VIP Treatment: Flying On An NHL Team Jet
Saturday, September 27, 2008

As I write this I am sitting on an Air Canada flight to Los Angeles to switch the telecast of a pre-season hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks tomorrow.

It has me thinking about five days ago (September 22) when I had flown to Edmonton to switch the game there between Vancouver and Edmonton. The flight to Edmonton was a Westjet flight. But after the game, I flew on the Canucks' charter plane back to Vancouver.

Because the flight to Edmonton was a commercial flight, I was departing Vancouver International Airport. Since I was actually working for the Canucks (as opposed to a Mobile TV company or network) I was told to bring my car to the valet at the airport and they'd be expecting me. "Just tell them you're with the Canucks. They know you're coming," I was told.

Not to mention: I had been told that, because it was game day, I was required to wear a suit and tie on the team's charter flight home. So, I just flew to Edmonton in the suit and tie.

Basically after flying to Edmonton and working the broadcast of the hockey game. (dressed up more than I usually was and my colleagues in Edmonton poked fun at me) Paul Brettell, the Canucks' TV director, Greg Shannon, the producer and I) were rushed on to a bus that drove us straight to Edmonton International Airport, on to the tarmac to the foot of the plane. No security. No need to check in. No ticket. Essentially, we just stepped off the bus, and up the stairs to the plane.

Once I was up the stairs into the plane, you could already smell food. There were various snack foods, nuts and wraps out for players, coaches and media types to help themselves to. After finding a seat, Paul (who was seated beside me) and I ordered glasses of wine. Now, normally on a flight you get one of those tiny bottles and a little tiny glass. They brought us those cups you'd normally serve beer in at a BBQ and filled it with red wine.

Shortly after take-off (in which my wine nearly took a header off the tray table which they didn't make me put into it's up-and-locked position) they served a full meal. There was a choice between Southwest Chicken or Lasagna.

Since most of the players seemed to need the protein from the chicken, (ie they ate it all) I could only get lasagna. Seeing as I had (what they claim is) lasagna for dinner at The Fireside in Edmonton, I could only hope it was better than that or even typical airline food. It exceeded my expectations, half-decent lasagna served on real plates, with real cutlery and cloth napkins. Not to mention the small piece of cheesecake and ice cream afterwards.

I didn't even get to finish my wine before we landed. Upon exiting the plane at the South Terminal in Vancouver, I looked down and saw a whole lot of SUVs, BMWs and Mercedes parked on the tarmac. I thought, "Wow, these players have it good!"

It wasn't until I was at the bottom of the stairs and wandering aimlessly through the plethora of gas-guzzlers that I finally noticed that my dented, 11 year-old Chevy Cavalier was among them. In fact, it was the first car at the bottom of the stairs and so close to the plane that the tip of the left wing was hovering vicariously over the trunk of my car. I can't believe I walked right by the damn thing!

Now THAT is service. A great flight, no waiting at security, no fussing with parking and my car was sitting at the base of the stairs of the plane waiting for me. Did I mention is was already started and warmed up for me?

I should have taken a picture.

Hey Paul, if you're reading this, I'll work for the Canucks out of town ANYTIME!


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