I lived the sequel to Planes, Trains and Automobiles today. Incidentally, PT&A is one of my favorite movies, but not something I want to try to experience in real life. I had no choice today though. I woke up at 7 so I could catch my 8:45 flight to Hamilton and get a good start on a pretty full day of stuff at home. I had to wait for Tan to drive me to the airport though, since he was also flying today. The problem is that his flight was 15 minutes later than mine, and we didn’t leave enough time to get to the airport. By the time I got there at 8:15, my flight was closed. The woman at the counter tried twice to convince the crew at the gate to reopen the flight so I could get on–it wouldn’t have been that big a deal since walking through the Montreal airport takes about five minutes–but to no avail. They just didn’t want to do it. The next flight to Hamilton was at 4pm, and that was too late for me. I decided to abandon that ticket. The counter woman suggested that I go to the ticketing counter and purchase a ticket to Toronto instead. I wasn’t going to give Air Canada any more of my money though, so I investigated my other options. Westjet had a flight going into Pearson International in Toronto. They don’t have any flights going to Hamilton from Montreal, even though they use the Hamilton airport to fly to other places. Boo. Porter Airlines is a new airline, and they use the Toronto Island airport. I decided to try them because they could take me downtown. It seemed pretty convenient. I shelled out my $260 for the ticket and was on my way by 10:35.
Flying Porter was a great experience. I can’t say enough about the friendliness of the staff. When I got on the Bombardier Q400 turboprop, the stewardess took my coat and hung it up for me.Â The plane’s cabin was spacious, modern and comfortable. They designed it to be airy and bright, so you didn’t feel the sense of claustrophobia that you can get on traditional airliners. They were playing cheerful swing jazz music quietly before takeoff. In flight service was excellent. They served drinks in real glass glasses, and healthy snacks. Touchdown on the Island airport was 10 minutes ahead of schedule. There was a free ferry to cross the 120m gap between Toronto Island and the shore.
I know that the owners of Porter Airlines have been lobbying for ages to get a bridge built to span this gap. There were all kinds of objections based on the environmental impact of this bridge, but that seems ridiculous to me. Toronto long ago ruined its waterfront with stacks upon stacks of concrete and condos. There’s nothing left to protect. A 120m road would have an unnoticible impact except to Air Canada who would undoubtedly lose a lot of the business commuter traffic to airlines that use this very convenient downtown airport.
After crossing the “channel,” I got on the shuttle bus (you can see it in the picture above) and rode that to Union Station. I had to get to an appointment in Oakville by 1:00 and the GO Train seemed like the best way to do it. I rode the train to Oakville, then took a cab to my customer’s place. After my work there was done, one of the staff drove me back to the train station. I bought another ticket and rode the train to Burlington, then hopped on a bus to Hamilton’s GO station. Fortunately, I was able to reach Dad on my cell phone (the battery was on the verge of death, so I was lucky to have been able to make that call… otherwise I might have a payphone-induced illness by now). Dad picked me up at the GO station and drove me to my car at the Hamilton airport. Finally, I was able to drive home, and got there by about 6:00.
So, the moral of the story is, always use web check-in for your Air Canada flights because then you can show up 15 minutes before your flight leaves and you’ll get on board.Â The secondary moral is to get some vitamin B complex capsules.
Apparently they’re good as an anti-stress agent. I have no idea how it works, but it seems to work very well for me. Today, I knew I was in a frustrating situation that was costing me a lot of money, and possibly clients, but it just sort of rolled over me, and I rolled with it. I never really felt upset, and I was a bit surprised by that. I just smiled at all the rude GO Transit ticketing agents. I said, “No problem,” to the cabbie who took the long way to my client’s place by mistake. Even when I was getting a continuous stream of phone messages from colleagues telling me to call my client in Montreal about some minor issue he was having, I just shrugged it off. I couldn’t do anything because my cell phone was out of juice and kept turning itself off. All I was thinking about was, “Ok, now what’s the next step in this trip?” So yeah, if you feel like you get yourself into some stressful situations, do yourself a favor and buy some of these B50 pills. Also, wake up 15 minutes earlier.