That’s right… go back 2 posts for the start of this saga 😉
Part 3- The Deep-End
We’re on schedule, go figure. Even though we have been a part of many delays around us, Honey and I are not really late. According to the big board at Pearson International airport in Toronto, we are on-time and leaving at Gate B27. Don’t be mistaken, we are still miserable but this is our last flight. There is a certain amount of relief in that, more than half our travel day is done and in less than six hours we’ll be home. The end is in sight.
Pearson International Airport in Toronto has two terminals, Numbers 1 and 3. There were supposed to be three terminals and Terminal 2 did exist for a while. But when Terminal 3 was being built to handle larger aircraft with larger wingspans, they realized that Terminal 2 was just in the way… so they tore it down. Each terminal has their own flight departure area and customs entry point.
Air Canada dominates Terminal 1. Both an international and domestic carrier, Air Canada has more flights in and out of Toronto than any other carrier. As Canada’s original national carrier, this makes them feel special enough to warrant their own terminal, and they and the tax-payers paid cash to make it that way. This makes Terminal 1’s arrival and departure areas both high-risk areas.
Terminal 3 is used for international flights for all other companies WestJet, British Airways, Lufthansa and Delta, etc. If you are flying from Europe, Asia or Australia, you are going through Customs in Terminal C. They see the most international arrivals of any terminal. I would have assumed this is where Customs and Immigration, would focus additional manpower. Maybe when I arrived they were on coffee.
Terminal 3 is the Domestic Terminal for all carriers that service the country, if you’re flying anywhere in this country, you’re going to Terminal 3. Yes, you’re right… Air Canada also services the country from Terminal 1, but I’m not special!! I’m in 3!! Along with the majority of travellers that landed in this country!! Every connection to anywhere in the country, goes through Terminal 3’s departure area, unless you’re special. If you just flew in from Seoul and you’re going to Calgary, you go to the Domestic departure in Terminal 3. Tehran to Saskatoon… Domestic. Florence to Vancouver… Domestic. Any high-risk area to any place other than Toronto… Domestic! The departure area of Terminal 3, in my opinion, is the highest-risk area at this airport. If someone with Covid-19 traveled through Toronto on this day, the odds are they visited the departure area of Terminal 3.
Contracting the coronavirus is not a predominant worry of mine. The spread, although concerning, is in its infancy in Canada at this time, and my personal risk is very low. But I would be lying if I said, it didn’t matter, or it will never happen to me. Bad things happen and by the time you are reading this, the nine cases being reported when I returned from The Playa two weeks ago, will have skyrocketed. This sucker is really contagious and unlike the garden-variety flu, it will kill you quickly.
Scary? Absolutely! But my concern at the moment is getting through security and to Gate 27B. If that nasty bug is somewhere in Terminal 3, I will hopefully avoid it. Even if I get it, there is no way it can make me feel any crappier than I do on travel-day. So, I am not going to worry about it.
Security at Pearson, is leaps and bounds ahead of the Dominican Republic, and every other airport I have ever flown through for that matter. They have an automated system in use, to screen carry-on luggage. There are no stacks of small grey trays at the end of a roller-belt, that need to be filled with electronics and clothing items. Instead there are stations that have a self-feeding tray system. Go to your station, take out a tray from under the station, and a new empty one fills the rack below. You never run out of trays! Not only that… the trays are extra large!! I’ve become a two-tray electronics guy but not there! One-tray and done!! Once I fill my tray, I push it towards a screener, who has stood across a conveyer-belt from me, and watched as I fumbled around sorting my crap. They take the offered tray and give me the standard line, “Is that it? Any coins or metal in your pockets?” Satisfied, the screener slides my tray onto the belt and up to the scanner. I know this shows just how back-woods I am, but I have to say, the whole system was super-slick!!!
After security, Honey and I purchase a coffee on our way to Gate B27. I know neither of us is happy, I haven’t felt my butt since somewhere over the Atlantic. For all I know it has fallen off and maybe no one that was around me at the time, had the courage to say, “Excuse me sir. I think you dropped your ass.” It would be like telling someone that their zipper is down… awkward.
Like everything at this airport, Gate 27B is a long walk. We pass crowds of people at other gates waiting for their flights to other Canadian cities. We take another un-comfortable seat in the waiting area at Gate 27B and sip our coffee. The conversation between Honey and I is basically just moaning with every movement. We are united in our mutual hate of winter, as we look out at the storm that is raging on the other side of the viewing window. Our plane sits parked outside on the tarmac; the boarding ramp attached to its fuselage.
There are a number of families in the waiting area. It is late and their children are fussing. Honey and I let out a collective groan when one of them starts hacking loudly and crying. We sink our heads lower into our chests. Three more hours, I think to myself, and we will be away from the traveling crowds and their potential to infect me with something.
The AI voice in Toronto is female with a slight French accent, very Canadiana. The AI in Toronto is giving basic information in easy to understand language. There is no Tattoo telling me my plane is here, just flight boarding information and changes. The public address system in Terminal 3 is top-grade as well. I have no problem hearing the AI when she said, “Attention. This is a gate change. All passenger flying blah, blah to Calgary, you will now depart at Gate 27B.” What?? I’m at 27B. I’m not going to Calgary!
A moment later AI is back on. “Attention. This is a gate change. Passengers on flight blah, blah, will now be departing at Gate 29B” Damn… I’m on flight blah, blah! We grab our baggage and make our way to Gate 29B. Quickly moving past the hacking-baby family. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they are going to Calgary.
We find a new un-comfortable seat at Gate 29B, and take a look around. Two attendants stand at a desk, beside the gate entrance. I look out the window at the tarmac, then look to be sure I’m at the right gate. The boarding ramp hangs empty, it has no plane attached to it! They’re supposed to start boarding in ten minutes! Why am I here?? The last gate had a plane ready to go!! How am I supposed to get home without a plane?!!!
“Passengers flying blah, blah,” one of the gate attendants has a microphone up to her lips, “if you will please take a seat, there will be a slight delay before we begin boarding.” You think?? Tough to board something that isn’t there!! It is twenty-minutes before a plane arrives at our gate, it is 9:20 local time. That plane is due to lift-off in 15 minutes. That is not going to happen. A glance at the big board tells me the same thing, I am now actually delayed.
At 9:45pm, the gate attendant makes the announcement that, “… we are just waiting for the flight crew to arrive from another flight and we will begin boarding.” 10pm; “The flight crew is just going through customs and when they arrive, we will begin boarding.” 10:15pm; “Okay folks, the crew has arrived and as soon as they complete their pre-flight inspection, we will begin boarding.” 10:25pm; “Okay folks. The Captain says we’re good to go. So, all passengers traveling with small children…” Hacking-baby family has been standing at the attendant desk for 45-minutes, they are ready.
Behind me a woman has rushed to seat in the waiting area. “I thought we were going to miss this flight,” she is saying to any one that is interested, “we were late leaving Barbados.” You didn’t need to worry lady, I thought to myself, because you had our pilot with you!! Honey and I join the line when we hear our zone called, I am in no rush to get to this next un-comfortable seat.