This, a second in a series, appeared in the "Horizons" magazine, issue dated March 1996.
Life as A Con by Annette Malvar.
The Alps have always held a special allure for me. Who knows why? They have nothing on our own Rockies — I've just always wanted to go.
So, after my first whole year with the big AC, seven Res agents and I thought it would be neat to ski in Austria for five days. Since I knew of the perfect spot, yours truly was designated the official planner. I got us the cars from Hertz (great weekly rates) found us the perfect "Heidi House'" pension, knew which restaurants would accept hungry Canadians and which mountains to ski at what time of the day.
In all humility, I had planned the perfect ski vacation. That was before the return trip home at which point things started to unravel faster than an Alberto Tomba ski run.
In my defense there were 30 open seats on AC 879 from Zurich on that fateful day. Who would have guessed "WEIGHT AND BALANCE" would become significant words. Ever heard the term before? To this day, I'm still not sure of its complete technical meaning, except for "you ain't going anywhere".
What to do? Next AC flight from ZRH to Canada only in three days, and we had a slight logistical problem (called work) the next day. There were no more flights with any airline from Europe to North America that day.
Fortunately the AC flight from Frankfurt (FRA) the next day had plenty of space (L-1011, what a life saver), so we ran to the AC counter and purchased eight ID90's from ZRH to FRA, then ran to Lufthansa and made the flight to FRA with one minute to spare. Upon arrival in FRA, we phoned around for a hotel deal which we promptly found at the Steigenberger Hotel for a measly CAD $170 per room.
Next problem - only one of us had any room left on their credit card and only enough to cover ONE double room. Solution - six of us snuck into the room only to realize that two beds in Europe means two single beds, not double.
Here's a free tip for the frugal amongst you: should you ever stuff eight people into a double room, don't call room service for six extra towels sets as it tends to make people suspicious. Oh yes, my last piece of advice, after you've taken the mattresses off the box springs (that's four beds now), please replace them in the morning.
In case anybody is wondering, we all made the flight from Frankfurt to Toronto the next day.
After reading Norm Foster's account in NetLetter #1451 of the worst PR flight, it brought to mind a similar story.
I can't remember the dates but I was a newly minted Flight Dispatcher in 1988 and it occurred shortly after that. The "horn" was now operated by DC-9 equipment and if I recall the routing was YUL-YVO-YUY-YUL.
Because of high fuel costs up north we always carried enough fuel from YUL to cover the entire trip. The winter weather and runway conditions up north were not ideal but certainly worthy of an attempt. Well, on one occasion, things did go sour and the flight missed both YVO and YUY, and, by the time the aircraft returned to YUL, the weather had deteriorated there as well and precluded a landing.
Bottom line is the aircraft ended up in Burlington, Vermont. So these poor passengers in the back ended up with probably a 4 hour plane ride and didn't even end up where they started.
Eventually the weather cleared up in YUL and the flight terminated back at origin. What a night!!
Retired Flight Dispatcher