Notes from another visit to Toronto...
Does any job suck worse than being a flight attendant these days? OK, probably a lot of jobs do. But you have to sympathize with these people--is their current job description really what they signed up for?
Before we get started on that, a word about ticket pricing. I flew round-trip between Toronto and San Francisco. When I researched ticket prices, I found that a non-stop flight was going to run about $1,300. OK, so let's look at a "direct" flight, i.e., one or more stops. So SFO to YYZ via ORD for those who travel enough (sigh) to know what those initials mean. That routing would cost about $900 on United. The same routing, on Air Canada, cost a little less than $600. So let's do that (we're a startup, so watching your expenses is a way of life).
But here's the amazing part: it's an Air Canada flight, operated by United! In other words, if I fly the United flight as a United flight, I pay $900. If I fly it as an Air Canada flight, I save $300. Don't ask me to explain it, I discovered all this because I wanted to know what terminal (domestic or international) to show up at for the flight. (Turned out it was the United domestic terminal, but wait now you have to go to the International terminal... but that's another story.)
And one other peeve: the return flight is described as a non-stop flight, "flight 1105, YYZ to SFO"... but fails to mention the flight stops at ORD. OK, so it's technically one flight because we continue on to SFO, right? Well, no. You change planes and get on a different flight. So isn't that a two-flight itinerary? Never mind!
Back to my story. As we landed in Chicago on the way to Toronto, the flight attendant came on the intercom and asked that we passengers open up the air circulation vents and close the window shades, so the plane would burn less fuel getting the cabin cool again. I'm all for doing every little bit to help keep the Earth green and cut our collective fuel consumption, but can this have any material effect?
And think about what else flight attendants have to do now. They get to act like hawkers at a baseball game, pitching the now-accepted snack boxes that (Europeans are horrified to realize) you have to pay to get. Can you imagine if they sold all the stuff that you find at a ball game? Frozen lemonade, peanuts, foam fingers (they'd love that one), peanuts.. Actually, it could make the flights a lot more fun. Then they get to act as baggage inspectors and porters: "Hey you, you've got too many carry-on's!" (No kidding, I watched a guy get on with a duffel bag, a large satchel and a computer case as his allowed carry-on items). You think flight attendants want to hassle people about what they bring on board? And by the way, if your bag doesn't fit (because it's--ahem--too big or because somehow, everyone else's two carry-on's somehow take up all the available overhead space) they simply take it to the front of the plane and check it... probably for free! So let's all carry our luggage on, let them check it, and throw a fit if they try to charge us for it. "Hmm, I can get the plane out of the gate on time, saving thousands of dollars in fuel costs and gate fees. Or, I can make sure those louts pay their baggage check fees! Between that, the snack box receipts, and six dollars for a glass of 2-buck-chuck we'll be rolling in dough!"
So let's cut the flight attendants a little slack, eh?!