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Air Canada gripe


I love to travel. I love being in the middle of an exotic land, soaking up the amazing cultures that this planet boasts. In fact, very little else makes me happier. In particular, I love Europe. I love everything about it - the history, the architecture, the food, the wine, the fashion, the people.

I love to travel.

I love being in the middle of an exotic land, soaking up the amazing cultures that this planet boasts.

In fact, very little else makes me happier.

In particular, I love Europe. I love everything about it - the history, the architecture, the food, the wine, the fashion, the people.

But I hate the process of getting there.

Being from Newfoundland, the most easterly part of North America and thus the closest to my favourite continent on the planet, one would reasonably think that popping over the Atlantic to enjoy a European holiday would not be so difficult.

Let me assure you, it is.

I recently travelled to Galway, Ireland (one of the most westerly parts of Europe and hence one of the closest points to Newfoundland) on Air Canada to celebrate New Year's in fine fashion with some of my closest friends in the world.

Well, let me rephrase that. I recently travelled as far as London, England (Heathrow airport) with Air Canada en route to Galway, Ireland. I had to stop in Heathrow, deplane, go through customs, collect my baggage, change terminals (which in Heathrow means walking about 100 kilometres laden with baggage), check in with a different airline, repack my luggage after discovering that in Heathrow you're only permitted one carry-on bag (including purses, laptops, cameras, etc.), then make my way to the gate to catch my Aer Lingus flight to Ireland because Air Canada discontinues its flight to Ireland during the low tourist season.

However, my gripe is not with fact that the Ireland flight is discontinued during low season (it was a bit annoying, but many airlines do this), but rather with the fact that it took me 25 hours of travelling in order to reach my destination, which would be cut down to perhaps nine or 10 hours if the direct flight between Heathrow and St. John's still existed. (This is given that I would have to fly from Shannon Airport in Ireland to Heathrow and then connect from St. John's to Gander. The flight between Heathrow and St. John's actually only takes about five hours.)

My flight route to get to Shannon in Ireland went like this: Gander-Halifax, Halifax-Montreal, Montreal-London, London-Shannon.

I have to say that there is nothing more pleasurable as a traveller than having to fly halfway across Canada, only to turn around and fly right back over the piece of land that you had just flown over in order to get to your destination (dripping with sarcasm).

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not opposed to long hours of travel when they get me to a destination that is very far away. If say I was flying to Australia or Thailand or South Africa, then bring on the 25-hour flight.

And God knows I've done enough long-haul flights in the past, but they have always been moving me forward rather than have me backtrack, then retrace my steps before getting on with the moving forward bit.

So I am jumping on the bandwagon of St. John's Mayor Andy Wells in his fight for the reinstatement of Air Canada's transatlantic flight to London, and of CBS Mayor Fraser Marsh, who is garnering support for a travellers' bill of rights, if for nothing else than my own selfish desire to get to my beloved continent quicker.

We deserve more in Newfoundland and Labrador than being shuttled halfway back across the country like cattle before we can start travelling to our European destination, as just one example of the poor service Air Canada provides the people of this province.

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