There aren’t many experiences more frustrating than being stuck on a runway. The wait to be taxied to a terminal, unable to play on your phone or leave your seat thanks to the angry, authoritarian glow of the fasten-seat-belt sign, always feels like it lasts hours - even if it only takes a few minutes. When it actually does last for hours, the situation is dire enough to send anyone doolally.
In such circumstances, it can be easy for passengers to assume that they are the only ones getting irritated. However, it turns out that being grounded is just as annoying for the cabin crew as it is for everyone else. Ordinarily, professionalism forces them to grin and bear it. But, as the actions of a heroic Air Canada pilot have proven this week, sometimes the picture is so bleak that an extreme response is warranted.
On Monday March 4th, a short flight from Toronto was scheduled to arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, around two hours after taking off. However, thanks to unpredictable Canadian weather conditions, the plane was forced to divert off course, landing instead at an airfield in Fredericton, New Brunswick. This left passengers and crew stranded, hours from their ultimate destination, with no way of getting back on track.
Hours past. Everyone was getting increasingly prickly. Important appointments were being missed. Tummies were starting to rumble. It was in this moment, rather than let the whole cabin descend into a Lord of the Flies-style fight for survival, the captain took the executive and intrepid decision to throw the airline emergency handbook out the window and order takeaway pizza for everyone on board.
Once the crew were in accord, the captain immediately got on the blower to local eatery, “Minglers Restaurant and Pub”. The Oromocto-based business are used to catering to large groups, and even have a specialist division set up for such occasions. However, even for this experienced team, the request for aeroplane pizza came as something of a surprise.
In an interview with CNN, manager Jofee Larivée revealed that, after she had accepted the order and informed the crew that the food would be with them in around 90 minutes, she and her staff were “laughing all night” at the absurdity of the situation. However, true to their word, they got the job done.
Much to their relief, the passengers were soon tucking into 23 pizzas, each topped with either pepperoni or cheese. Judging by their reaction, it’s clear that the food was extremely welcome. Passenger Philomena Hughes told CBC News that, "It was something that could have been very stressful; he made it a lot easier," adding, "there was lots of help, there were a couple of Air Canada Jazz pilots that were traveling on the plane and they were helping to pick up the pizza and distribute it. Everybody chipped in, so he didn't want to take the whole credit for himself." At the very least, Air Canada have proven that not every airport hold up has to be a horrible experience.