Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ah, the joys of flying.

I’m currently in seat 15A of an Air Canada 767-300 (without the new interior). I’ve already finished the book I brought to read and don’t feel like starting another one at the moment.

When I was younger, flying as a passenger on an airliner used to be more fun than the actual vacation itself. Now, things are not quite as fun, however, there’s still something to be said for air travel. In this situation, this flight is bringing me back home away from the unpleasant sprawling urbanity that is Canada’s largest city.

The flight was delayed. The Thunderstorms started about an hour and a half before we were scheduled to depart. The ‘strobes’ at Pearson were flashing when I made it to the boarding lounge. That meant that lightening had been reported in the vicinity and ground personnel were not permitted to work on the ramp. This meant no loading or unloading of bags, no marshalling of aircraft, no fuelling. The airport essentially comes to a stand still.

Despite the fact that we boarded the plane at the proper time, once everyone was seated, we got an announcement that there would be a 15 minute delay for push back. After about 20 minutes, it was announced that there would be further delay as there had been a problem with getting the plane unloaded and loaded. After about 45 minutes of waiting at the gate, we got push back, after which time the Captain (poor guy) informed us that there we were roughly #20 for take-off. There was a collective groan from the passengers and on cue, that’s when two babies started loudly crying in stereo. We made the slow trip up taxiway Alpha. At least I got to watch the departing aircraft out the window as they were using 15L for departures.

An hour and 45 minutes later we were airborne. We got a spectacular view of the different layers of clouds with the sunset peeking through at various times. The post take-off announcement was made and included the apology that the main screen for the inflight entertainment wasn’t working this particular flight. The passenger next to me and I shared a good laugh.

This post is not meant as a rant. The Air Canada employees have acted professionally despite the fact that they are Halifax based flight attendants and they’re facing a base closure as of Nov 1st. The passengers have been pretty good as well. Although there was general disappointment about taking off an hour and 45 minutes late for a 2 hour flight, there was no self-righteous idiot demanding that the plane leave, in the middle of a thunderstorm, because the business meeting she needed to get to the next morning was so important. But still, it’s tough. Dealing with the realities of the airline system today can be quite frustrating. There are certain aspects where you have to think “this could be done better” – either more efficiently, more comfortable for the passengers or better for the environment – but getting upset about it doesn’t do much.

We’ve started our descent into Halifax so I’ll finish off this post. It’s still been a fun experience, but travelling as a passenger, or a crew member on the airlines today requires a large helping of patience.

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