Be­hind the cur­tain

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Editorial - Andy Barker Andy Barker at abdp9@hot­

Reg­u­lar trav­ellers with Ma­rine At­lantic can at­test that the lo­gis­tics of the board­ing pro­ce­dures haven’t re­ally changed much over the years.

Even the 9-11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks had min­i­mal im­pact. The only notable changes in­clude the ve­hi­cle driver now hav­ing to show a photo ID and ferry prop­er­ties, on both sides, are all fenced. Thank­fully, trav­el­ling by sea from here is still quite re­laxed, ca­sual.

How­ever, de­part­ing by air from here is nei­ther ca­sual nor re­laxed as all pas­sen­gers are treated as po­ten­tial ter­ror­ists.


Re­cently, at Gan­der air­port a guy ahead of me had his back­pack thor­oughly ex­am­ined. Worse again was all the swab­bing on a twowheeled walker (look­ing for ex­plo­sives) pushed by a lit­tle old lady.

In both cases, if air­port se­cu­rity could have read my mind, they would have heard, “Hey, back off with all the se­cu­rity check­ing non­sense; they’re just or­di­nary folks from around here. The most deadly thing he could be car­ry­ing would be salt meat. And any­thing she’s car­ry­ing that might ex­plode would be bot­tled moose!”

Once past the over-the-top air­port se­cu­rity my Air Canada flight to Ot­tawa via Hal­i­fax and Mon­treal had an un­ex­pected twist. At Mon­treal my seat­ing lo­ca­tion was re­as­signed to busi­ness class with the check-in clerk not­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of no meal.

It was my third time ever be­ing bumped up, and it last hap­pened 20 years ago.

My un­fa­mil­iar­ity with the for­eign ter­ri­tory showed al­most im­me­di­ately. As I opened the very large over­head bin for my coat, a flight at­ten­dant was at my side im­me­di­ately. “I will take your coat sir.”

Off she went with it and straight­away re­turned with a small bot­tle of wa­ter and ear phones; au­to­matic ser­vice, no ask­ing.

Soon af­ter­wards she made her way to me, ask­ing if I would be hav­ing a bev­er­age and a meal once air­borne. Be­ing out of my league again I in­quired whether they were com­pli­men­tary. Her po­lite yes had me tell her, bring it on.

Nor­mally where I sit on a plane, the space be­tween you and other pas­sen­gers fits into the cat­e­gory of “tight fit­ting.” How­ever, in busi­ness class (Em­braer 175 air­craft, Brazil) there was plenty of leg room and the space was even more lux­u­ri­ous as the ex­tra-large seats be­side me, in front of me and across from me were all empty. Even if some­one had been sit­ting be­side me, the con­sole be­tween the seats would pre­vented our arms from ever touch­ing.

Once air­borne, the flight at­ten­dant pulled over the cur­tain that sep­a­rated busi­ness class from the other pas­sen­gers. Amaz­ingly that cur­tain gave me the sense that I was on a pri­vate plane.

The pri­vacy ser­vice next in­cluded the flight at­ten­dant hand­ing out hot tow­els. I gladly wiped my hands, but I could see a guy nearby hav­ing a mini-bath as he wiped his hands, face and neck.

As the flight at­ten­dant van­ished with the used tow­els I had time to won­der where to put my meal and beer. My quandary had to do with the fact that seat in front of me had no at­tached tray.

For­tu­nately, that mys­tery was solved. I could see a woman ahead of me and I watched as she, non­cha­lantly, flipped open her seat’s out­side arm and pulled up the hid­den tray. Whew! Thus, I was able to en­joy my free Heineken and a dressed-up fancy salad with­out look­ing like a to­tal id­iot in front of the flight at­ten­dant.

On the Gan­der-Hal­i­fax flight I was served cof­fee in a pa­per cup, given a wee pa­per nap­kin and free pret­zels. In busi­ness class my beer came in a real glass, the food in a real dish and my solid steel uten­sils were rolled in a large cloth nap­kin. La-di-da!

A few years ago, I un­know­ingly car­ried a small blade in a cu­ti­cle file set. At Gan­der air­port they were about to con­fis­cate the whole set, but luck­ily, I was able to keep it once a se­cu­rity em­ployee gra­ciously used pli­ers to snap off the blade.

That mem­ory came to me as I sat in the busi­ness class where I now had a sturdy knife that could eas­ily be used to kill or maim some­one. Thus, it con­firmed yet again the ridicu­lous­ness of break­ing off that tiny blade at Gan­der air­port.

My cu­rios­ity had me check out the busi­ness class wash­room, which was dis­ap­point­ing as it was sim­i­lar to other air­plane wash­rooms. As I re­turned to my seat, my meal tray men­tor gave me the once over. Was it that ob­vi­ous that I was a bumped-up ple­beian?

My last treat was tasty, freshly roasted al­monds; no pret­zels for you, sir, in busi­ness class. And lastly the flight at­ten­dant brought me my coat as we ap­proached the gate at Ot­tawa air­port.

Most likely my next flight will have me sit­ting in my nor­mal sec­tion; the cheap seats, steer­age.


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