Friday, October 5, 2012

The Flying Turkey Travel Awards: Part 1

    Air Canada was going to win this hands down. I have been wanting to award Air Canada a Flying Turkey for the past eight years, since hubby and I started using them as our airline of no-choice to get back to London. Why? Because our nearest airport, Buffalo, doesn't have transatlantic flights and the temptation of driving - well all right, driving three or four hours - across the border and through the dullest part of Canada to the "most improved" (their words, not mine - but they don't say what it started off like) airport, Toronto Pearson, so as not to have to change planes just - but only just - trumped taking a US airline from Buffalo and missing our connection.
   Air Canada and I have shared many happy moments.
   There was the time when we stood four hours on the runway because they only bothered to check to see if any bits had dropped off the plane just before it took off again and not just after it landed, as any sane person would do.
   There was the other time we stood for four hours on the runway when the luggage conveyor belt broke at Pearson airport and we ended up flying without our luggage.
   There was yet another time at Heathrow when all the Air Canada computers went down because someone at HQ in Winnipeg decided one o'clock in the morning was a  good time for some routine maintenance. Trouble was, it wasn't one o'clock in the morning at Heathrow and 300 people waiting to get on a plane had to have everything, from boarding passes to luggage labels, written out by hand.
   There is Air Canada's state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system. Anyone who ever takes an Air Canada flight will be familiar with the following announcement, on every flight, usually about an hour into it,  just when you've settled into the film, "Well folks, we've found some of the screens aren't working, so we're going to have to reset the screens, so we'd just like to ask for your patience...." If you're lucky, the screen starts working just as you're about to land.
  The fabled Air Canada pizzas have now gone - they were too awful, even for Air Canada. (Stewardess to hubby, "If you think this smells bad, try tasting it!") But there's still the fabled Air Canada breakfast. They used to serve croissants. I once got a croissant which was soaked through, as the little water bottle had leaked. I asked for another one. They didn't have any more. I had to wait until First Class had picked over their bread basket so they could bring me the dregs. Now, Air Canada is economising and no longer serves croissants. It's a choice between omelette and pancakes. Except, if you're sitting near the back of the plane, they've run out of omelettes before they get to to you. (Two flights ago, an enterprising stewardess - can't get used to calling them flight attendants - went down the aisle beaming, "LOVELY pancakes? Or, er, an omelette?" She did good. Her pancakes had a lot more takers, though that was before they'd tasted them of course.)
   On that flight, my reading light didn't work. After a hopeful suggestion from the stewardess that she try "resetting it" (the unions probably don't let them change light bulbs) it still didn't work. So I sat in darkness, even though it was a day flight because they make everyone close their blinds so people can watch the films, or those whose screens are working can.
  When the drinks trolley came round I said, "I think I deserve a free bottle of wine," and sure enough, she fished one out of the stash buried under the coffee pots and orange juice cartons, where they don't think anyone will notice them.  When we first started flying with AC it was champagne for breakfast. Then that turned into Buck's Fizz. Now it's beg and plead.
  And there are the announcements. If you hate in-flight announcement, imagine each one being repeated and in French! Montreal-to-Paris, maybe but Toronto-to-London? C'mon! Everyone on that plane either speaks English, or doesn't speak French. It's political correctness gone mad.
     Not to mention the fact that Air Canada is outrageously expensive due to all the taxes the People's Democratic Nanny State over the border piles on its hapless travellers. Even a so called "free flight" we got with our hard earned airmiles cost nearly as much as a paid-up flight from the US would have done. Oh and it's impossible to get an upgrade. And these clowns have no competition, at least not for the day flights, which are the only way to minimise jetlag.
  So, regrettably, we've now made the decision to take our custom elsewhere and throw in our lot with the missed connections.
  So you see, Air Canada was right up there in line for the first Flying T, with a long service medal thrown in but for two things. Someone else beat them to it (find out who shortly). And the steward on our flight back this time was such a sweetie that I didn't have the heart.....

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