The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Brunswick - I hate planes

I went to New Brunswick for a couple weeks. It was great, because I did next to nothing. Ate a lot of good food (thanks to the culinary ability of other people!), watched a lot of TV, did a tiny bit of studying, laid on the couch. It was extremely relaxing. I'm so relaxed right now that I don't know how I'm ever going to go back to work.

Anyway, it was a nice visit. Also, I found out that my cousin in Texas had her baby, which was great news that has everyone quite excited. We're all looking forward to seeing some baby photos soon.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and I had to leave Moncton yesterday. But it seems that my bad luck when it comes to planes hadn't quite run its course*. Just after takeoff, I noticed that the plane wasn't gaining any altitude. The plane seemed to be banking around over the city in some kind of holding pattern. I remember thinking to myself, "This doesn't seem right..." Pretty soon the captain came on and announced that there was a problem with the instruments and we were going to have to go back. We wheeled around again, and came in for a landing. Because we were in a small, regional jet, we were being buffeted quite a lot by the winds, and the plane was bouncing and yawing around. I was sweating and feeling quite nervous, to be honest. We got closer and closer to the runway, when suddenly we powered up and started taking off again. If you've never experienced this, I have to tell you that it's fairly nerve-wracking. We gained some altitude, came around in a big circle, and (much to my relief) finally landed.

We then sat on the tarmac for another 45 minutes or so while technicians tried to fix the problem, and refuel the airplane. What with all of our messing around, we no longer had enough fuel to get to Montreal. We finally got off the ground over an hour late, so I knew I had missed my connection.

In Montreal, I tried to contact my sister-in-law, who was waiting for me in Toronto, but it was basically futile. I think that airlines need to have some way of notifying relatives of whether or not individuals got on a certain flight or not. The system is entirely computerized, so I'm sure it's feasible ... and people could select, at the time that they book their flight or something, whether or not they want that information made public.

Anyway, I finally got into Toronto about 3 hours late. My sister-in-law had been patiently waiting, with 5 kids (!) for me all afternoon, not knowing when I was going to show up. As you might expect (because, really, aren't airline people notoriously unhelpful?) she didn't get a lot of information from the staff at the airport until she had asked and asked and been directed to several different places.

And they say that air travel is just going to get worse. With rising fuel costs, airlines are cutting back on flights, so the remaining flights are going to be more congested AND more expensive. Service will likely decline; customers' tempers will get shorter, and there will be more conflict in the airports. The whole experience is going to become more unpleasant.

I also learned from a friend that Air Canada is no longer going to have any direct flights from Toronto to Tokyo after this fall. Let's hope I'm not doing much travelling after this year.

*Let's hope it has now, since I'm flying to Tokyo in 2 weeks!


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