Back to Bermuda

Wed, Jan 2, 2008 @ 18:01

I should start by wishing everyone who recognizes it a happy new year. I’m not going to put up any predictions this time around because they are depressing to look at in a few years time when they still haven’t been accomplished.

I spent my New Year’s Day on an airplane. After an icy and snowy drive to the airport in Halifax courtesy of my parents, I managed to catch my ridiculously early flight to Toronto without too much issue. I knew ahead of time that my connection to Bermuda was delayed… by three hours. A small delay would have been good because I was a tad late coming in from Halifax, but the real drama started when I finally did get on the plane in Toronto.

I will stop here and explain the core delay reason to anyone who has not flown out of a northern area in the winter. Deicing. Unfortunately this has nothing to do with licking the frosting off of a cake. It has everything to do with removing the snow and ice built up on an airplane. And not just removing it, but ensuring that no more builds up before take-off. To do this, they will spray the plane with a chemical mixture from some crane like sprayer.

Back to my anecdote. So we crammed everyone onto a completely full flight to Bermuda and the captain addresses the plane saying that he apologizes for the initial delay and that we are waiting for our turn in the deicing bay, and that he doesn’t want to guess, but it could be an hour before take-off. Obviously that didn’t go over too well. Then he comes on to make a comment about the auxiliary power which normally powers the air conditioning while the plane is parked. It wasn’t working so it might be warm. Shortly after that we heard a sound outside the plane, which wasn’t particularly interesting, but I made note because someone in another seat commented on it. And apparently the captain felt the need to explain some more: “Sorry about the noise outside everyone, the truck that was trying to supply power so we can start the plane blew a hose.” Wow, comforting.

Finally we get started and push back. We move a short distance and stop, I assume we are queuing for the deicer. Another announcement:

“It seems we have driven through some slush or something and now our brakes are frozen. We are working to get them unfrozen, and fortunately there is no line up in front of us now, although some other planes are passing us. Once we get this settled we should be able to get deiced quickly.”

At this point people are making all sorts of remarks about the announcements. Once we get moving again though, we get the get the cherry on top of our icing.

“Sorry again folks, but the spray truck just ran out of deicing fluid as it was finishing up the plane in front of us. They are going to get more, but it be another few minutes.”

Eventually we were sprayed and the several inches of snow removed, replaced by a lovely green chemical coating. The flight even experienced a fair bit of turbulence as it passed over some of the weather cells in New England. Fortunately I was able to get through customs without any complications and got to my house roughly 4.5 hours after I originally planned to.

As a small side story, they started the entertainment system while we waited, but we weren’t allowed to use headphones on the ground, so I came up with the idea of watching a foreign film which had subtitles. I watched all but the last 15 minutes of “Mon meilleur ami” without any audio at all. It was a really good movie in fact, and I recommend it.