We are all equal

Air travel makes travellers sick. If my personal health were used in support of this thesis, it would be irrefutably proven.
I can’t remember a flight I have taken where I didn’t get sick and my recent all-night marathon from Dawson City was no exception. I was struck down with fever, coughing, a nose like Niagara Falls, sneezing with great frequency, and every joint in my body seemed to be providing further evidence with pained conviction.
My response: I will never fly again.
I know that is not a realistic statement to make in a country that stretches 9,306 km from east to west and 4,634 km from extreme north reaches to the south. But I am discouraged by this recent onslaught of severe malaise.
I stopped off to visit Daughter #2 to offer some assistance before I head to Nova Scotia, my final destination. But my help has been reduced to mostly lying in bed and at the very best a dishwasher and rocking my new grandson to sleep.
I had far greater images of helping.
I flew from Dawson City to Whitehorse on a Hawker Siddeley 748, and then from Whitehorse to Vancouver aboard a glorified sardine can where most people onboard were coughing, hacking, sniffing, and blowing.
I knew I was sunk.
Four hours in Vancouver with a delicious visit with Daughter #1 and then I climbed aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Air Canada calls it, with a seating configuration of nine seats across in groups of three.
It was my first flight aboard a 787 and it was a reasonably comfortable one, I suppose, in economy where I was sitting, at the bulkhead just behind Premium Economy.
The flight attendants draw the curtains as if some secret business is taking place for the privileged; too private for the general public to witness or scrutinize.
Ahead of Premium Economy is International Business Class, each passenger with its own little pod, with computer and table and fully reclining seats, with fluffy duvets to add to the comfort and seats with a massaging headrest–just what we all need if we happen to have the cash to shell out for such a privilege.
When we boarded in Vancouver, we were directed like lemmings through the long gate ramp and entered ahead of Premium Economy and behind International Business class.
We strolled through the Premium Economy on our way to the cattle car but on exit in Toronto, we were allowed the privilege of exiting through International Business Class so we could drool and be filled with envy for our next long-distance flight.
“See, this is what you could have if you work hard enough,” Air Canada says to us on departure.
I don’t usually fly Air Canada. I find their service impersonal, the demeanour of their staff anything but welcoming, with an attitude as if they are doing me a favour by letting me onboard.
I know this is a generalization, and others will have a much different history with the airline, but the evidence was enough for me to decide no thanks. This trip was courtesy of Writers Trust of Canada, so I was grateful to fly however they chose to get me to and from the Yukon.
For someone who doesn’t like to travel, I seem to do a fair bit of it back and forth across this country. I’m never envious of those who can shell out the big bucks to travel in greater comfort but I like that WestJet doesn’t think of its passengers in multiple classes.
We’re all just travellers, trying to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ as quickly as possible and without too much discomfort.
I like the egalitarian view of the world, that we are all equal–even when we are flying and getting sick.
wendistewart@live.ca

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