Thursday, January 19, 2012

YYG observations

I've been spending a lot of time at the airport lately. Unfortunately, this is not a result of long layovers en route somewhere amazing and wonderful, but is actually for work purposes. The Charlottetown Airport is special because it's tiny and kind of treated more like a train station. You could arrive 90 minutes before your flight, or you could arrive 25 minutes before your flight, provided you have no luggage to check and have already printed your boarding pass at home. Otherwise, you should be prepared to arrive 45-50 minutes before your flight if you are from away; 15 minutes if you are an Islander or have 'strong Island connections' (not as in flight connections, but as in having family in PEI, previously visited, or perhaps once ate a potato or at least strongly considered eating a potato). That being said, sometimes it can take longer to check in if you're from PEI because it must be asked how the family is doing. A detailed answer with some new gossip is expected.

During my time at yee ol' YYG, I've witnessed a phenomena that would probably almost never take place in the airport of a metropolis. It shall be called the Fly Away Support Clan (aye). I estimate that 80% of people flying out bring at least three people with them to the Airport for support. In some cases, the Support Group spends a bit of time at the airport while the flyer checks in. Flyer checks in, all is determined to be satisfactory, good byes are said. The second type of Support Group stays a bit longer until the flyer decides to proceed through security. Flyer heads to security, support group says good bye and leaves.

The remaining two Support Groups are a bit more irritating and surprisingly frequent. As part of my jobby-job, I approach people and ask if they are visitors or "currently live in PEI" (you have to be very careful with how you word this). This is a bit more difficult when the traveller is surrounded by a small entourage. The first remaining Support Group hovers by security to make sure the traveller gets through okay. They aren't exactly standing in line, but standing almost in line watching the exciting process of their person pulling off half of her clothing, pulling miscellaneous "dangerous" items from carry-ons, proving electronics aren't actually bombs, etc. This creates a bottleneck because new people end up standing behind the Support Group, surprised to find a line at such a tiny airport.

The last Support Group takes on the role as personal security guards to the flyer. They basically escort the traveller through the security line to the point they get asked for a boarding pass and identification. I'm sure this happens all the time in major international airports. You know, the ones where they don't let you in/near the line unless you're actually going somewhere. (Note that I appreciate in some situations it may be necessary, such as a child travelling alone, someone in need of assistance, etc.)

I mentioned above how careful one most be with wording when determining who is a visitor and who is a PEI resident. I made a critical error at first by asking, "Are you from PEI or were you visiting?"

"Oh yeah, I'm from here, just visiting." (I'm constantly relearning that asking a male an 'or' question is pointless.)

"Okay, do you currently live here?"

"No, I moved away 15 years ago."

"Great! I'm handing out blah blah blah blah blah to visitors."

"Oh, I'm not a visitor, I'm from here."


So now I carefully and politely ask people if they currently live in PEI or if they were visiting. It's still tricky but communication is improving.

And lastly, most of you are travelling with waaaaaay too much luggage. Keep it simple, friends. (MacPhail proverb. The end.)


Emily said...

The MacPhails are nicer than the Browns. The Brown proverb is: Keep is simple, stupid.

Charles Hollyer said...

So people like to pack by mood. Don't judge a book based on it's baggage.

JCMP said...

I love your write-up...I also love to travel...or should I say..I love to arrive at nice warm places.