Regular readers might remember that I took a trip recently.
It was a brief visit to Calgary, to visit my father for his 70th birthday. At the time, I wrote about how I was taking a risk, despite the COVID precautions in place.
I wrote that post while I was in Calgary, blissfully forgetting that every flight is a risk, COVID or no COVID. A risk to your sanity.
So, Flair Airlines.
If you haven’t heard by now, Flair is a newish, low-cost, independent carrier that flies a handful of routes in Canada. Luckily for me, one of those routes is Victoria to Calgary. They only fly Thursdays and Sundays, but that coincided neatly with my father’s birthday weekend.
Now, I want to be clear about a few things before I get into this. I had no problems with booking, checking in, or indeed actually being on the planes that this company owns.
Their in-flight staff were perfectly fine, professional, and more-or-less pleasant. The flight was dirt cheap, literally $78 round-trip, taxes included. I came with a single carry-on bag and I had no issues.
I am perfectly happy getting no in-flight service, no water, no mixed nuts, nothing at all, if it means I can get to Calgary in an hour and change from Victoria.
So what was the problem? I’ll come to that. But I want to establish that Flair, itself, is likely not the problem here.
This isn’t, truly, just going to be “another complaint about flights.” It’s more a commentary on “how did we get here that ‘another complaint about flights’ is a genre of writing?”
My particular entry for this genre started when I got an email notice that my flight had been delayed. One hour, 35 minutes. Okay. Fine.
Another email came shortly after. Now delayed three hours, 45 minutes.
Then another email.
Delayed by four hours, 45 minutes.
A distant alarm bell rang in my head.
Five hours, 50 minutes.
When at last, no more emails came, I journeyed to Calgary International Airport, swathed in the inky blackness of 10 minutes to midnight. A proverbial doomsday clock.
At the gate, waiting with the other confused souls, an announcement came on, informing us that our aircraft, apparently delayed, had arrived, and we would be able to board at 12:15 a.m.
A haggard cheer went up.
That spirit of camaraderie was shattered moments later when the gate agent sheepishly informed us that there had been a medical emergency as the plane landed.
We couldn’t be MAD, though. Who can get mad at being late when somebody might be dying?
Well, as it happened, suffice it to say that several pieces of evidence emerged as to the nature of this medical emergency, such that I can conclude two things:
- It was non life-threatening
- It caused a bodily substance to be…left…on several seats
I’m not saying this person was at fault. I am saying that there are measures that can help handle these things, and I was suddenly keenly aware that Flair did not stock its plane with air sickness bags.
A frill cut too far, I fear.
Now, again, I did not get mad in the moment. I did not transform into Karentron, bane of managers everywhere. Instead, I think I felt a crushing sense of inevitability.
This is just how air travel…IS.
When you really think about it, it’s absolutely wild that we rely so heavily to get around this ludicrously large country in a bunch of tin cans with a million moving parts, strapped in with over a hundred strangers, any of whom could decide at any moment to bug out and declare themselves Napoleon of the Airstream as they assault their fellow passengers with the sharp edge of a stale sesame snap.
The point is: there’s so much that can go wrong. I’m not saying you need to be afraid of air travel, but I am saying that we’ve become so numb to the normality of delays that it really begs the question: why the hell are we still doing this?
Sure, we’ve brought in rules around compensation (and I have emailed Flair, because while I may not be Karen in the streets, I am definitely Karen in the sheets (don’t think too hard about that. Or do)) — but regardless of those rules, we know that there’s a constant cascade of flight backups.
And I know, I know, I live a life of privilege, my ancestors had to get around China with effing ox carts, but still, I can’t help but wonder: isn’t there a better way?
Via Rail doesn’t cut it, especially with these namby-pamby worker’s rights that stop us from murdering railway employees these days.
Highway 1 is such a punchline it literally filled a South Park episode as a joke.
Maybe this is as good as it gets. Maybe flying in at 4 a.m., blearily half-hallucinating a cab ride home, is as much as we can muster.
Welp. Until such time as we sort out the kinks in the matter transporter (you look good with a fly’s head, really), I guess I’ll be riding the vomit-comet yet again.
Welcome to Ford on Fridays: a weekly column where Victoria Buzz staff writer Tim Ford offers his thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of the perfect joke.
This column is for comedic purposes only. Please feel free to send feedback, thoughts, and [constructive] criticisms to firstname.lastname@example.org.