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Devion's Views #160

FROM PLEASURABLE TO TOLERABLE TO TORTURE (posted Aug. 6/18)

Like many, I spent a lot of time on airplanes.

Like some, I fondly remember when air travel was something to look forward to; a pleasurable experience.

Back then Wardair was considered the best of the best in Canada.

We are often reminded that everything is better today than back then.

There's no doubt scientific and technological advances has improved many things.

BUT, and there's always a but...like the genius' who oversee and run the airline industry that have managed to turn something pleasurable into something as painful as a root canal.

                                           Quiz question

Which of these experiences would you prefer having?

a) a root canal

or

b) a ride on Air Canada Rouge

Answer: a root canal

Why?

Well, while both cost approximately the same, your friendly dentist will always provide something to dull the pain.

Thanks, in part, to Osama Bin Laden's followers, the overseers and managers of airlines, terminals and all the associated apparatus' adopted a different mission statement and principal objective:

1) Make air travel as uncomfortable as humanly possible while,

2) Making as much money, for the shareholders, as possible.

                               A Great White North example

Air Canada was once proudly referred to as 'the people's airline'.

Then, along came their version of frugal flying for the masses...Air Canada Rouge.

Their quest: keep up with competitors introducing new levels of passenger torture.

The ads promise - low cost - no frills - customer service?

However, on closer examination, when the cost of a-la-carte menu of necessary travel essentials, like a ticket, seat, luggage, etc., is added up, the words - low cost - disappears - no frills - translates to "testing passenger tolerance"

Customer service, that once came with the price of a ticket, has evaporated.

The paying customer now works for the airline, which means: 

Get your own boarding pass and luggage tags,

Lift heavy luggage onto weight scale,

Show boarding pass to eight different people,

Remove articles of clothing, jewelry, etc.,

Endure intrusive security pat downs, body scans and stand in endless lineups.

If you are randomly selected for additional screening, do not complain or object. Proceed with security escort to enclosed plastic tube, raise arms over head, smile and count to ten.

You have just received an intense beam of monochromatic light or other electromatic radiation by stimulated emission of photons from excited atoms or molecules, revealing images of your body parts for the private entertainment of a specially selected security guy, who really loves this job.

Feeling better and/or more secure now?

If you paid extra for a seat with reasonable leg room...wait for it...you have just volunteered for another job.

A smiling, fast talking flight attendant will explain, during a two-minute training ritual, that in the event of an emergency landing on land or water, it's your responsibility to open the emergency exit door and dispose of it outside of the aircraft.

However, she does not explain what you are supposed to do next. Get the hell out first or assist the other passengers to exit before you do. It suddenly hits...you had to pay the airline extra $ for this act of bravey. (see mission/objective statement above).

Having fun yet?

There are about 200 souls stuffed into this metal tube, referred to by the airline as Air Canada Rouge flight #1680 from Victoria to Toronto.

Our derriere's are squeezed into ($26.50 X2), seats 22A & B. As I record this experience my computer rests on the lowered tray table wedged between the seat in front and my stomach.

The seat in front of me has just reclined pushing the tray table further into my belly button.

Newton's third law kicks into gear, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".

The lady's action to suddenly recline her seat, triggers an immediate but polite verbal reaction which causes the couple seated in 21A & B to exchange unkind words with the couple seated in 22A & B.

She eventually relents, the tension dissapates, with approving smiles from nearby passengers.

My protruding right elbow is hit twice by metal food and drink carts quickly rolling down the aisle. The busy flight attendants push on, without noticing, as I grimace in pain.

The captain announces we are about to experience turbulence and orders the crew to discontinue service and remain strapped into their seats...that was service?

An hour later the seat belt sign is turned off, creating a stampede (sorry) long line facing the two washrooms. Incoming (stressed) and outgoing (relieved) passengers receive unwanted body rubs as they squeeze by each other in the tiny aisles.

A lady exiting the washroom sarcastically asks the flight attendant trapped/wedged into the rear of the plane "what's next for Rouge, credit card slots on the washroom doors?"

Picking up on her offering I contritube to anyone listening, "If Air Canada could add pot to their overpriced a-la-cart menu, beginning October 17th, flying Rouge might at least make the passengers feel "pleasurable", just like in the old days." Modest applause followed.

A Rouge experience is reminiscent of the memorable Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster TV skit.

Frank was sitting in first class. John in economy.

The curtain separating the "classes" was slightly parted open allowing Johnny to observe what was going on in first class.

The orchestra was playing soothing music, attractive flight attendants were serving champagne and caviar while taking dinner requests for a meal recommended by Julia Child.

Meanwhile, Johnny was wedged between two Sumo wrestlers in a tiny seat, being served an unrecognizable concoction being ladled from a large metal pot by a rotund, sweating Babushka who had escaped from a Russian Gulag.

The captain announces, "Economy class passengers proceed to the rear of the aircraft and exit now from the rear door".

Thirty minutes passes, the captain announces, "First Class passengers may disembark through the front door of the aircraft...as soon as we land".

If you're old enough, like me, you pine for the good old days flying the friendly skies on Max Ward's wonderfully pleasurable airline.

Ron Devion, No Guts, No Glory 

 

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