And I flew happily ever after

Business class seats in airplane.

Did you have trouble sleeping last night because you were so eager to hear about my return trip? Apologies, but I’m trusting you used the non-pharmaceutical tips for insomniacs I provided in an earlier post if needed. Since I can’t imagine the discomfort of hanging on hooks of any kind, I will now take you off those tenterhooks.

When I called the airline the day before my flight, their medical office informed me that, doctor’s orders or not, the company would gladly ferry me through the airport in a wheelchair, but they wouldn’t make any accommodations on the flight without full payment for an upgrade. I found this information both discouraging and stressful, since I did not know how uncomfortable four hours in a cramped seat would leave me, and I had declined those hefty painkillers offered at the ER. I also dreaded asking the passenger on my right if I could put my injured leg on his lap for 4 hours. Seems an intimate request to make of a stranger.

Since my trip had been such a disaster, I needed this story to end well. I decided, despite the medical office’s rules, that I’d still approach the gate agent for help. If I got a similar response, I’d point out, “You realize this note was written by Dr. Brian Goldman, don’t you?” I could only hope this Canadian household name would have some clout. If that didn’t work, I’d have to come up with another strategy that would not involve crying. (Yes, there had been tears. I just wanted you to believe I could cope with stress.) I was prepared.

Turns out I didn’t need to pull the Dr. Goldman card after all. I was wheeled up to the gate before the agent arrived, saw how aggravated she was at being hounded before she was ready, and waited patiently. As the crowds dispersed, I approached. She was initially dismissive of my request, telling me that the flight was overbooked. But when I further explained my situation calmly but concisely, using my best assertiveness speak, she somehow found me a perfect seat in Business Class. She even asked me which leg was injured to spare me putting my elevated body parts into anyone’s face. With this divine intervention, I received all benefits of Business Class seating. I was served a lovely three-course meal (although sadly I had to decline the free alcohol), I never had to stand in line for the washroom, and my every need was met. The flight attendant was efficient and kind and I was in heaven. Yes, literally.

And I got to keep my letter, my only proof of my encounter with my radio idol. I’ll gladly show it to any doubters out there. I don’t make this stuff up.

I’ve decided, based on this experience, which was not perfect but worked out well in the end, that Air Canada has unfairly been given a bum rap. Sure, there are challenging employees in any organization, but there are others who are reasonable and kind. That gate agent saved me tremendous pain and a prolonged recovery. Now I’d better go write her a thank you letter or she may never know how much I appreciated her efforts. I only told her seven times in our two-minute encounter, amidst happy tears.

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