Every man has his price, and apparently mine is somewhere around three hundred dollars. Flying to England is not a cheap endeavor during the holiday season, so when I had the opportunity to catch the cheapest ticket on the market I pounced on it like a cheetah would a wounded impala. There was however a tiny catch. The flight that I booked was and possibly is the longest most indirect flight to London, England that you can purchase through any one airline. The itinerary went as follows, Toronto to Boston, Boston to Reykavic, then finally to London. The entire travel time was supposed to be close to twenty hours, and I’m fairly certain if you flew direct without layovers you could fly the opposite way around the planet and beat me to London. Now this story on it’s own should have been entertaining enough, but things have gone catastrophically and hilariously wrong. Usually I have a fairly accurate barometer for when I am entering a shit storm but even this one caught me by surprise. Despite my recent residence being taken up in Iceland I will start my norse saga from the beginning.
It was early december 18th and I had arrived at Pearson airport to begin my trip and attempt my survival of the single most ridiculous travel itinerary ever organized. At the time I joked that I was taking the scenic route, and was even slightly entertained at the prospect of spending a few hours in Iceland so as to scratch it off my list.
Before any of this unfortunately I still had to deal with the messiness of checking in. I had a lot of stuff. In terms of amount of goods to be flying with it was an outrageous quantity, but when I thought about it as everything that I own it was sort of embarrassing that my life’s physical footprint could be packed into two bags and a box containing my bicycle. My team was there to help me deal with this burden, father, sister and brother in law.
I made my way with my mountain of luggage to check in and I wasn’t so naive that I thought they were not gonna make me pay the price for packing my life’s achievements into luggage. At check in the price began as a hundred dollars, which seemed reasonable. Unfortunately if ever anything seems fair while attempting to fly it is likely just the airport gods taunting you before they crush you like a king would a peasant.
What started out as a hundred dollars became a two hundred and fifty, then two hundred and twenty five, then two hundred and seventy. The price just kept creeping, and what began as reasonable did not finish so. The fee I was now being billed was approaching a rate where it would be cheaper to buy my luggage it’s own seat. The flight had not started and my bike was already a burden. This foreshadowed a lot of suffering and irony to come. With this crippling fee I was being crushed under the airport gavel. The lady working check was my judge, jury and executioner all while smiling. I wasn’t angry, but I wasn’t happy. It was a minor consolation to know that my bags would meet me in London and would not have to be rechecked, this is also foreshadowed of the impending doom. The check in woman also commented on my circuitous flight path asking, “Where are you trying to go?” as if I might die along the way. I laughed because I was still so proud of my deal, but I had no idea how close to being right she would be. At the time though I was on my way to England to be with my lady so I shrugged off this minor setback.
The rest of my check in proceeded at the usual airport pace that everyone has become a custom to since fear has been quantified into colours and terror alerts. That’s not to say that security line ups can’t be entertaining fortunately. My personal trick is to not watch what people do as a whole but the tiny intricate and deliberate behaviours they embark on. The favorite of the day was after getting into the flight crew security check by accident. There I watched a pilot dissect a long gangley hair off the tray where you put your life to be x-rayed. He handled the hair in question with the care of a bomb technician, and at one point I actually thought he was going to pull out tweezers and rubber gloves. In his defense aside from hospitals and a mcdonald’s play place there is nowhere on the planet that you are more likely to get sick at. I commented on the dexterity of his manoeuvre, “Nice work,” and as if he had just found the cure for cancer he responded proudly, “You get use to it.”
Having successfully navigated through security I sat and waited for my flight to Boston at a gate that looked and felt more like a juvenile detention centre. There I was, still basking in the glow of cheap ticket in spite of my ridiculous luggage charge that I would have received no matter when I flew. My thrifty ticket was in fact the stitches that was closing the growing wound in my wallet. If you were to divide my ticket price by the time I would spend in flight and airports, I would venture to say that there was probably not a cheaper intercontinental flight in the northern hemisphere. I’m a player not a payer, so at the time this was a great source of satisfaction for me. Deals aside, what could be better than some really quality ‘me time.’
Again while waiting humanity once more put on a show to entertain me. To be honest I don’t even know why I bring books to airports anymore when the airport itself is just one big stage for a tragic comedy. At the desk the Air Canada employee announced that a flight would be delayed to Memphis and that meal vouchers would be offered. Gentlemen approaches the desk and says, “I’ll take a meal voucher,” with a big dumb smirk on his face. The employee asked if he was on the flight and he laughed saying, “Well know but I’ll take one.” The employee did not so much as smile or even flinch, stupid customers dignity was crushed by employees cold disregard at attempted humour. I now thoroughly like Air Canada employee, plus I failed to mention that she lent me a pen earlier. For whatever reason in the 21st Century everyone thinks they are hilarious and that customer service is there to act as the testing ground for their stand up routine. This is an unsettling trend and I appreciate her stand against it.
With stupidity now brushed aside my flight boarded, and then I realized this was my first airborne experience since my ill fated stunt flight in a cesna. This would be the least of my worries.
See part two later today.