Life on Airport Time

What with the Aubergine Alert flickering, and the drums of war beating ever closer, you might expect that air travel through Boston would have the security sphincter ever more tightened this week than most. And you would be right.

Terminal E at Logan, the terminal through which all international arrivals and departures are handled, has been under construction for as long as anyone can remember. While the light at the end of the tunnel is nearer now than ever before — you can actually see evidence of new construction now, while previously it was shrouded behind drywall curtains — it’s still a chaotic place to travel through. Indeed having been through more airports than I can count in the last year, I’d have to say that Terminal E is about as bad as it gets.

So you start with a chaotic terminal, apply considerably increased paranoia, triple the number of security personnel while cutting in half the number of security gates and doubling the amount of going-over we’re all subjected to, add in a gaggle of excited students taking Lufthansa to Frankfurt for the February break, and the result is a melee.

As an added bonus, you have the Air Canada standard practice of telling passengers to be ready to board at, say 3:10 p.m. while not actually boarding the plane until 3:35 p.m.

There is no more a stark contrast from my experiences in Boston to the mood here in the Air Canada departure lounge in Halifax as I type this. While the Halifax Airport has also been under constant renovation for as long as anyone can remember, the worst is now over, and slow times like this (8:30 on a Saturday night), you could shoot a cannon through the place and not do any damage (although this action would no doubt be considered an egregious infraction of several federal laws). The flight to Charlottetown is the last one of the day, leaving at 9:40 p.m., and having landed here at 6:10 p.m., I get to experience this humming calm for almost four hours.

Which means that in addition to answering my backlog of email, and seeking to entertain or at least distract the readership, I also have had ample opportunity to enjoy the offerings of the oddly named “Brisket,” the new food concession in the departures areas (brisket: “a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest especially of beef”; in other words “no vegetarian options”).

If you set aside the scheduling quirk that leaves me here for a four hour wait (which is roughly enough time to be back and forth to Boston again), service from Air Canada on this trip has been less abysmal that usual. The planes still shake and rattle. There’s still no food to speak of. But the folks seem friendlier and less stressed out, and things seem to be flowing a little more smoothly. Maybe I’m just becoming used to the abyss.

Only 70 more minutes until my plane leaves…

Postscript at 8:51 p.m.: some sort of loud cult of 14 year old girls, some 40 of them, has descended on the departure lounge. Calm has deparated; tittering ensues.

Another postscript at 8:54 p.m.: as near as I can tell, this cultic gaggle is comprised of British youth en route to Deer Lake or Gander. And there is one young male in their midst. Which if I recall correctly from my own teenaged years, means this young chap is either in heaven or in hell, depending on his disposition.

Followup at 9:00 p.m.: they all appear to be going skiing or snowboarding.

Observation at 9:01 pm.: is it an consequence of our colonial past that people with a British accent, at least a British accent of a particular sort, sound far more intelligent than we could all ever hope to manage here in Canada, even if they’re only 14 and on their way to ski in Newfoundland?


Eaglethorpe's picture
Eaglethorpe on February 17, 2003 - 17:09 Permalink

The British command of the english language is astonishing.

Christopher's picture
Christopher on February 18, 2003 - 03:03 Permalink

Surely not. After all, it’s ours.