A Vancouver couple almost didn’t make it to Greece for a planned proposal after a 56-hour journey to Santorini.
As 2022 wrapped up, Winona Bhatti got engaged to her partner Jobun Rai. Before that, they ran a gauntlet of missed flights, delays, and confusion that threatened to tear apart their romantic getaway.
“He almost couldn’t ask me to be his fiancé,” Bhatti told Daily Hive. “I was told the purpose was just a vacation, but the main purpose was for him to propose to me… I had a slight idea he was proposing, but it was definitely a surprise!”
The pair were headed to Santorini, Greece – it was supposed to be a 15-hour trip, starting at YVR airport, where they departed on November 28 at 5 pm.
“We were supposed to arrive in Santorini on November 29 at 10 pm, but we actually arrived on December 1 at 10 am – the morning of the planned proposal,” said Bhatti.
“56 hours, 14 potential flights, eight missed flights, seven airports, two operational issues, two lost check-ins, one severe thunderstorm warning and one snowstorm later, we got there the morning of the proposal.”
On their way from Vancouver to Calgary via WestJet, they were delayed due to operational issues and missed their next flight.
“They wanted us to leave the next day, but then we would have missed the proposal. Jobun talked to WestJet, and they decided to reroute us to Minneapolis so we could make it on time,” said Bhatti.
They then flew from Calgary to Minneapolis via Delta.
“We got on a plane that was supposed to go to New York, but we got deplaned because of the weather. The entire airport shut down due to a snowstorm in Minneapolis,” said Bhatti. Her partner spoke to Delta agents and got them on a flight to Paris. As they started boarding, the flight had operational issues and was delayed.
They arrived in Paris late via Air France because of the delays in Minneapolis.
“There were no flights that went straight to Athens that would ensure we got there in time for the proposal, so we got routed to Rome.”
The couple got to Rome on time and made their next flight, via Aegean, to Athens. “We got to Athens, but there were no further flights that left for Santorini that day, so we had to get a hotel that we paid for.”
The next day, they went from Athens to Santorini via Sky Express without incident.
Finally, after 56 hours of travelling, the couple enjoyed a magical proposal, captured on video:
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Ultimately, the proposal was a success. The pair met back in January 2017 at a Blenz in Surrey Central after connecting on Bumble, and are now planning to get married in the summer of 2023.
Because of the delays, they missed two nights of their stay in Santorini, which they were still on the hook for paying. As their vacation ended, they had a long journey back to Vancouver, too.
The couple booked their tickets via FlightHub because the prices were enticingly low. But Bhatti says she’ll never book with FlightHub in the future.
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“One of my biggest learnings was when you purchase a ticket from somewhere like FlightHub, and they book them with airlines that are not partners, you need to leave the airport, get your bags from baggage claim, and recheck them in.”
“If you are not able to do this in time, you will be considered a no-show. This happened to five other Canadians and us in London,” said Bhatti.
They arrived in London via Sky Express on time, but were delayed because another plane was parked in their spot. They had to grab their bags from baggage claim, go to a different terminal, check their bags, go through security, and run to the gate.
But they were late to check their bags by five minutes and had to repurchase tickets. They paid $3,500 to rebook with Air Canada.
Though they are out some money paying for missed hotel stays and tickets home, love won in Greece and even the worst airport delays couldn’t come between them.