This is how I imagine myself flying...
the reality, however, is usually very different!
HBC Barbie, available at HBC Trading Post at the EIA.
This post is the second in my series for Edmonton International Airport (EIA). In my first post, last year, I talked about the forgotten magic of flying and about my experience with the eateries at the EIA. I was invited back this year to check out their shopping experience and as someone who is an avid shopaholic (and trust me, I make no apologies for that), I was pretty excited to see what the EIA had to offer.
I've been lucky enough to travel a lot, and in turn, experience airports all over the world. From the busy hustle and bustle of London Heathrow to the cramped discomfort of the tiny out-of-the-way Charleroi in Belgium, from the upmarket, almost intimidating Middle Eastern airports, to the recently renovated and colourful Sahar Airport in Mumbai, flying to me is synonymous with the start of vacations, or the excitement of seeing family and friends after a long time. I am an unashamed romantic when it comes to airports and railways stations, and the arrivals scenes from the movie 'Love Actually' always gets me emotional (please, ignore my love of corny British romcoms).
Me and airport shopping, however, haven't been the best of mates. It was easier when I was a solo traveller, for sure. I had the time to wander around, window shop, relax and eat and drink. Travelling with my daughter put an end to that.
It was one memorable trip from Manchester to Vancouver, that everything came to a head. Adz and I had an early start at Manchester, but at the end of a fairly comfortable trip, my then eighteen month old girl decided to have the most epic poop explosion. Er, on my lap! Now I was a pretty well prepared mama, with everything packed, including a well stocked diaper bag with a change of clothes for her. It was still a frantic dash to the loo, holding the stinky monster, disembarking passengers giving the both of us a wide berth, and I got her cleaned up and changed, while flight attendants knocked at the door, trying to get us off the plane so they could turn around. After that panic, we were then, thankfully, bussed to Terminal 3 at Heathrow, everyone around me still giving us lots of space. I was a bit puzzled by this, seeing as the kid was now clean... that is, until I looked down and got a whiff of myself. Let us just say that it was not a pretty sight or smell and guess what, I certainly hadn't packed clothes for me.
Cue the two of us rushing around Terminal 3, trying to find a clean set of clothes for me among all the designer and high-end stores. I ended up in a hundred pound pair of jeans that I could ill-afford and a 'I Love London' souvenir shirt from the tourist shop. Not my finest moment for sure, but I bet the passengers on the London-Vancouver flight were pretty relieved.
Ever since then, I've appreciated an airport that caters to every kind of traveller, not just the ones that can afford the designer stuff. And among all of them, I have a real soft spot for the EIA, my home airport.
All of us have experienced that same frantic, oh dear, I've forgotten something, rush that I know so well... or if you're my other half, the oh no, I haven't got the wife and kids anything from my conference trip, rush. This is where I really appreciated the EIA's no nonsense approach to shopping. There was something for everybody, and for every budget. Starting with the travel stores, where you can pick up everything from luggage to warm flight socks, to expensive wines and whiskies to make for that special host or hostess (or like for my husband, a collector's single malt) to those things that you usually forget.
I got the Macherie Moor for the husband! Available at A Flight of Wine and Spirits at the EIA.
In my case, headphones for the child! Have you spent an entire eight hour flight holding earphones to an itty bitty kid's ears? I have, and it's glorious... um, not. So a pair of reasonably priced headphones is almost always a search away, and thanks to the tech stores at EIA, can even be fun for the kids. Adz very much appreciated these ultra-adorable Star Wars BB8 headphones from Tech on the Go. I very much appreciated the fact that these headphones are restricted in how loud they can get, thus saving my kid's hearing (note: it does not, however, cure their very selective hearing... especially when it comes to you yelling at them about their chores... but still, with these headphones on, you know they can hear you, even when they are pretending not to).
How adorable are these headphones?
Shopping at EIA is remarkable stress free, especially when you are already stressed out with the thought of flying with kids... or just flying in general. Along with the ease of shopping, you can also take advantage of their Priority Valet service which considerably eases the pain of parking and dragging your luggage and kids along. I also took a peek into their Plaza Premium Lounge and I know I will be taking full advantage of it when I am flying out to India later in December this year... especially considering that I'll be flying with my nine year old and my brand new baby.
And talking of said kids, I was also very happy to see a well stocked version of my beloved Chapters Indigo store, and was thrilled to see that they had the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar in stock. Adz was a very happy little girl when I toted this back home. They also had a good selection of baby items which I know I'll be taking full advantage of.
You don't have to be a shopaholic to enjoy the advantages of shopping at the EIA, simply because they pretty much have everything that you could need. And you can take advantage of their rewards program too, to be entered into contests and draws and discounts.
And, like I mentioned in my previous EIA post, we need to bring back the magic of flying, and EIA is a good start there. I am certainly looking forward to travelling through there later this year, and I know that a stress free start to the journey will only mean a great experience for everyone involved. Bon voyage!
Disclosure: I was offered a paid-for shopping trip at the EIA. All opinions and stories are my own, as you would expect.