Westjet Offers Criminals Preferential Treatment

Trip Start Sep 17, 2012
Trip End Nov 11, 2012

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, September 17, 2012

So here I am, it's 3:30am and I’m sitting in our suite at The Hotel at Terminal City Club (thank you for the free upgrade!) in Vancouver and I can’t sleep, what better time to start my very first blog.

On Sunday I had the brilliant idea that rather than get up at 5:00am and try to put the finishing touches on closing down our house for a 2 month absence, we should finish up now, and spend the night at a hotel near the airport. So Monday morning we got up at 5:15, caught the airport shuttle shortly after 6 and were at the airport self check in by 6:15.

I don’t get self check-in. Rather than the old system of waiting in line for an agent who then printed you boarding passes, tagged your luggage and sent your bags off to their destination, the airlines managed to come up with a system that uses twice the amount of paper, takes twice the number of staff to check you in, and makes you wait in twice the number of lines… now that’s progress!   

Nowadays, you print your boarding pass at home, and at the airport wait in line for a self-serve kiosk. A perky agent watches as you insert your passport exactly as it shows on the instructions, takes your passport and inserts it a different way, says the machine’s not  working properly, types a bunch of stuff, and prints your luggage tags and another set of boarding passes. You then throw out the boarding passes you printed at home as she directs you to the self-serve baggage drop. As you approach one of the many available and boldly indicated self serve baggage drops, another agent at another counter yells at you to go back in line and wait for her. When she is finally free, she inspects your boarding passes, asks you how many bags you are checking, and then has you place them, properly oriented, on the conveyor.

Our passage through security was a breeze, and we were sitting down to breakfast in the departure concourse more than an hour before our flight time.

I have to pause here for a special note to my friends at Black Lion - Homestyle. For those of you who don’t know the place, it’s a great little local restaurant in Beaurepaire Village. They have the best sandwiches on the best bread I’ve ever had. Their dinners are a little different from the run-of-the-mill, and always delicious. Their Carrot Cake is the best in the world. Guys, we had breakfast at the airport, past security. You know, the place where merchants are on a mission to keep as much of your money as possible in the local economy before you run off to spend it elsewhere. The place where they have a captive, rushed, well-to-do clientele and operate their business in almost a monopoly… Breakfast of 2 eggs, meat, potatoes, toast and coffee is only $6.99...

We made it to Edmonton without incident and since we had almost 3 hours until our connection to Vancouver, we went for a walk in the brand new departure and a bite to eat. Two hours later we discovered our flight was delayed for about 3 1/2 hours due to a maintenance issue. Taking advantage of Westjet’s generous $10 food voucher offer and being the gallant husband that I am, I sent Annette to stand in line for our vouchers. The people in front of her seemed to be taking a lot of time, so on her return, I asked her what the problem was. She reported the conversation went something like this:

Passenger: Where can I use the voucher?

Westjet Agent: Anywhere in the concourse except Booster Juice.

Passenger: Can I use it at Montana’s?

Westjet Agent: Yes, you can use it anywhere in the concourse except Booster Juice.

Passenger:   Can I use it at Starbucks?

Westjet Agent:  Yes, you can use it anywhere in the concourse except Booster Juice.

Passenger:   Can I use it at the iBoutique?

Westjet Agent: Yes, you can use it anywhere in the concourse except Booster Juice.

Passenger:   Can I use it at…?

…. Okay, you get the point.

So we got our coupons, and, having just eaten, decided to pick up a bag of really expensive nuts at the Relay store next door to the gate.

Annette: "We have a voucher from Westjet to pay for this."

Clerk: “I’m sorry, you can’t use that here.”

And, and that’s the highlights of our day. Oh, I almost forgot, you must be wondering about the title of the blog. You see, waiting at the gate in Edmonton there were 2  BC Sheriffs escorting a man with his wrists handcuffed and chained around his waist, and his ankles cuffed together. They too received vouchers, and while we sitting at Starbucks, we overheard their conversation which was something like:

Sheriff: We have a few hours what do we do?

Shackled Guy: I could use a smoke and something to eat.

Sheriff: If you want to smoke we’d have to leave and go through security again to get back in, is that ok?

Shackles: I don’t mind.

Sheriff: OK, let’s go.

They finished their coffee and scones and headed out.

 Our flight was supposed to leave Edmonton at about 1:45 but was delayed until 5:15. There was another flight out at 4, which was apparently full, but Shackles and his entourage managed to get seats and, they were allowed to board even before pre-boarding.  Criminality has its privileges.

Annette will be writing about our travels some more. In the universe of questions, I guess her blog will be more of Who, What, When, and Where, and mine will be more Why, and maybe How. If you’re not already on her list, (and want to be) Friend her on Facebook or send me a note. We should have lots of interesting pictures and stories from far away places.

'til next time….WYWH (Stolen from John Heald, my favourite blogger)

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molly gruman on

Good stuff Peter, waiting to hear more.

(P.S. Maybe you could get some fake handcuffs and shackles and Annette could get a Sheriff's outfit and then you could get better treatment from the airlines and would probably have some great stories to tell and also your conversations could end up on who knows how many blogs. You could be famous,......... then again, maybe not.)

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