"Normally this page is dedicated to fun and humour, but today I am making an exception and speaking of something I feel is important, on a more serious level. Here goes...
In regard to the delay of Air Canada Flight AC268 I have some thoughts:
(And to be honest, the most important ones in my opinion, are near the end, so skip ahead if you are short of time.)
After having an extremely difficult trip home in Canada ( I currently live in the UK) due to: bad health (both of the chronic and puking flu kind), three close family members being hospitalised for serious issues after my arrival, heartbreaking news about friends there as well as many tricky details that complicated everything, I’m not gonna lie, the tears trickled down my face after hearing the pilot explain there would be a delay. (Did I mention my husband had gone back to our UK home for work, two weeks prior?)
So yeah. I cried.
The chance of my making my connecting flight in Toronto was unlikely at best. (And this is a spoiler but not to the point of the story...I didn’t make it.)
As my tears fell, strong emotions arose from the mouths of people around me, and as the flight attendants began making apologies to those expressing their disgust and anger, I thought, hang on a min. Let’s think this through.
Before I go any further, I shall quote the Captain’s announcement to the best to my ability, from memory:
“Hello, this is your Captain speaking. Unfortunately folks, we’ve been informed by Control, that due to a runway being down for repairs in Toronto, we cannot land on schedule, and therefore cannot take off until we have a timeslot to land. We’ve been told this will be a two hour delay, so we will need to wait here loaded at the gate until we get the go ahead to take off. The Company is trying to get us a sooner landing time, but for now it stands to be a two hour delay. I will keep you updated as we hear more. I do apologise.”
As intense questions of, “Why did you load the plane if you knew there would be a delay?!?” and, “I have a connection to make!” rang through the cabin aimed at the flight attendants, the answers of, “We didn’t know about the delay at the time of loading,” and “I’m sorry about this.” were not deemed as acceptable responses.
I’m pretty sure you felt differently when the captain came back on the intercom about half an hour later to say, “Okay folks, so due to so many of you having connecting flights, we have been told we are priority and have bumped another less priority flight, so we will be leaving immediately.” Yes, I’m pretty sure you weren’t upset we were loaded and ready to go at that point.
I’m also pretty sure the people on the flight of “less priority” who were then stuck somewhere on Good Friday waiting to fly, were equally distressed about being delayed. Even as one with a connection that I had really been hoping to make, the thought of “us” being more important than “them,” didn’t sit so well in my spirit.
I understand that the gentlemen voicing their angst to the flight attendants about this not being the first time, and that Air Canada had better make this right, were frustrated, but is this a good time for me to point out the obvious? A runway needed repair at an airport. I am about to gently place two glaring realities under an even more glaring spotlight:
a) How is this the Airline’s fault? Actually, I can’t really find fault anywhere in this situation...unless there was a literal fault in the tarmac on the runway which leads me to my next point.
b) Does landing in a giant pothole excite you? Because I feel the result may not have been the simple spillage of a water bottle on a silk tie, but rather death or maiming by fiery plane crash. (This is probably a little extreme, but this exaggerated word picture might help get my point across, yes?)
I’m also pretty sure that the pregnant woman with the 2-year-old that just wanted to run, or the couple that were on their way to announce their engagement to their family on Easter weekend, or the world traveller who was already exhausted from days spent in airports and airplanes, or the young man flying home to bury his brother who died in a car crash, or, or, or, were also frustrated.
May I mention the flight attendants hoping to get home to their children and tuck them in for night? Or the Captain and First Officer whose partners at home just wanted to spend Easter weekend with them for once?
Can you imagine the day all of the air traffic control and airport employees must’ve had? Reorganizing flights, takeoff and landing times, seating, connections, PLUS the anger directed their way?
I am also pretty sure Air Canada wasn’t thrilled with the added costs of this single delay. (Oh right. We bumped another flight which meant another delay. And another? (Do you feel the ripple effect in that sentence?) And I’m just thinking out loud here, but I’m pretty sure there was more than one Air Canada flights landing and taking off in Toronto that day. I don’t proclaim to know the ins and outs of airline costs or budgets, but I can’t imagine this particular day did those budgets (or CFOs) any favours.
I know that ending the flight in a holding pattern wasn’t ideal, (well, obviously it didn’t end end there) and in fact was what caused my own connection to become unachievable, but again, I’m assuming the alternative wasn’t great. (Fiery pothole plane crash? Bumping a less priority plane also in the air causing a fuel crisis ending in a (less fiery) plane crash? Again...probably a little extreme, I know.)
I have one last thought. At what point did we humans let ourselves take so for granted, the ability to get in a machine and be flown over mountains and oceans and thousands of miles in a matter of mere hours? Yup...the delay was an inconvenience. Yup...it was frustrating. Yup, for some of us, it was one last punch to an emotionally wrecked gut. But I got to spend precious time with some dear friends, my 95 year old grandmother, siblings, our ill and aging parents, and yes, our two year old nephew - who has brain cancer - and I got to meet his brand new baby sister.
So, on that note I’d like to say thank you.
Thank you Toronto Pearson Airport, for making your runways safe for landing.
Thanks to the flight attendants that stayed calm, polite, respectful and helpful while trapped in a aircraft full of disappointed and frustrated people. Thanks also to Air Canada for looking after me by getting me on the next flight a mere few hours later.
Thanks to aircraft inventors of days gone by, Air Traffic Control and specifically Air Canada in this case, for making it possible for me to span that ocean and see the ones I love in both the celebratory times and the difficult times.
In a world full of pain, turmoil, sadness and disunity, I can’t help but think, why not choose appreciation and graciousness when given the chance, even when it doesn’t come instinctively? More often than we think, external perspective can lead to understanding and humility, and those are reactions I hope to be more generous with.
I get it, airports have to work on their infrastructure, but it seems like the plan to accommodate the construction was poorly designed and executed.
Ahem.....while also minimizing the inconvenience to the fewest PAX and putting the burden of finding an alternative on those best able to afford doing so.JohnnyHotRocks wrote:They did reduce the slots...it is nearly impossible for any biz jets to get in there and it is prohibited from 1500-2000....they had to take it out on someone so they chose the planes that generate the lowest landing fees!