Monday, May 21, 2007



If I wanted my holiday to end in ruins, they'd look like this:

Just returned from splendid family doin's, as we graduated the last of

-- four generations represented, lots of
pomp and circumstance, toasting and blubbering, ooh-ing and coo-ing, and all the good stuff. Enough good fun to make some among us forget that their flights had been delayed by hours-- but heck, that was all about thunderstorms.

However, it's tough to come away from such good times, to board the little plane familiar from so many trips...

[no, I'm not kidding -- this is it -- the Beechcraft 1900] ...
and have it all come apart. [the travel experience, not the plane -- this time]

The Little Beechcraft Engine That Probably Could holds 19 people. I have never yet been on one filled to capacity-- until today.

The reader will recall that the last u
nhappy adventure on this same route involved the same plane carrying 6 [SIX] passengers and 6 [SIX] pieces of luggage, of which one [mine] failed to appear. It was eventually reclaimed after much misery about two weeks later.

Today, as noted, the plane was filled. The perky blonde pilot (it's too small for an attendant) approached those sitting at the emergency
exits to 'splain how they work. A dignified white-haired gentleman with a thick French accent was clearly distracted and not listening-- he pointed out the window opposite him and said, "The luggage." The perky pilot didn't click to the message right away, so the gentleman 'splained it to her: he had seen his luggage on a motorized cart being driven away from the plane.

Miss Perky 'splained, getting less perky and more condescending-- you see, when there is a large amount of luggage the plane can't carry all the weight so some of the luggage has to be "bumped."

The explanation is so absurd that it takes a minute or so to grasp what this woman is saying in Anglais: when the plane is carrying 19 passengers, it is unable to carry the 38 pieces of luggage those passengers are legally permitted to check. This is secret knowledge which rarely comes to light because under normal circumstances (a) this plane is never full, and (b) this route caters to business commuters who never bring much checked baggage.

This is secret knowledge to which many people are privy, with the glaring exception of the passengers who have never been informed that their legally permitted luggage isn't actually permitted on this plane.

What ensued was an absurd conversation between Pesky Pilot and gentleman as to what h
is options were: he could sigh and accept that his luggage was sitting out on the tarmac and would (hopefully) follow him later on the next flight; he could deplane, retrieve the luggage, and take his lumps as to arranging for a later flight. "Is there another flight after this?" He asked. "I don't know-- I'm just the pilot, I don't have any information about the schedule."

That, my friends, was a cool-headed, bald-faced LIE. Pilots assigned to the PVD-YYZ-Beechcraft-run just fly back and forth on that one-leg route all day long. They know exactly when it flies. They may not know if seats are available, or if it will be cancelled due to low reservation numbers. But they know the daily schedule like their own names.

She continued to claim ignorance of anything relevant, and told the increasingly impatient as
sembled passengers that we couldn't get moving until the gentleman had heard all she had to say about deploying the emergency exit door.

Finally the passenger in question accepted his fate, and agreed to proceed to his weekend convention without any of his belongings. Turns out he was one of several on the plane going to the American Society for Microbiology's 107th Annual General Meeting at the Metro Convention Centre. I suspect they will not be returning for another 107 years.

So we departed PVD with about half a baggage-cart of luggage sitting on the ground. We arrived at YYZ and watched as three full baggage-carts of luggage were removed from our little planette (we sat and watched while we waited 10 minutes for the gate agent to arrive, so she could assist us with deplaning-- presumably by standing outside and pointing to the door-- check out the plane again, above, and try to figure out what else a gate agent might possibly be needed for).

We took the inexplicably long bus-ride to the terminal, passed through Customs fairly quickly, and arrived at the baggage carousel just in time for the buzzer-signal that our bags were about to emerge. The conveyor belt spat out about 6 or 8 bags. That was it. No more. No soup for you.

The majority of th
e 19 passengers stumbled in disbelief toward the lost luggage desk, manned, as usual, by only two or three harried people. Forms, descriptions, promises, all played out in the ritualistic dance and dialogue of
the deaf. We plan to return to the airport this evening, get our permission slip from Lost and Found, and wait to be escorted, two-by-two, into the sacred spinning precincts of the baggage carousels, and try to reclaim what is rightfully ours: 6 [SIX] checked bags, belonging to three of us, some of which we know were left behind and others of which may just have gone AWOL between the plane and the terminal.

We will face down the typically clueless, helpless, graceless, defensive, rude, and ethically-chall
enged Air Canada employees who go through the motions of carrying out the business of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority-- neither institution capable of grasping the basic organizing principle behind a police lineup or a Rockettes kick-line.

This blog
stands behind its previous pronouncement on this issue:

If the only way to get to Heaven was on Air Canada, I wouldn't go.

When my mood improves, I will wax eloquent on the emotional passage when the last fledgling leaves the nest, and on the the unfathomable cuteness of the Grandchild. They deserve a better frame of mind than this.