Yin and Yang

Travel is but one of the massive benefits of QBO training. In my travels there occur, at times, thought-provoking, touching or just downright amusing events. I thought I’d document some such events in a series I’ll call “One for the Road.

Sometimes things just work out

I’m at the MacDonald Cartier airport, sitting at Gate 14 waiting for AC475 to Pearson. I hear, oh-so-faintly, the voice of an Air Canada employee announce that boarding is about to begin. He asks all Zone 1 passengers to present themselves. No one gets up. He then barrels through more boarding zones–2, 3, 4–and I begin to chuckle because still no one gets in line.

My first thought is imponderable, “Why can we barely hear these announcements? Someone forget to pay the electrics bill?” My second, even more so, “Is it possible there are no passengers in any of the announced zones? Is everyone on this flight a cheapo Zone 5 traveller like me?” I dismiss both possibilities. And then I think a happier thought, “Am I, perhaps, about to board–oh joy of joys–a near-empty plane?” A less than capacity flight, as we all know, is the holy grail of flying. A whole row of seats. All of them vacant. Empty space in the overhead bins. No one crowding the aisles because there are no bathroom line-ups. The benefits are endless.

I sit and wait a bit longer and I then make out, over the anemic PA system, what sounds like AC475 (Hey! That’s my flight!) and I also hear something about Gate 15. Gate 15? Did they just say Gate 15? Here I am with forty or so passengers sitting at Gate 14, which, as illustrated by departure monitors scattered throughout the airport, is the supposedly correct gate. And yet no one’s moving. Are we at the wrong gate? I look around. Everyone seems content to wait it out.

Ever the sleuth, I decide to investigate. Strolling over to Gate 14, I glance up at the departures monitor again and see that the Gate 15 flight is departing for Frankfurt. I also see that the plane at Gate 15 is on the large size. And big planes are unheard of on these YOW-YYZ legs. Hmm. Curious.

So I walk up to Gate 15 and I’m about to ask a ticket agent whether this is indeed the Pearson flight. But I’m beaten to it by a young lady, behind me, who shouts out that very question. I turn around, laugh, and say, “I was about to ask the very same thing!” She then goes on to describe how she’s all about inclusion and fairness, and she proceeds to explain to the unwitting ticket agent that there are a bunch of even-more unwitting passengers sitting at Gate 14. The ticket agent shrugs and then picks up a phone.

I shrug too, and think, “OK lady, looks like you’ve got a handle on things, you stay inclusive and I’ll go ahead and board.”

And I find myself on a nice, and nearly empty, Boeing 767. Fist bump baby! What a pleasure this plane is, such a difference from the little tin cans that AC usually flies on these routes. I find my spot–19F–an aisle seat not far from the forward cabin, and I make myself comfortable. Mere moments later a flight attendant approaches to say there are premium seat available further up and I’m welcome to one. Fist bump times two! So I say, “Sure I’ll grab one of those seats!” The attendant then asks my seatmate whether she’d like to move up as well. I get up, fetch my suitcase from the overhead bin, scurry to the front and when I arrive, I find that my now ex-seatmate is much quicker on the draw. She got there ahead of me, plucking the choice seat–tons of legroom and a window too–that, except for my dawdling, might have been mine. So, instead I settle into what turns out to be a near-identical seat to the one I just vacated, aisle middle row, with maybe six inches of additional leg room. I sit down. I glance over at my ex-seatmate settled so comfortably in that cushy window seat with all that leg room, and I let out a long sigh. She’s oblivious though. She’s hit pay dirt and, she’s quite rightly, enjoying her new digs. To be honest, I can’t say I blame her. Then I settle back and think, it’s the yin and the yang. Sure, it’s easy to get into a kerfuffle over seat allocations or boarding gate mixups. Get stressed out and accusatory. Dress down some poor ticket agents or flight attendants for screwups not of their doing. But life’s too short for perceived slights. And hey, things balance out, right? I’m on a nice plane, quiet and comfortable, it’s almost empty and I got a seat upgrade. Yeah, sometimes the yin is soon followed by the yang.

And things just work out. Quite nicely too, don’t they?