Vote air­line off the is­land

Pas­sen­gers stuck in plane on Ot­tawa tar­mac for hours like an episode of Sur­vivor, Canada

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - RICK GIB­BONS Gib­bons is a broad­caster and for­mer pub­lisher of the Ot­tawa Sun

Hello, ev­ery­one. Wel­come to the lat­est episode of Sur­vivor Canada, a pro­gram that puts un­sus­pect­ing Cana­di­ans into in­tol­er­a­ble sit­u­a­tions to test those grand Cana­dian at­tributes of pa­tience, per­se­ver­ance and good man­ners. Es­pe­cially good man­ners.

In this episode, we take sev­eral hun­dred ex­hausted Euro­pean hol­i­day re­turnees aboard two Cana­dian char­ter flights en route to Mon­treal and Toronto on an unan­tic­i­pated side trip to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

But there’s a twist: Pas­sen­gers won’t see the city or even the in­side of the fully air-con­di­tioned air­port ter­mi­nal. It’s their des­tiny

to re­main in their seats in a plane, on a tar­mac in Ot­tawa — pos­si­bly for­ever.

Sound ex­cit­ing? Roll those open­ing cred­its. Please.

How long can th­ese un­sus­pect­ing Cana­di­ans sur­vive on a hot sunny Au­gust af­ter­noon be­fore some­body no­tices or at least says: “Please, may I have some wa­ter?”

How long can they last with­out food, fresh air or a much-needed re­sup­ply of baby di­a­pers?

What will it take to break that hardy Cana­dian ex­te­rior of ci­vil­ity and make one of them ask, ever-so po­litely, for as­sis­tance? Stay tuned for Sur­vivor Canada.

In our first hour, hi­lar­ity en­sues as pas­sen­gers are in­formed by an as­sur­ing air­line voice over the planes’ in­ter­coms that this un­sched­uled side-trip would be just a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience. Sev­eral flight at­ten­dants are sti­fling smiles as pas­sen­gers nod and shuf­fle ner­vously.

Don’t worry, they’re told. They’ll all be home soon enough to their loved ones in Mon­treal and Toronto.

“In the mean­time, re­main in your seats, un­plug your head­sets, put away the iPhones, keep your seat­belts fas­tened, your bags un­der the seats and don’t use the wash­rooms.”

Our Cana­dian con­tes­tants du­ti­fully com­ply.

In Hour 2 of Sur­vivor Canada, we turn things up a notch by re­peat­edly of­fer­ing pas­sen­gers con­tra­dic­tory and ever-more use­less as­sur­ances in both of­fi­cial lan­guages about one thing or an­other, much of it lost in the din of moans, coughs and baby cries.

In Hour 3, it’s time to put Canada’s rep­u­ta­tion for pa­tience and su­per po­lite­ness to the test by run­ning the planes out of fuel and shut­ting down the air con­di­tion­ing.

We even turn out the lights for good mea­sure. My God, how long can th­ese rugged Cana­di­ans en­dure be­fore some­body fi­nally breaks and says “please”?

Hour 4 brings us our first real hint that a Cana­dian just might crack un­der the pres­sure. A phone is pro­duced sur­rep­ti­tiously. The trem­bling hand of a pas­sen­ger be­gins to dial 911. (Will he hear a sym­pa­thetic voice at the other end of the line or face im­mi­nent ar­rest for re­quest­ing as­sis­tance?)

Could this be the break­ing point? Will a Cana­dian ac­tu­ally ask for help?

But wait, an ex­cit­ing sub­plot sud­denly de­vel­ops out­side the air­planes. It’s a Cana­dian stand­off be­tween air­port au­thor­i­ties and air­line staff. It goes some­thing like this:

“Hello, air­line. This is the Ot­tawa In­ter­na­tional Air­port Author­ity. Wel­come to Ot­tawa. You have been sit­ting on our tar­mac for sev­eral hours now and you have not talked to us or re­quested as­sis­tance.

“As you may be aware, Reg­u­la­tion 259, Para­graph 13b of the Canada Air­line Act stip­u­lates quite clearly that if you would like as­sis­tance — per­haps wa­ter or a set of stairs — we are happy to com­ply. But un­der Stand­ing Reg­u­la­tions, it is up to you to re­quest as­sis­tance, not for us to of­fer it.”

The air­line replies: “Thank you, Ot­tawa In­ter­na­tional Air­port Author­ity, for use of your very clean and tidy tar­mac. But we must po­litely dis­agree and there­fore de­cline your gen­er­ous of­fer.

“We won’t be stay­ing long. How­ever, we must re­mind you that it is Cana­dian pro­to­col for you to pro­vide us with as­sis­tance, not for us to re­quest it.”

At this point, weary pas­sen­gers peer through the win­dows as a clas­sic twohour Cana­dian show­down of “You first. No, please, you first” un­folds.

The Cana­dian stand­off is bro­ken only af­ter gov­ern­ment prom­ises a royal in­quiry into The State of Po­lite­ness in Canada and com­pen­sa­tion to both the air­line and air­port author­ity for their in­con­ve­nience. As for the pas­sen­gers, no­body seems to know where they went.

Roll clos­ing cred­its, please.

This pro­gram was brought to you thanks to a sub­sidy from the Cana­dian Sub­sidy Pro­gram where all you have to do is ask.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.