A Misadventure on THE AIRLINE THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED
Posted by David Gamey on 27 Aug 2019.
Whether you embrace or eschew the label of Road Warrior, if you've traveled extensively for business then you have experienced the trials and tribulations of that lifestyle. Your limits have been tested and your plans ruined. In the end you can get angry or get over it. Last week, one of our own had just such a day. The account below represents one persons determined attempt not to let it get to him. It is based on a true story, albeit viewed through the coloured lenses of frustration and joviality a really twisted sense of humour. The names have been changed to protect the guilty and to also avoid any GDPR entanglements.
This morning I arrived at my local airport for a routine short haul flight to conduct an inspection of a high security facility. I arrived well in advance, cleared security efficiently, met my up with my fellow travelers, and set off for our departure gate with the promise of a good day ahead. Unbeknownst to us, all was about to go literally downhill from there.
We found the path to the departure gate and set out on foot. It was a long walk. We passed at least 3 of the same coffee shop before we reached the end of the hallway and an apparent dead-end. After some confusion, we found the secret tunnel that descended to what once must have been a WWII surplus submarine departure area. After an even longer walk through a dismal space with no shops, no people mover, no golf carts, or other transportation, we surfaced in what must have been a highly secret compound. We strongly suspected we had walked to another entirely different country, unfortunately I can't confirm this as Android and my Fitbit haven't been talking to each other for months. I'm quite certain that, had they been, I'd have blown out my steps for the day week month just getting there. Two minutes prior to boarding with no sign of a conveyance of any kind at the gate the staff announced the flight was cancelled due to "maintenance". Knowing something of airline practices, short of a crash or runway excursion, "maintenance" just doesn't happen last minute and this fact would been known hours before. But in a misguided example of customer service the airline decided a person bellowing into an intercom at passengers with sore feet was better communication technique than say something more advanced like an email. Next we proceeded back to Canada the main terminal building. Somewhere en-route, about 7 minutes after the cancelled departure, the airline thoughtfully called to inform us to expect a change. A fact lost on us as there are no cellular antennas inside the catacombs and because we would be far too preoccupied to check voice mails for a while.
After completing my seconded adventure through the secret tunnels, I became convinced that they are no doubt are hiding Hitler, Nazi and lost Civil War gold, Area 51 aliens, as well as the collective treasures of Oak island and the Sierra Madre. Additionally, they were likely cursed. (Note to self - make a pitch to the History Channel for a new treasure hunting reality show and one up the Lagina brothers). Upon arrival at base camp we were surprised that we weren't questioned by Canada Border Services after our extended absence. We queued up for reassignment, a two+ hour wait, and more coffee than was humanly possible wise. With still no sign of a conveyance at our newly assigned gate, I had all the outward appearance of an unflappable professional. Inside was a different story. By this point I was fully expecting to be mailed under dual control in tamper evident serialized envelopes by bonded courier. Finally we were called for boarding! Ever efficient and polite, the gate crew must have been fully aware of the seething mass of frustrated commuters they were dealing with and took every precaution. The pepper spray and tasers were certainly well concealed from the maddening crowd.
The new gate was certainly capable of handling whatever aircraft will succeed the A380 and 747. Clearly from the angle of the ramp our conveyance was not one of those. As we descended the ramp, I noticed a sign reading "trucks use low gear, $500 Fine" before arrival at the "plane". I use quotes here because this was a remarkably unusual aircraft having double-decker canvas wings and some insignia. Notably, "Sopwith" and "Curse you Red Baron" printed on the side. Entry was through a porthole with thoughtful cushions for both head and knees. The real reason for the cushions was not for your protection but to lull you into a false sense of security. Certainly semi-comatose passengers are more manageable than someone fully awake. Sadly the deception worked as the cushions didn't save me from a concussion on the overhead bin rack which looked about the right size for a ladies clutch purse. As we pushed back, the pilot had to be reminded to keep the tail of her scarf inside the planes' window. The destination ATC held our departure further as their air controller was having a sneezing fit and they were worried about how the turbulence would affect us.
Finally we were cleared for takeoff. The engines, if I can call them that, roared to life sounding like a cross between a Singer sewing machine on metha-amphetamine and a North American hairdryer in a European 240V socket. The trip down the runway was surprisingly quick. While I couldn't for a second see where they had hidden the after burners they were clearly working. After take-off "The Rotation" could become the next new thrill attraction at Canada's Wonderland. Later, I found out that we'd left just ahead of Space-X's new super sonic transport jet prototype and our pilot was asked to "pick it up a bit" as Elon's new bird didn't turn well.
Once aloft, I decided to see if I could make up some time on work; however and to my disappointment, I discovered that the tiny tray tables didn't allow me to open a sandwich let alone a laptop. I briefly considered going old school with pen and paper but concluded that with all the vibration I wouldn't be able to decipher my own writing. The only tool left was my smart phone and the mercies of auto-correct. After updating my last will and testament, I spent the rest of the flight recording my thoughts. At one point I began to suspect the longer flight time of our small "plane" was not because it was actually slower but because they needed to route us by waterfowl sanctuaries to relieve the engines. The pre-descent speech omitted any reference to "upright and locked" which left me wondering why I failed to realize the seats didn't recline before then? I'll blame the concussion. There was no under-seat storage as the plane was equipped with the latest "Bedrock" breaking system for landings. Willma and Fred in the cockpit informed us with all the extra passengers from the cancelled flight that we would all be helping out in that activity. They apologized for the inconvenience and added that they hoped we all had new thick soled shoes. Thoughtfully, Health CPE's (Fitness Participation credits) are available for passengers. The extra load is also responsible for the loss of in-flight snacks as the gerbils barn-swallows needed more peanuts. Those of us with strong arms were asked to move to the window seats as a precaution in case we were needed. Again I am reminded that we could have mailed ourselves to our destination more comfortably. I hoped the day wouldn't get any worse but as the coffee caught up with me I suspected that I'd have to check out the facility (it sure seemed like there was only one) shortly. The opening of the door couldn't be missed as the wind noise was deafening. Either that or they'd finally found D.B.Cooper.
What followed was a highly compressed and surprisingly successful day. During the return trip we were hijacked in a taxi - a stressful event that turned out to be a misunderstanding. And in typical Canadian fashion, the driver apologized and didn't try to charge for the detour. A second cancelled flight at the airport turned out to be several blessings in disguise. Firstly, we were rescheduled in a real plane that had reclining seats, jet engines, and more than one washroom. We also had more time for food and drink at the airport pub. This was followed by a shorter, safe, uneventful and pleasant return flight. My new insight as to why some people kiss the ground after flights. Getting to sleep in my own bed again. And most importantly, not ruining my whole day by getting angry over things beyond my control.
You just can't make stuff like this up.
Take care all of you and don't let them get you down!