As I recall mentioning in your paper last week, I was recently caught up in the swirling vortex of air travel where the motto for the major airlines is “We’re Not Happy Until You’re Not Happy”!
I had managed to get through the outrageously unpredictable skyrocketing air fare nonsense and decided to go with one of those relatively new “budget”, “low cost”, “seat of your pants” airlines. This particular one is called “Stoop” — no, sorry: it’s “Swoop”, and I stooped to Swoop, as it were.
Forty-nine dollars to the Coast, extra fees for luggage, seats and other ‘extras’ like, I’m assuming here — air, windows, engines, etc.
The little ying dudette that sits on my left shoulder said, “Why not?” and the little yang dude on my right shoulder said, “Are you flippin’ crazy?”
As usual, I based my decision on whether my Visa card would go through, and after several minutes of grinding and moaning my computer finally coughed up an “Approved” notice for the 49 beans.
A really good sign I thought, and then a booking confirmation email arrived from the airline which asked me if I wanted to view my boarding pass for a small fee.
I think they were kidding.
At this point I was considering phoning the airline, you know, just to talk to an actual human to make sure that I actually had an actual ticket.
And to find out if I needed to bring my own lawn chair, and whether the passengers are expected to help push the plane to get it started.
I was also going to ask whether I should bring my old hockey helmet in case of turbulence and stuff. (Nowhere on the website did the airline mention “seatbelts”.)
But when I read the really really small print below the small print I noticed that Swoop charges $15 per phone call to any human so I decided to “wing it” (airline joke).
I arrive at the airport and finally find the Swoop Check in desk waaaaayyy at the faaaarrr end of the airport where the janitor storage room used to be.
I’m relieved to see one person who looks just like what we used to call a “Stewardess” easily identified on account of she has a Swoop-colored scarf on (pink), and I look out the window and see a more or less normal looking airplane with “Swoop” painted on it (also pink). (The logo, not the plane.)
No other pink people are around so I’m assuming the Swoopee with the scarf also loads the luggage, and probably flies the plane.
“What do you expect for 49 bucks?” my gremlin whispered in my right ear.
“You’re screwed,” said the other one in my other ear.
I shake it off and slowly board with a teeming crowd of other sweaty cheapskate passengers, shuffling into the metal flying tube like lemmings over a cliff.
I was glad to see there were actual seats in there — but, boy, were there seats! A lot of seats. And all of them clearly designed to accommodate passengers no bigger than underweight eight year olds.
The cramped cylinder was packed to the brim with contorted adults sitting on the lap of their neighbours with their knees up around their ears and their noses squashed into the seat in front of them.
Mercifully, it was a short flight and we took off and landed more or less safely and the raging claustrophobia wasn’t completely fatal.
Next time, I thought as I slumped off Swoop, I’ll spend as much time as possible in the roomy airplane bathroom.
Until they start charging to go to the can. I won’t take that sitting down.
Harley Hay is a Red Deer writer and filmmaker.