John and I decided to spend Christmas with our son Joseph and his wife Carrie in Muscat, Oman. Since it is half a world away we decided to make the long flights worth while and stay for a month. Surprisingly Joseph and Carrie were okay with that – well, Carrie was. Not totally sure about Joseph. But he said he was willing to put up with us.
We invited our daughter Trish to come along. She had 17 days of holidays she could take so we booked our flights.
Our itinerary was: Fly out of Kelowna, BC to Seattle, WA Dec 13 at 12:19 pm. 1 hour
Fly out of Seattle, WA to Dubai, UAE Dec 13 at 5:10 pm 14 hours
Fly out of Dubai, UAE to Muscat, Oman Dec 14 at 10:25 pm 1 hour
Arrive at Muscat 11:35 pm Dec 14.
The reality was somewhat different to say the least. My sister and her husband offered to drive us to the airport and they dropped us off at the terminal at 10:30. It was foggy which is never a good thing at the Kelowna airport. Sure enough our flight was delayed. Then it was delayed again. Then it was canceled.
The gal at the Alaska Airlines counter was overwhelmed with all the re-bookings and took forever to find us new flights. The Seattle to Dubai Air Emirates flight the next day was fully booked so alternative airlines had to be found. She booked John and I on the 12:40 Air Canada flight to Vancouver and the 8:30 flight to Seattle, with an overnight layover. We would then fly to Amsterdam on Delta at 1 pm Dec 14, have a 3 hour layover and fly to Muscat after a short stop in Dhoha, Qatar, arriving at 9:30 pm Dec 15. By the time she had all that done the 12:40 flight was closed as it was too close to the scheduled departure time and she could not make a booking for Trish, even though the plane had not yet arrived and the flight was also delayed due to fog. But… booking was closed so Trish couldn’t fly with us. She was then booked on another flight leaving Kelowna at 5 so would be in time for our 8:30 plane to Seattle that evening.
Our 12:40 flight finally left at 2:45 and there were quite a few empty seats so if the re-booking had been done quicker Trish could have flown with us. However just as we were going through security to fly to Seattle Trish texted that her flight out of Kelowna was now canceled as well because the fog had rolled in again. Not Good.
Multiple texts flew back and forth. Trish met another couple who were also stranded and they decided to rent a vehicle and drive to Vancouver as the chances were very good that any flights out the next morning would also be canceled due to fog. Four more people joined in with the plan so seven random strangers crammed all their luggage and themselves into a rented SUV and drove to Vancouver at 7 o’clock at night. A wonderful time was had by all and Trish has six new friends.
After about three hours sleep at a friend’s house she caught an 8:50 flight to Seattle the next morning and waited for us at the gate for our afternoon flight to Amsterdam. We arrived at the airport at 10 am to have lots of time to get our Delta boarding passes and meet up with Trish. Delta had nothing in their computer except our names – even though John had gone online at our hotel the night before, found our new bookings and selected seats for us and Trish. Delta said since our flight was a re-booking by Alaska Air we had to go see them. We spent over an hour and a half standing at the counter unsure as to whether we would make our flight to Amsterdam. Alaska finally sorted out “the computer error” and we hurried to Delta to get our boarding passes. The line was lengthy at security but we were assured by a staff person that we would be okay. We arrived at the correct gate, without seating assignments, as the plane was beginning to board. Trish had the seat we had selected for her last night and we were given the last two seats together 11 rows ahead of her.
We arrived half an hour early in Amsterdam, found a transfer station and got our seats and boarding passes for our flight to Muscat. Again John and I were together in the two middle seats of the four center rows and Trish was 21 rows behind. Trish slept almost the entire flight. I got about 4 hours and John, who had napped on the flight to Amsterdam, dozed a bit while the young fellow in the seat beside him had a good sleep on his shoulder. The plane was delayed 20 minutes or so in Dhoha due to a valve not opening so the engine wouldn’t start. We got towed back to the terminal where the valve was opened manually, the engine roared to life and off we went.
Joseph and Carrie arrived at the airport just as we walked out the terminal. It was about a 20 minute drive to their villa and after a tour of the house and a short visit everyone went to bed. It had been a VERY long, VERY stressful trip and we lost an entire day of our holiday. However, we arrived safe and sound at our destination so all was well.
Joseph has to work most days during our visit and he was gone by the time we got up. Carrie, Trish, John and I visited for awhile then Carrie drove us to the ocean-front boulevard to walk along the beach and enjoy the warm weather.
Then it was off to the grocery store to stock up on food. We found it very interesting to see the Christmas decorations and ‘treats’ in this Muslim country. There was even a Christmas tree in the airport, which surprised us all and winter decorations in the mall. All in all it was a wonderful first day in Oman. We look forward to the rest of our visit. Some days will be game-playing days where we won’t leave the villa but we have made plans to see some sights and experience some adventures. You will have to wait and see what we get up to……