Smoke on Flight AC 001 to Tokyo or What Went Wrong with Air Canada



It has been a long time since I had posted anything on my blog. During my absence, quite a few things had happened in Canada – the dreaded Section 13 appears to be already dead; another Caribbean degenerate has violated Toronto’s multicultural nirvana by shooting a few people right in the heart of the city; the pinheads of the City Council had again displayed their unique brand of downtown stupidity by banning the plastic bags, etc.

There are quite a few issues to catch up on, but let me start with an event, which most likely has gone unnoticed, although its consequences might be felt on a larger scale in the future.

What you see above is a copy of my ticket for the Air Canada flight to Tokyo at 2:10 p.m. on May 28, 2012. By the time you read my post, probably nobody will remember what happened on that flight (Air Canada being most interested in forgetting it). So please consider my writing something like a message from your nagging aunt who reminds you of things nobody wants to remember, but which may help you save your life.

I have never felt comfortable flying – whenever I am on an airplane, I play through my mind the most horrible scenarios of crash and burn. However, luckily I have never gone through a truly dangerous experience (if you don’t count the Russian airplanes, where shaking and funny noises are parts of the normal flight).

Ironically, flight AC 001 was my worst experience, but I hardly noticed it. According to the reports that appeared in the papers the next day, smoke began to come out of one of the engines of our airplane shortly after we took off. That’s what many people on the ground saw, and so did a few on board, but since the majority of the passengers were Japanese, who are too polite to engage in a panic behaviour, the rest of us didn’t find out about the smoke.

The strange thing I noticed was the silence I felt about half an hour after the flight started. It was a pleasant surprise compared to the usual noise, but actually there was nothing pleasant about it – it was caused by the fact that the pilot turned off the burning engine. Another unusual thing was that for over two ours none of the flight attendants showed up to offer us anything.

It turned out that during that time we were circling over Toronto trying to get permission for an emergency landing. The next day I read in the National Post that debris, which most likely fell from our airplane, reached Mississauga and broke the windshield of a car.

Apparently, it was a matter of luck that the incident happened over Toronto. If we were hit by it over the prairies or the ocean, our non-stop flight carrying over 300 passengers and 16 crew members, would have become the next large international body retrieval operation.

I have always found weird Air Canada’s hiring practices for flight attendants. You would never see in the Singaporean or Thai airlines a pudgy middle-aged man with white hair working as a flight attendant. But that’s what we had on Flight AC 001. He was the one who communicated with us over the speakers. Maybe because of his experience, not only did he manage to put a brave face on the situation, but he also did it with a sense of humor.

He told us what a nice bunch of people we are and how bad it was that the crew wasn’t able to keep flying with us, but since one of the engines was overheating, we had to return to Toronto to check up the plane. Then we would continue.

Well, soon we landed. At the door of the airplane we were met by quite a few officials in uniforms and many ID cards hanging from their necks. That was the first sign that something serious had happened.

I already mentioned that the crew handled the situation quite well; things were under control, without screams and panic. However, that’s the last good thing I can say in this post about Air Canada. Things got erratic from that point on.

Upon leaving the damaged airplane, we were told that we would continue for Tokyo at 7 p.m. While waiting at the Maple Leaf Lounge, where we had to endure watching Strombo on CBC, it was announced that the airplane couldn’t continue, and there was no other crew or airplane available. Everybody was called to the luggage unloading area to retrieve their suitcases.

Then we were told that with our boarding passes we can get up to $15 worth of food at any of the airport restaurants. Once we got the luggage, we were supposed to go again to the departures area to rebook the flight. It turned out that was not necessary until the next day.

Then they announced that they will provide hotel accommodation to all passengers for the night. It turned out that wasn’t quite true – the people from Toronto were exempt. One of the ground employees told us that we had to take a taxi home and return the next day with the receipts – Air Canada was supposed to cover the expense. I have always been suspicious of such arrangements – it is usually a pain in the ass trying to get a large company to redeem your out-of-the-pocket expenses.

We asked around and lo and behold, another employee told us that we can get Air Canada taxi vouchers, so no cash would change hands. The only problem was that we had to line up at a different place. By the time we got the vouchers, found a taxi and reached our home, it was well past midnight. The flight was scheduled for 8 a.m. the next day and we were told to be at the airport by 5:30 a.m. So we had to get up 3 a.m. to make it for the flight.

The next morning everything went on smoothly (if you don’t count the exhaustion). The only eerie thing was that at the moment when we were passing through the security, the loudspeakers were playing the Everly Brothers’ Ebony Eyes.  I don’t know if it was a radio or a local program, and I like the song, but the story in it revolves around an airplane crash. That sounded like a bad omen, but we managed to reach Tokyo safely.

Although the whole experience was quite frustrating, I didn’t find it surprising at all.

For many years Air Canada has been a grossly mismanaged company. First of all, it is a monopoly with all the benefits it could derive from that position, yet it has managed to come near bankruptcy a few times. It is hard to figure out how that is possible, until one gets into consideration the company’s unions.

Over the last few years, the Air Canada unions (especially the one, which controls the flight attendants) have shamelessly made a mockery of the company’s clients – the passengers who pay for their services.

Many times they had played sinister games by threatening strikes and creating uncertainty about the flights. In the summer of the last year, during such a cat and mouse play between the management and the unions, the flight attendants threatened to go on a strike. At the time we needed to fly to South Korea for an event and had to be there by a specific date. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, we had to book a flight through the USA. Other than depriving their company from our money, the Air Canada unions forced us to deal with the imbeciles from the US immigration services, who experience a sadistic pleasure in humiliating everybody, except Muslims (most Americans I know are quite nice people, but I am not sure where they find those immigration idiots).

When we came back from Korea, we were “pleasantly” surprised to see that the CUPE local that unites the Air Canada flight attendants was a major part of the Occupy Toronto movement:


Air Canada flight attendants in support of the occupy freaks


I am not sure what the flight attendants think about that, but I find it strange that they are represented by criminal unions, which support a movement organized by stinky and deranged hippies, whose purpose is get us back to the stone age. Their hatred for all corporations would put in danger Air Canada as one of the largest Canadian corporations and a “carbon polluter”. But that’s what the unions do – they push and scream until they drive out of business the company they are part of.

In the months that followed the “occupation” we had several other strike scares involving pilots calling sick en masse. Then there was an illegal several-hour- long strike of the security personnel, which caused chaos at the Toronto Airport and caused many people to miss their flights.

Of course, all those events involve the visible personnel, with which the passengers communicate directly. But what about those who work behind the scenes, like the mechanics?

The incident we went through was caused by an engine malfunction and the mechanics are those responsible for uncovering and fixing such defects.

Judging from the chaos that the unions managed to cause by creating an atmosphere of irresponsibility and contempt for the company’s clients, it is hard to believe that the maintenance division has escaped the poisonous effects of those activities.

Nobody would give a damn about any mechanical problems, if the company was producing let’s say Hello Kitty stickers. But we are talking here about a company, which is entrusted with transporting large numbers of people in complex machines, which require first-class maintenance.

That’s not the maintenance we got for that flight – remember, if the engine started to burn far from a major airport, it’s safe to assume that we would’ve ended up on the ground, with no survivors left.

So my question is – when will the management, staff and unions of Air Canada stop acting like a bunch of hysterical schoolgirls? When will they realize that their stupid quarrels and fights endanger the safety and the lives of thousands of people? One may consider such a lousy service normal in Africa, where they don’t have enough money to do better, but how can you feel comfortable seeing the same service in Canada?

Yes, I am asking the questions, but not holding my breath to get answers anytime soon…


© 2012

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  1. SM ISAC says:

    OMG. Yes, I did hear about it from a friend of mine, and I remember my immediate reaction at the time: “Poor maintenance and damned union. Nobody cares.”

    Thank God, you’re alright.

    1. admiwrath says:

      Thank you. You summarized the situation perfectly in only seven words.

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