The trip out from camp was true to form. I think if they just had a paid, secured parking lot fifteen minutes from the camp gate it might have tipped my decision to stay. I don't mind being incarcerated in one of the nicest minimum security prisons in the world, but the hassle of getting to and from it when you are not economically desperate was a bit too much. But I digress.
Mikisew is Cree for eagle. Mikisew Air didn't quite soar with the eagles and was permanently grounded a couple of years ago. Its hanger has new life as a private air terminal. Surmont 2 workers are funneled through this terminal on their way to and from home. The spirit of the turkey must still haunt its walls, however. My first act of retirement after I caught up on my sleep after sleeping only four hours a night in camp was to send the following to the Surmont 2 people. Hopefully they will pass it on. Even if they don't the rant was cathartic.
As the plane landed in Edmonton the Pilot announced "Sorry we're late arriving in Edmonton. We were delayed in loading at Fort McMurray. That usually happens to us there. I don't know why.” He was being polite. Anybody who has travelled through the former Mikisew Air terminal has a pretty good idea.
Passengers are handed boarding passes of various colours, including different shades of the same colour. Then they are put in one large room and allowed to mix and mingle and clump near the doors. They are sent out to the airplanes at the same time through fewer doors than airplanes. Once on the airplane the passengers fill the seats closest to the front of the plane first. This blocks the aisle, slowing down the entry of the passengers that will sit in the rear rows.
What possibly could go wrong with that process?
Here are some modest suggestions:
1. Only issue boarding cards of different colours. Do not hand out different hues of the same colour or shades that can be confusing. Light green looks like yellow if you don’t have a yellow one for comparison. If you are going to keep two shades of green then always announce “light green” or “dark green” never just “green.”
2. Keep people together that have the same colour boarding card. This doesn’t have to be too rigid. A sign on a stanchion with the colour of the card designating the waiting area would do it.
3. Keep people away from the doors until you want them there. Use retractable barriers across the end of the seating areas (designated by colour) to create controllable access to the doors. Retract the barriers as you let passengers head to the doors.
4. Board the airplane rear rows first. If you don’t want to assign seating and board accordingly then have the flight crew direct people to the back rows first.
You have several hundred people who want to get home. You have airplanes that should be in the air. Make it easy for them. You don’t want them still talking about you in a bad way when they get to Edmonton.