TIM’S BIT: Air Canada isn’t all it’s ‘cracked’ up to be

Tim’s Bit: Tirades on our stupidest things. . . is a new web-exclusive column featuring Tim Mottishaw’s comedic tirades on some of our humanity’s dumbest problems, with regards to culture, society and politics. Read more Tim’s Bit here!


 

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’m one of the lucky people who has had the fortune of being able to travel. I love it. I even enjoy flying. Turbulence is not the best experience, but it’s like getting a flu shot — sometimes you just have to accept it.

There are a few inevitabilities that someone who travels in the air often accepts. We know it’s not cheaper to travel the sooner you depart. We’re ready for the baby who cries on every flight. We understand that if you are tall, like myself, you will be cramped or unable to stretch. Standing on a plane becomes a mini blessing.

We understand that an airline has to maximize the amount of customers and space on an aircraft in order to cover its cost and turn a profit for shareholders. Many of us become loyal to a brand, as we do in our consumer culture, and will pay a little extra because we know the quality of service is worth it, despite the silliness like paying for luggage. For me, that brand has been Air Canada, especially when I fly to and from Australia.

Tonight, however, about 6000 kilometres into my trip, the airline that I have recommended for the last ten years when flying to Australia, the airline that I have promoted even though it is not the cheapest option, the airline that has just retrofitted the craft I’m on, may just have lost my loyalty.

I sit in seat 28H on a Boeing 777-200RL. I’m on the aisle and despite having a wall behind me, I can still lean my seat back. I even have a USB and electrical plug in. Oh yeah, I’m also sitting right next to the busiest bathroom on the damn plane. No, not like a Greyhound bus’s backseat, where the door at least opens into the aisle. I’m sitting next to the bathroom — as in the door opens facing me.

For the last eight hours I have heard all the bowel movements and airsickness of my fellow passengers in the economy class.

For the last eight hours I have heard all the bowel movements and airsickness of my fellow passengers who are in rows F to K of the economy class. Just when I think it can’t get any better, it does. Like most humans, I breathe through my nose, and my nose does that crazy nose thing: it smells. If you think hearing rows F to K is bad, you should smell them. The gasses and normal bodily functions of a couple people I can handle — I had brothers. But that many gasses concentrated into one area? Mixed with the sickly sweet smell of the toilet cleaner disinfectant fluid? Wow. I have eight hours to go.

I’m pissed. I can’t smell or hear anything but ‘gross,’ I can’t sleep because the door doesn’t close on its own all the time, and the light is always on. Not to mention the constant queue of everyone waiting to use the loo, bumping me as the pass by. I have never been so offended with a seat in an aircraft.

Row 28 is is made up of only my seat and the two directly next to me. The opposite side of the plane is another bathroom, with seats offset so as to avoid my particular problem. Why would you retrofit a plane to create this situation? The only explanation I can think of is that I, and the other two passengers of row 28, are purely extra profit. This plane is full. There is not a single empty seat (I know because I asked). There is no way you can tell me that the difference between 297 and 300 seats makes or breaks the profitability of a flight. Losing a loyal customer with a big mouth? That definitely can.

This seat, this play for profit, this obscene margin-squeeze in some exec’s ledger, has turned me off flying with Air Canada. From now on, I will think twice about suggesting this airline to anyone. I had to work very hard to pay the equivalent of three months rent to fly to Australia on student exchange, not to sit next to the open door of an outhouse.

Air Canada, I expected more of you; I shouldn’t have to pick between window, aisle, and the throne.