Sean Spicer at the White House and Angela Mah, spokesperson for Air Canada, hold jobs similar to the shovel-carrying clown at the end of a Calgary Stampede parade: cleaning up messes left by others.
Mah’s latest mess resulted when a despotic flight attendant on a flight from Halifax to Calgary barred a three-year-old from making an urgent visit to the closest washroom.
“I can’t have you coming up here any more,” she said, refusing to let the grandmother and the child squeeze past her service cart.
The grandmother explained the Halifax agent who helped book their five-and-a-half-hour flight had arranged for her and her recently potty trained granddaughter to sit close to the business class washroom just in case such a scenario might arise.
But the explanation swayed the flight attendant not a whit.
It had been 15 years since grandma flew with a toddler. She had not brought along diapers nor a change of clothing for the tot just in case. Consequently the girl rode the last three hours of the flight sitting in a wet diaper and clothing.
Given all the bad press Air Canada has brought down upon itself in recent months with their disregard for passengers’ comfort and convenience — bumping passengers who booked flights months in advance, cancelling flights for no logical reason, causing athletes to lose training time — I’d expect flight crews to be more diplomatic.
Certainly the airline has had weeks to retrain staff to better serve the public.
Interviewed by CBC after this tot’s story surfaced, Gabor Lukacs, a Halifax-based airline passenger advocate says staff should be able to use discretion. “Something has to change here. Safety is very important, but where do we draw the line between restrictions for the sake of safety and insanity. Those powers to direct passengers are given to crew for the purpose of safety, not for the purpose of making passengers wet themselves.”
My observation is cabin crew with gentler ways and less overt ego still achieve the desired result while maintaining goodwill for the airline.
On a flight home from Vancouver two four-year-old girls sat rows apart on opposite sides of the aisle. One with her Mom and baby brother, the other beside a woman who lived in Kitwanga.
Each girl had the usual toys to occupy her – stuffed animal, crayoning book. Still, restlessness surfaced soon after the flight attendant collected all the trays.
The girls squirmed, began peeking at each other over seat backs.
That’s when the woman brought out an honest-to-goodness drum and two drumsticks and offered it to the girl beside her.
Without a word of direction from anyone, the two kids quickly converged on the drum in the aisle, each chose a drumstick, and began tentatively tapping on the drum’s skin.
Now I’d bet, “Keep aisle free of obstructions at all times” is a cabin rule for sound reason.
If so, the flight attendant would have been within her rights to order the girls into a seat rather than blocking the aisle. But she didn’t.
Instead she relaxed on a bulkhead seat to enjoy the impromptu concert, a smile on her face to match that of the charmed adults up and down the aisle.
By allowing the two girls to amuse each other yet not disturb anyone the Mom could concentrate on caring for the little brother, no passenger was annoyed or buffeted, as the girls drummed us into Terrace airport.
What a difference another first class washroom visit on that flight to Calgary would have made for the three-year-old’s comfort and Air Canada’s reputation.