I have this love-hate relationships with airports. On one hand, being at the airport means you are going somewhere. Hopefully, somewhere exciting. Today, I’m heading out to Calgary, AB, and then Vancouver, BC – hence, AB+BC code name.
On the other hand, the pain in the butt line-ups (for some unlucky ones – literally), the humiliating experience of security, having to have your bags checked, taking your shoes off always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I like Pearson (Toronto’s airport) quite a bit, although my favourite airport is Amsterdam’s Schiphol. I love that place. The friendly spirit of the Dutch is in the air (take that as you will), and a 30min train ride will land you straight downtown.
This trip’s first flight: Toronto to Calgary. A tall, round attendant with glasses and curly hair announces that there has been a change of plans, and that we are going to Maui instead. As couple of people look up in surprise, I realize this is the very first time I’ve ever witnessed a flight attendant express any sense of humour. That’s new.
She introduces the crew. “On my right hand side, you will see the Marvelous, the Magical Moreen”, she says with a completely straight face. “I am Magnificent Mary, and I will be your MC today”.
Safety instructions are next. I find myself actually paying attention. “In case of emergency, look up – and Magical Moreen’s phone number will fall out. Yes, guys, she is single, and likes long walks on the beach.”
“And now I will ask you to place your seats in the most uncomfortable position, as we attempt to deliver you a flight experience that will meet and exceed your expectations. And if it won’t, we suggest that you lower your expectations.”
It’s almost time for take-off. Every time I look out of the small round window on to the pavement below, I know that the next time I will see this airport I will be a different person. That’s what travel does. It changes you. New places, new experiences, new friends. Some small changes, some big changes. But without fail. Every. Single. Time.
Each time you travel, you have to face some difficult questions: Where am I going? What is my destination? Why? Where is home? Who am I?
“I remind you that this is a non-smoking flight”, chirps Magnificent Mary, “if you would still like to smoke, we kindly ask that you step outside”. I like her.
The engine revs up, and the plane jumps forward. It’s that unmistakable sign that you are, indeed, leaving. I’m gently pressed into my seat by the force of acceleration. As the picturesque scenery of the pavement, parking lots and industrial hangars zooms by faster and faster, I hold my breath, trying to catch the exact moment when the nose of the aircraft points upward, and all the wheels lose contact with the earth. As this big beautiful hunk of metal cuts across space, and floats effortlessly, defying gravity, I let out a sigh. I’m in awe. Every. Single. Time. We are flying. We are actually flying!
Few productive hours later the wheels touch the ground in snowy Calgary.
“If you are a smoker”, announces Magnificent Mary, “you have now gone without smoking for four hours. So we suggest that you just go ahead and quit.” She then proceeds to remind us not to forget any of our belonging, unless we “don’t mind the flight attendants selling those belonging on eBay for some extra cash”. I’m almost tempted to leave something behind.
YOUR TURN: How do you feel about airports? Love’em? Hate’em? Do you have a favourite airport?