Posts Tagged ‘Tales From the Road’

Tales from the Road: Why I love the Dash-8

I’m sitting on a Dash-8, that’s one of those noisy slow propeller planes, where anyone over 6 foot has to bend over to get in, and there are only 10 rows (but it is big enough to have window & aisle seats!) . As I sit here mid-flight, I am quite content. Strange for a semi-frequent traveller, you would think I would want my Airbus or Boeing with the built in entertainment system but somehow this feels just right. But why?

The Dash-8 is like the school bus of airplanes, it’s loud, it’s bumpy, it’s slow, but it will take you where you are going. I went through a period where I had a horrible fear of flying, during that time I was taking a Dash-8 every week. In discussions with the staff I discovered the Dash-8

  • has one of the best glide ratios of all commercial planes (meaning if the engine dies it won’t immediately just fall to the ground, it’ll do it a little more gradually so I can kid myself that we might even be able to land safely, please no-one tell me that’s wrong, I am still slightly nervous about flying Winking smile)
  • can land in a football field (I have been at the airport and seen jets stranded on the ground unable to take off due to the weather while the Dash-8 planes took off, they are real workhorses!)
  • Can handle huge drops in elevation (one of the attendants told me the pilots take them up and do a few big drops so they can learn exactly what the plane can handle, that way when they are on windy landings into St Johns, which is notorious for bumpy, windy landings, they understand, it may be bumpy, but everything will be fine. They told me stories of passengers screaming during landings at St Johns, mental note, take the ferry to Newfoundland.

So for a slightly nervous flier, the Dash-8 is strangely comforting.

I think another aspect is my sheer familiarity with the plane, having spent over a year working in Fredericton ages ago and flying back and forth from Ottawa every week in a Dash-8.

  • the rattle of the chassis during flight that you can sometimes stop if you put your hand up against the rattling bit of the interior.
  • The bumpiness and change of pitch coming from the propeller when you fly through the clouds
  • Row 7-10 the quiet rows in the back
  • Row 3&4 to be avoided because you have a propeller buzzing in your ear
  • Seat 1B to be avoided because you end up playing footsie with the flight attendant
  • Seat 1D excellent if you are a regular because the snacks are stored in the little cupboard in front of you, however sneaking your own snacks is not recommended until the attendants know you by name Smile
  • Seat 10E for those who need extra leg room, its the last row in the plane and you can stick your legs down the aisle

Or maybe it’s because I don’t have enough status for special treatment from the airlines, and the Dash-8 is a great equalizer.

  • I don’t have to worry about all those status folk boarding before me taking up all the overhead room. They have skycheck, I just throw my suitcase on the rack before I walk up the stairs onto the plane, knowing it will be waiting for me when I deplane.
  • No executive class seats full of fliers with more status than me looking smug to walk past as I go to my assigned cattle class seat

Yup, the school bus of airplanes, without the gum on the seats, it’s good to be back. Am I the only one who actually enjoys flying in an old beater of a plane?

Cheers,

Susan

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To Check or Not To Check – tales from the road

DSCN0114I don’t quite qualify as a road warrior (I have to pay for drinks in airports), but I do spend a fair bit of time flying hither and yon (I have sufficient cachet with my airline that I can call a different number for reservations so I don’t wait on hold with the general public).

Further evidence of my non-supermegaflyer status is the mere fact that I considered checking a bag for a 3 day trip. Checking a bag is simple, just toss everything in a medium sized suitcase and don’t worry too much about space, or how big a tube of toothpaste you pack. Truth be told, I feel strangely superior when I line up to board with nothing but my little backpack and see those obnoxious business travellers with laptop bags and a suitcase that “clearly” would not fit in the little wire rack on display prominently beside the gate. I feel downright smug when they get on the plane only to find that all the overhead compartments are full knowing that that *I* took a bit of extra time and checked my suitcase. *I* am not holding up other passengers and taking up entire overhead bins with my suitcase, laptop bag and coat. But the more I travel, the more the dark side beckons…when you land on Friday and leave on Sunday, with the magic of online check-in, you can go straight to security! That means an extra 15-20 minutes on the patio sipping a glass of wine. We’ve all had that moment, standing at the luggage carousel wondering just how long it can possibly take to unload the bags, where we find ourselves thinking, if only I hadn’t checked a bag, I would already be on my way.

DSCN0111With the new job, and the increased number of trips, I took the first step, I went shopping for a suitcase specifically to use as a carry on. It has a zip up pouch in the front that is perfect for holding a ziploc bag of liquids and gels, Heck, it even came with its own ziploc bag! This week there is a possible strike by Air Canada customer service, so Air Canada is actually recommending that you avoid checked bags. So the time has finally come. Packing took longer than usual as I carefully rolled up each shirt (Yes I am roller not a folder!) and patted myself on the back for wearing sandals so I didn’t need to pack socks. Then I had to pack my running gear, wow running shoes take up a lot of space! Luckily you can jam running shorts and a pair of running socks into each shoe. Now time to pack up my bathroom bag. I had no idea how many things I usually pack that exceed 100mL! Toothpaste, facial cleanser, shampoo and conditioner, and I usually use a leave-in conditioner as well (have you seen my hair? and that is with the conditioner to keep it getting out of control, trust me you don’t want to see it without), even my deodorant is a gel! Digging through the bathroom drawers and cabinets, I managed to find a toothpaste sample the dentist gave me last year, a deodorant that is a solid instead of a gel, and travel bottles for my hair products. Now I just have to put this in the handy dandy little ziploc bag that came with my suitcase. Hold on a second! This bag is one of those little sandwich size ziplocs! There is no way my moisturizers, hair products, make-up (I have a liquid foundation and concealer), will fit in this tiny bag! I am convinced the person who made up the rule about the tiny little ziploc bag was a guy! They can get away with packing a mini shaving cream and toothpaste and use all the free goodies provided by the hotel. I suppose I can use the hotel shampoo, as long as I have my own conditioner, and I suppose I can skip the leave in conditioner for 2 days (so no making fun of my hair at Prairie Dev Con this week if I look like the wicked witch of the west after walking through a wind tunnel). Now if I put the big things in first, then I can just make it all fit! DSCN0113

I glide expertly through security, casually putting my laptop and clear plastic bag of liquids and gels into the tray, and efficiently putting it all away again on the other side. Looking like a pro! George Clooney would be proud. But now I sit at the gate, glancing surreptitiously at the little display that says “Your carry-on must fit in this bin”, and my flight originated in Montreal, so it’s possible that when I board there won’t be any room left in the overhead compartments.

But on the other hand my first flight was delayed which would have caused me to miss my original connection. Because I hadn’t checked a bag, I was able to just rebook on a later direct flight. Now my direct flight is delayed, but I know when I land I can just walk out the door as soon as the plane lands and grab a cab to my hotel. Apologies to my fellow passengers, but I think I am converted.

Safe travels!
Susan