Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flying with Air Canada

Our flight from Halifax was scheduled to leave at 1730, so we got to the airport at three, thinking we'd have plenty of time.

It was a bit strange when we looked at the departure board and didn't see any Air Canada flight at that time, but this became clearer when we saw that the flight had been moved forward three-quarters of an hour to 1645. Which might not have been cause for concern except for the rapidly growing queues at the check-in desks. Well, desk. Air Canada have invested pretty heavily in automated check-in desks, which unfortunately don't seem to work for anyone. I thought it was because Air Canada had changed our flight to Vancouver from a direct to a stop over in Toronto, but seeing as every one of the cheery Canadians that ambled to the self-service desk then had to queue up because the check-in machines didn't work, it probably wasn't just us.

The good news is that at Halifax, there's a line of eight assistance desks if the self-service machine won't check you in. But the bad news is that only one of the eight desks is staffed, by an angry woman who seems to have either amnesia or trust issues, because every time somebody comes to the desk they're greeted with disgruntled surprise that they couldn't check themselves in with the automated system. She grew ever more grumpy as she questioned us about our flight, whether we'd booked it or not, how many bags we had (which seemed more like an accusation of disgusting behaviour than an enquiry about luggage), and then finally she restated what we'd told her ten minutes ago, that our flight had been rescheduled by Air Canada. Tum te tum. A bit like a military engagement in Afghanistan, it seems Canada is easy to get into, but hard to get out of. Or get around in, anyhow.

With that rigmarole over, we walked briskly through the Best Airport Serving Less Than 3 Million Passengers (2005), bought a lobster to fly to Vancouver (I'm a nervous flyer and struggle if I can't be accompanied by a crustacean whilst in the air), then bumbled through security after making an abbreviated farewell to our kind hosts for the last week.

Of course, once we'd rushed to the gate, the flight was delayed by fifteen minutes, so we got to sit down and look out of the windows in search of a plane, hoping that it wasn't in a hangar in St John's waited to be 'groomed' by a man with a bucket and a refuse bag filled with plastic coffee cups. At least the pilots were checking in at the same time as us, so there was some chance the plane would take off. Eventually.

So now I'm sat on a fairly comfortable seat, waiting to join the queue to sit on another slightly less comfortable seat for an hour and a half. The lobster's not bothered - but then he's already been cooked.


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