The plan for the trip home was 12 hours. That's almost optimal.
Stunningly, it was 26 hours, replete with weather delays, an all-nighter in the Montreal airport, and 4 layovers: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago.
Essentially, it was like 5 two-hour flights interspersed within 16 hours of waiting time.
Fun! But I'm home now.... a great trip otherwise. Pretty wiped out though.
epilogue: My checked bag showed up in StL immediately, as though the travel gods were saying "see? no harm, no foul". But I'm not buying it.
ps. At least I'm not sick. Last year was worse (I was very sick). Poor Colleen had consumption all through Christmas.