Not To Be Trusted With Knives











Miss604 is having her last contest of 2008 and this blog posting is my entry.  Supporting Canada Helps, a site that facilitates online charitable donations, the prize for this contest is one of two $25 e-gift cards that can be donated to the charity of your choice.  The contest requires that you write a blog posting about a charity that is close to your heart.  This is surprisingly difficult, as there are so many good charities out there.  But I’ve decided that the charity I would donate my $25 e-gift card to, should I win the contest, is the Pivot Legal Society.

Pivot Legal Society is a non-profit legal advocacy organization located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Pivot’s mandate is to take a strategic approach to social change, using the law to address the root causes that undermine the quality of life of those most on the margins.

We believe that everyone, regardless of income, benefits from a healthy and inclusive community where values such as opportunity, respect and equality are strongly rooted in the law. (From the Pivot website)

Pivot has been/is involved in a number of important issues, including addictions (including supporting the supervised injection site in Vancouver), homelessness, child welfare, policing, and sex workers rights.  I’ve had the opporutnity to meet with some amazing women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (and I have a number of inspiring colleagues who have done a great deal of work in the DTES) and I know that Pivot is doing really important work.

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And now the conclusion of our harrowing tale of trying to fly on US Airways.  When we last left the story, our heroine and hero had spent SEVEN hours waiting in the San Jose del Cabos airport, been flown to Tuscon to walk through Immigration/Customs only to find out their luggage had been lost, then flown to Phoenix where they were put up in a hotel and given coupons for a horrible, horrible breakfast.

So.  Comparatively speaking, our flight from Phoenix to Vancouver was not nearly as bad, but still involved the following screw ups:

  • The pilot went to the wrong gate. Seriously. We were originally supposed to be at Gate B28 and then they announced that it was changed to Gate A23, so everyone started to walk over to the new gate. But then the person on the PA system said, “Wait. The pilot appears to have gone to Gate B23 instead of A23, so we’ll just have your flight to Vancouver board there.”  The fact that the pilot can’t even go to the correct gate does not give me confidence in the competence of this airline.  Not that I had much confidence left in them at this point.
  • Yet another maintenance “issue.” We were delayed an hour at the gate because, apparently, the maintenance people didn’t fill out the paperwork correctly.  The pilot announced, in a very annoyed tone of voice, “Maintenance has to come on the plane to straighten out some paperwork.  The TSA is really picky about having paperwork filled out correctly.” Oh yeah, those darn safety people wanting you take the safety seriously, how dare they?  I also find it rather suspect that it took them an hour to “straighten out the paperwork.” An hour? Really? Again, this did not fill me with confidence.
  • They didn’t have anyone at the lost baggage desk at YVR. They had lost baggage there – plenty of it.  Just sitting out in the open where anyone could have walked away with it.  We waited for 20 minutes for someone to show up.  We called their support line and the person we got on the phone tried calling someone to figure out why no one was at the desk, and then claimed that they couldn’t make any outgoing calls when we suggested that they get the airport to page the missing lost baggage person (you may recall from earlier in this sentence, they had already made an outgoing call).
  • They left forms with people’s confidential information on it sitting right out on the desk for anyone to see. Seriously. I saw six forms with people’s names, home addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, flight information, signatures and the approximate value of the contents of their lost luggage1. Eventually, someone showed up at the American Airlines desk next to the US Airways one and, after repeatedly telling us “I don’t work for US Airways. I don’t know what the other airlines do,” looked behind the counter and found our luggage, which apparently had been put on an earlier flight to Vancouver than us.  The person from American Airlines refused to put the forms with people’s confidential information out of sight, despite the fact that I asked her to do so very nicely three times, again with the “I don’t know what the other airlines do” line. Like, seriously, would it have been that hard to take the forms and put them under the desk?  At that point, I gave up on the whole thing and we left the airport, finally home in our beloved Vancouver.

So, to recap, here is a list of all the ways that US Airways screwed up on one trip:

  • FOUR planes with “maintenance issues,” including two that were unfit to fly altogether
  • a total of ELEVEN hours of delay2 (not counting the two hours delay waiting to leave Vancouver, which was due to weather (i.e., the need to wait for the de-icer), which is not their fault; and also not counting an overnight stay in Phoenix, which was their fault3)
  • They lost our luggage
  • They don’t have a person at their lost luggage desk
  • When luggage does eventually arrive at its final destination, they leave it out in the open where anyone could steal it
  • They left several people’s confidential information out in the open, also available for stealing

Additional things that suck about US Airways:

  • They charge you if you have ANY checked bags.
  • They charge you for a can of pop or a bottle of water on the plane.
  • They don’t have any food at all on their plane. Not even the over-priced crappy sandwiches or bags of chips that other airlines carry.

In conclusion, I will never, ever fly US Airways again and you shouldn’t either.  I feel lucky to have arrived home alive after that trip, quite frankly.

1In fairness, this desk was also for a few other airlines and there were forms from people who flew on Air Transat & Continental sitting on the desk as well. So whoever had been at that desk for all those airlines totally sucks. And I bet it was a US Airways employee.
2One hour of them fixing our plane in Phoenix, waiting to go to Cabos; seven hours waiting for our plane in Cabos as they had to replace two non-functional planes in a row; about a two hour detour to Tucson because our flight was so late that we couldn’t clear Immigration in Phoenix; one hour of them “straightening up the paperwork” waiting to leave Phoenix to get to Vancouver; plus having to stay overnight in Phoenix
3Ironically, the only flight segment of our entire journey that didn’t have a delay was our originally scheduled Phoenix to Vancouver flight, which we missed because we were still in Cabos. It left Phoenix right on time.



et cetera