Day 14: Friday, September 22

Time to go home!

We both had a rotten sleep last night as the air conditioning was not working properly in our hotel room; it was so hot and uncomfortable it made falling into a solid sleep almost impossible.

We had both set our alarms for 6:30AM and both alarms came screaming on, right on time. We got up, showered, finished packing, and checked out at the hotel’s Reception. The flight plan home was to take a TAP Air Portugal flight from Porto to Lisbon; from Lisbon we connected to an Air Canada non-stop flight home to Toronto.

Off to Porto’s Airport

Last night the hotel’s Reception had pre-booked a car to take us from the hotel to the Porto airport; at exactly 7:30 that car arrived in front of the hotel.

It was a beautiful sunny morning as we left central Porto. It was smooth sailing all the way from the hotel to the airport, and we reached Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport at about 8:15AM. The trip cost €35 plus a €5 tip – great driver!

Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport

The airport around Porto opened in 1945 and was initially known as Pedras Rubras Airport, after the name for the locality where the airport is located: Pedras Rubras (red rocks). It is still known by this name in the region. The land on which the airport was built was originally agricultural, characterized by rich soils that permitted the cultivation of various cereals. It was renamed in 1990 after former Portuguese Prime Minister, Francisco de Sá Carneiro, who died in a plane crash when he was travelling to this airport on December 4, 1980.

A new terminal building, designed by Portuguese firm ICQ, was built between 2003 and 2006, and became operational in the last quarter of 2006.

TAP Air Portugal

We found the check-in desk for TAP (Air Portugal), and were greeted by a kind and efficient rep. The Portuguese here (and everywhere in Portugal!) are very kind and helpful. The TAP rep checked us in and sent our bags on their way – little did we know, at that point, that it would be quite a while before we again laid eyes on them (more on this later).

We found the Security checkpoint and passed through without a hitch – it was so incredibly quick and easy, and we didn’t have to remove our CPAPs, laptop, etc., as we usually do when passing through airport security.

After breezing through Security we found a cafeteria-style place at which to have something for breakfast; we had had to leave the hotel that morning without breakfast as the breakfast service there did not start until 7:00AM. For breakfast, Vince had an Americano and a sub, and I had a Danish and an orange juice.

We finished our light breakfast, found a bathroom (it’s crucial to fly in comfort!), then located our boarding gate (#33) and waited for the boarding call. Again, I was struck by how pleasant and stress-free this airport was.

Our flight was TAP Air Portugal #TP1939, scheduled to depart Porto at 10:00AM and arrive Lisbon at 11:00AM. We were informed that our flight had been delayed until 10:25. With news of this delay, the weather suddenly changed from sunny to foggy and rainy – literally. The plane arrived shortly, though, and we boarded at about 10:00AM. We pushed back from the gate at 10:20 – not quite as late as predicted – and we lifted off at about 10:30. Lisbon here we come!

Once at Lisbon airport we should have had enough time to comfortably connect to our Air Canada flight home, but that was not to be. The weather changed again to very clear once we got above the clouds.

Flight Connection at Lisbon

It was a very short flight to Lisbon from Porto! I didn’t time it, but the actual in-air part of the flight could not have been more than 25 minutes, if that. We touched down at 11:10 at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport. We had to deplane on to the tarmac, and an airport bus was waiting there to take us to the terminal. Transferring into the Lisbon terminal, (which is an utter nightmare as I’ve described at the start of this blog) we were aware that we were delayed a half-hour from our original schedule. Given that, we didn’t have a chance to eat and relax a bit at the Lisbon airport as I had originally planned. In fact, we had to race to the boarding gate to make our Air Canada flight (#AC811); it had started boarding at 11:50. While waiting in the boarding queue we chatted with some very friendly Americans who were on their way to Toronto – very decent folks.

We boarded the plane, found our seats and settled in. The plane was extremely full. We pushed back from the Lisbon gate at 1:00PM and lifted off at 1:15. It was an extremely smooth flight almost all the entire way. A couple of hours into the flight the flight attendants served a reasonably-sized meal, at which we were asked the eternal air flight question – would you like chicken or pasta? In case you’re wondering, I had the chicken.

Arriving in Toronto

We touched down at Toronto’s Pearson International at 4:15PM. We deplaned and made our way through the now-automated Border Control/Customs area before proceeding to Baggage Carousel 8 to retrieve our bags  – and this is where the fun began:

We waited for our bags to drop…

And waited…

And waited…

… but our bags never appeared, and the baggage carousel was then powered off – oh great – no luggage!

We sought the counter where baggage issues were dealt with, and got into the enormous queue there. It took almost an hour of standing in line before we could talk to someone at the Air Canada baggage counter. When our turn in the queue came up, we luckily got an Air Canada rep who actually knew what he was doing. He checked on the situation and could see that our bags were still sitting in Lisbon. Oh great. The reason for this? – the official Air Canada line was that the total luggage weight for the plane was overweight so a few bags had to be pulled off. The AC rep said that our suitcases will be sent to Toronto on the next flight from Lisbon, and that Air Canada will deliver them to us at home. The situation wasn’t too grim – at least Air Canada knew where our bags were.

The lost luggage reporting at the Air Canada counter delayed us yet another hour, and I was very conscious of the fact that the car I’d pre-booked from Toronto Airport Limo was outside the terminal, waiting to pick us up. I called the driver and checked in with him – he said it was no problem and that he would wait as long as was needed.

Home, Please…

Finally all the forms and paperwork were complete, and we then made our way to Door A to meet our pre-booked car to take us home. The driver was very easy-going regarding the delay and whisked us back home as best he could. Pearson Airport and the downtown were especially chaotic as Justin Trudeau and Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Ukrainian President) were arriving at Pearson at the same time as us.

We finally reached home at 7:00PM, hours later than expected. Everything was OK in the condo except it was extremely stuffy. I contacted Steve, and he brought the dogs down to us – they were overjoyed to see us, even Tulip! (in her fashion, mind you).

I sent an e-mail to everyone to let them know we were back safe and sound. We were both extremely hungry as it had been a day of skipped or odd meals, so we ordered a pizza at about 8:15. The pizza arrived, we ate, then unpacked what we had in our carry-on luggage. We fell into bed at about 9:30PM, tired, exhausted, jet lagged, but very happy.

That’s it! What a fantastic trip it had been. Thanks Portugal – we’ll be back!

Update: Sunday, September 24

Our luggage was sent from Lisbon on Sunday’s Toronto-bound flight (there’s only one flight per day between Lisbon and Toronto). On Sunday the third-party company who delivers Air Canada’s lost luggage, dropped our bags off at home around 2:00PM. All accounted for, and now safe and sound!

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