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Travel thrills and luggage ills

It was certainly a shock to the system arriving back in Vancouver last Saturday night.

It was certainly a shock to the system arriving back in Vancouver last Saturday night.

I had just returned from two weeks in the Florida sunshine, two weeks of 85 degree-plus days, beautiful scenery (at least what was still standing after three hurricanes hit the state earlier this year) and lots of R&R.

I was in Orlando for a slo-pitch tournament (the Sports Illustrated Advertising World Series) a tournament that my team, Eh Team Vancouver, has attended for the past six years. We also took the opportunity to visit Mickey at the Magic Kingdom.

The trip was fantastic, but the adventure getting home was a different story.

I was travelling with my parents and we knew it was going to be dicey when we touched down in Toronto. We had little over an hour to clear customs, get our bags and board our next flight to Vancouver. Customs was a breeze, but this is where the headache began.

If you haven't been to Toronto's International Airport, consider yourself lucky. Our airport experience is just another reason to avoid Toronto.

When we got off the plane we had a brisk 10-minute walk to the customs area. Luckily the line-up wasn't that bad and we made it through pretty quickly.

We then had to go through another area and up several escalators to another holding area where we got our bags. This took an eternity, and with the clock ticking on our next flight to Vancouver, we figured we were doomed. Finally, after getting our bags, we dropped them off on another conveyor belt in another area and then had to go up two floors to board a shuttle bus, which would take us to another terminal where we would catch our connecting flight.

When we finally got to the second terminal, we had roughly 15 minutes to get to our gate and board our flight.

We had to go through security again, which was another exercise in futility as security had to go through all our carry-on baggage again. I got through, and while security checked my parents' bags, I sprinted to the gate to try and hold the plane.

We barely made it and boarded our flight, only to sit on the tarmac for 25 minutes after the Air Canada flight crew had several seat mix-ups and had to sort that out before they took off.

I have been in many airports around North America and I can safely say I have never seen a more complicated and time consuming process than the one set up in Toronto.

In other airports, you stay in a secured area, getting on monorail systems that sprint you over to the next terminal. You don't have to go through endless security checks and the baggage areas are closer to the gates. This system in Toronto just plain stinks and who ever designed it should give their head a shake.

After arriving in Vancouver, we went to collect our bags and got only three of six. We decided to wait around as there were several more flights coming in from Toronto.

Nothing on the next flight, but one bag came on the third flight. Frustrated and still missing two bags, we left the airport at 5 p.m. and headed for my parents place in Coquitlam. The last two bags were finally delivered early the next morning.

Losing bags can be one of the pitfalls of travel. I wondered why we would get three bags on one flight, one bag on another flight and two more on yet a third flight. It just doesn't make any sense. It was a great trip, but next time I could do without the luggage problems.