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Stuck at the airport, then I remembered this was in my backpack

Ready for vacation

After two years of lockdown who isn’t ready for a vacation. I know I was. I went to Hawaii with my 6-year-old to see friends and to spend time relaxing on the beach. I’m a mom so you know I was prepared. I looked at flight requirements for flying from Vancouver to Hawaii. I was vaccinated and tested before arriving. Getting there wasn’t the problem. Ok. It was a problem but it wasn’t the biggest problem of the trip. Traveling with a 6-year-old during a pandemic isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

Hey! I’m on vacation

I spent a week in Hawaii eating shaved ice, exploring the island, and walking on black sand beaches. I love snorkeling and watching the tropical fish. And of course, doing the required Costco run. Did you know Hawaii has four Costcos and two Sam’s Clubs? I let my daughter eat Cocoa Puffs for breakfast instead of the hotel’s $45 continental breakfast. We’re on vacation. Chocolate sugary cereal is ok once in a while. As the week went on I wondered what turning to work would be like. There would probably be a mountain of emails to go through. Ugh. There’s always a price to vacations.

Oh. You’re late to check-in. I don’t know if you are going to make the flight. We have stopped checking bags.

Trouble at the Airport

How did you react to the news that countries were opening up their borders? If you were like me you jumped out of your purple office chair with excitement. The USA-Canadian border is essential to humans from both countries and of course for my relaxation.
We got to the airport to check-in, we were already running late. “Photo identification please.” The airline agent said. I handed them our Canadian passports. “I see you’re flying to Canada today. I’ll need to see proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test certificate for everyone.” I froze. I was vaccinated, but my daughter has not gotten the vaccine yet because of her age. And unlike the country’s public health director, I did not know every ever-changing health regulation for traveling. I told the agent that my daughter was unvaccinated because she was 6-years old. Hoping there was an exception for small children. She glanced at the passport.

I was in panic mode trying to think of how to get a negative COVID-19 before the plane leaves the airport.


2 hours before the airplane takes off.

“I’m sorry. We can’t let you board the plane without a negative COVID-19 test for your daughter.” The agent said. I left the check-in desk to figure out my next step. Was there a testing clinic near the airport? In the airport? I did a quick Google search. No luck. The closest one was 15 minutes away. Then getting a test might take 30 minutes. If it’s PCR it takes 24-48 hours depending on the lab. Good thing I work at a biomed company and know this. I quickly asked the agent about switching flights. There weren’t any later flights that day. Ugh. As nice as my friends are I did not want to be in Hawaii another day when work was starting to pile up at the office. Plus another night or two at a hotel just to get a COVID-19 test. No thanks. I went to every other airline desk asking about a later flight that day. There were no later flights. All flights for the day we’re leaving in the next three hours.

I put my passports back in my backpack. Then it hit me. My backpack. The thing I had been carrying as I ran from airline desk to airline desk had 5 COVID-19 rapid antigen tests in them. Could I test my daughter right here at the airport and make my flight? I called a clinic I had used before and asked them about my plan. They confirmed that if I did the test while I had them on a video call they could certify the test. I held my phone up with one hand while swabbing my daughter’s nose with the other. Throwing in the reagents to the test and got the result. It was negative. Thankfully! The clinic emailed me the certificate and I was back at the counter.

“Here is my daughter’s negative COVID-19 test.”

“Oh. You’re late to check-in. I don’t know if you are going to make the flight. We have stopped checking bags.” I looked at our bags. What did they have? A few chocolate gifts for friends. Our snorkels and swimwear. “Could we board if we threw away our bags?” The agent blinked in surprise. “Hmm. You can have TSA inspect them to be discarded.”

“Let’s do it.”


1 hour before take-off

The line to get through airport security was long. Why do they have all their flights at the same time again? I distracted my 6-year-old as we waited.

We slowly move through the line. At the passport/boarding pass check I heard it.

“We are starting the boarding process for flight 6042 to Vancouver. We invite anyone traveling with a small child or infant to board first.” I could have been boarding right now.

Were we going to make it?


30 minutes before take-off

We rushed through airport security. Shoes on or off? Once they determined that most of my backpack was snacks and antigen tests we were free to go.

Running to the gate with my daughter in my arms “Last call for flight 6042 to Vancouver”

“I’m here. I’m here.” With our boarding passes in hand.

Three steps into the airplane with my daughters and they closed the airplane door behind me. We made it. Now all I have to worry about is the giant pile of emails waiting for me on Monday.

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This is not medical or legal advice. Travel regulations are constantly changing. Look at the most recent version of COVID-19 travel requirements.