybe it was earlier. Probably all that cold medicine talking.

Now if you haven’t been to Honolulu, than you should know that the airport is complete garbage. It’s so old, and weird and there is absolutely no where to go outside of security, and only cement blocks to sit on. Seriously there isn’t even a coffee place outside security. When I arrived, I checked the departures board and to my wonderful surprise saw that my once ridiculously late/early flight was now delayed to even later/earlier. So all of us on this flight waited on the cement blocks for no joke 3 hours waiting for some Fiji Airways representatives to show up and check us in. Around Midnight we started going through security and I got that golden ticket (or at least, a ticket) on the flight to Fiji! Weoooo.

We then got into the airport where the only thing open was a Starbucks and I’m pretty sure at least 80% of my flight bought something from there. I however, spent all my remaining American dollars in a massage chair hidden in a corner while we waited and waited and waited. It got to the point that I was sleeping with my timer waking me up in intervals of 20 mins. At 3 AM they finally started to call for boarding.

And when they made this call, they were like and “good news we wont be stopping in bdfjagnudsfk” (I didn’t fully hear the place that she pronounced) “and we’ll be going straight to Nadi.” I laughed thinking that they were making a joke since we were so delayed and they were like WOO we’re gonna go straight there now that its 3 am. LOL joke was on me because everyone started clapping and cheering and talking about how pumped they were that we didn’t have to stop? UM WHAT? LOL WHERE WAS THIS IN MY ITINERARY?? My flight said direct HNL-NAN. Imagine my utter confusing and how terrified I would have been had we actually stopped in this mysterious place. I would have been like alright this it is, here I am Fiji tootalooo off I go!!!!

I’ll never know where that flight was supposed to make a stop on the way to NAN. Also will never understand how you can just cancel that. Like weren’t there people who needed to like.. get off there? Or get on there? Or why were we stopping there? Who honestly knows. I definitely do not.

Anywho, I got on the plane heading direct now to NADI, Thank God. And Set myself up in my lovely seat that didn’t recline because it was in front of the emergency exit row. And then fell asleep in intervals between our captain coming on the PA saying there was something wrong with our flight plan (ME: YEAH IT SAID WE WERE STOPPING IN FHDJKGHDKF). I just remember I kept waking up to him saying we should be out of here in no later than 10-15 mins. And every time I was like so nice of him to keep making announcements because thats great communication but also I feel like that’s at least the forth time he said it’ll be 15 mins.. It was. When he finally said we were cleared for takeoff, I checked my phone, and it was after 5 fucking AM you guys. FIVE AM.

And yet, four days later I am now in Fiji!!! Let the vacay BEGIN!

Note: I fly standby because I work for an airline, most companies do not offer standby travel for purchase.

xx S

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