Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.22.13
Stanstead, Quebec


When pigs do fly

I can count on one hand the number of trips I've taken by airplane. It helps that I have six fingers, but that's not the point.

The point is that because I'm relatively unjaded, I still approach air travel with a mixture of awe, trepidation, and general mistrust.

There's the awe of flying through the air, the trepidation of suddenly and unexpectedly not flying through the air, and the mistrust of airlines that I also feel for phone and cable companies, car salesmen and "extra" insurance on anything. Essentially, I'm your cranky grandfather sitting in a rocking chair yelling at the TV.

Everything I know about the airline industry, of course, could fit easily in the overhead storage compartment. On the other hand, I have to pay extra to check my second bag of ignorance.

Next month I'm flying to Nova Scotia for my parents' sixtieth anniversary, and I've been putting off booking my flight because they keep fluctuating. For a while, this particular airline -- let's call it Porker Airline -- offered a flight for $320 return. When the sale ended, it jumped to $440. About a week later, the price went down again to $320.

"Will not be extended!" Porker announced on its website. Foolishly, I did not heed their warning, and when this sale ended, the return flight to Halifax jumped to $515!

I felt like such an idiot. But then, quicker than you could say "What happened to $440?" Porker was offering a 50-percent-off sale and we were back at $320.

"It's nothing but a racket!" says my inner old man on the Barcalounger, shaking his fist, even though I'm sure there's a simple business reason for these fluctuations in prices. But the beauty of ignorance is that you get to make up your own reasons.

For example, the original seat sale was probably due to the fact that there was just some weird smell on Porker's entire fleet of planes. No one could quite explain it. No one could quite describe it, for that matter. Kind of a wet dog smell with a hint of no-name-brand fabric softener and cardamom, but not quite. More like a combination of morning breath and cherry Chapstick in a room where someone recently ate mulligatawny soup. No, that's not it either -- it was driving the Porker people crazy!

One plane, sure, but the entire fleet? It turns out that the guys in air traffic control had hidden kitchen-scrap compost in the landing gear of all the planes as a prank, which is another reason why I worry about air safety.

But while Porker was figuring this out, they were forced to sell seats at discount prices.

Porker? Barely flew her!