You Won’t Believe Who Sat Next To Me On The Plane!

Departing Toronto Pearson
You never know....Image via Wikipedia

I received an email last week from my very distant past.

A young girl was traveling from a Canadian city to a European one with her Dad while he was to speak at a conference. We were airplane seatmates with an ocean to cross and many hours to fill.

It was March 1980, and I know the exact date because I was 20 and about to begin a life-changing four-month solo trip through Portugal, Italy, France and Spain.

This week, she wrote to me — having seen my New York Times wedding announcement, thanks to her Dad — despite her current job in a dangerous Mideastern location. How cool to be remembered, and fondly, and to re-establish a connection. For I remembered her also very well.

My mom met the King of Belgium on one of her flights and I shared one journey with Canadian celebrity Rick Mercer, although not sitting beside him.

Her email made me remember a few other intriguing in-flight seatmates:

An assistant coach for the Toronto Argonauts and a team member, his thighs as thick and solid as tree trunks, on an Air Canada flight from Winnipeg to Vancouver. I was as intrigued about life in the major leagues as the coach was about the life of a writer.

A devastatingly handsome Welsh engineer, azure-eyed, deeply-tanned, living in Khartoum, flying from Dublin to Bristol on Christmas Eve to visit his Mom as I was flying there to visit mine. Instead, smitten, we ran off together for a few days driving the foggy hills and valleys of Wales.

The gentle physician on my flight from Newark to Vancouver last year as I faced the hideous task, without any family help, of putting my mother into a nursing home once I arrived. The man, who turned out to know a colleague of mine, trains other doctors in how to care for the dying. He offered powerful words of advice as we began our descent.

On a flight from Minneapolis to New York, my seatmate was a senior executive for a television network. I mentioned an idea to him that I had for a show — and he liked it enough to give me his card and ask me to pitch him. I’ve since assembled some of the necessary pieces, so we’ll see what happens.

Who has been your most interesting airplane seatmate?

When and where did you meet? Did you stay in touch?

The Middle Seat, Between Two Pro Football Players — That's My Kind Of Air Travel!

Toronto Argonauts quarterback Kerry Joseph pre...
The Argos in action...Image via Wikipedia

So I’m sitting in the departure lounge for an Air Canada flight from Toronto to Winnipeg. I notice a lot of very good-looking men in the room.

Very large good-looking men, several who walk with that distinctive sort of stroll that marks a very skilled, very confident athlete.

Turns out I was sharing the Airbus 320 with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts, off to play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their second game of the season.

Not flying business class, not flying charter. In with us civilians!

I sat beside one of the coaches, a former player, who at 37 is considered old. (!) On the other side was a player whose thighs were the size and consistency of tree trunks. As I can be a nervous flyer, this was a lovely surprise.

How could I be nervous when surrounded by row upon row of testosterone and muscle?

I did wonder briefly, if the plane crashed and we all perished, if I might make it into a footnote of history — “Football Team Lost….and Writer.”

The coach was intensely curious about the life of a writer and I was intensely curious about the life of a pro athlete. And what did we have in common? What else?

Orthopedic surgeries! Another person to whom the phrase “bone on bone” means something. We traded notes on our meniscus repairs. Fun!

Two of my favorite movies, ever, are football movies: Any Given Sunday and North Dallas Forty. Which, for a woman who has yet to even see a live football game, is a little odd.

Air Canada Considers Nut-Free Buffer Zones — Maybe Not The Sort We Most Want

Air Canada A319 C-FYJG
Nut-free? Image by BriYYZ via Flickr

Is this as crazy as it sounds? Air Canada is considering nut-free buffer zones on airplanes.

Reports The Toronto Star:

Air Canada said it is willing to create “nut-free” buffer zones on its flights to accommodate passengers with severe nut allergies.

Passengers with allergies would simply be required to notify the airline 48 hours before they intend to travel to be seated in the buffer zone, Air Canada wrote in a proposal released Tuesday by the federal Canadian Transportation Agency.

Air Canada’s submission is a response to a recommendation made by the federal agency in early January to have a buffer zone on its airplanes, after two passengers complained about the inconsistent and difficult experiences they faced when they asked the airline to accommodate their severe nut allergies.

The airline agreed to the idea of a buffer zone, but said that the zone would not necessarily be on every flight, and would only be created when required.

The buffer zone would consist of the seats immediately adjacent to the passenger with allergies, and the bank of seats in front and behind the passenger. Other passengers in the area would be notified and would be invited “to refrain from consuming” nut products.

“If after the briefing there is objection from other passengers sitting in the buffer zone, the flight crew would try, if possible, to reseat passengers,” according to the proposal submitted to the CTA on Friday, after a 30-day deliberation period.