Political parties will seek every advantage while hauling the press corps around during a campaign, especially if a simple seat choice, mid-afternoon snack or destruction of the in-flight copy of Gigli can win a smile or two from frazzled reporters. The leading parties in the Canadian election have pulled out the stops when choosing airplane charters, as the Calgary Herald tells us:
The Planes: [The Liberals have] a Starjet aircraft that is usually chartered by professional sports teams. It features extra wide leather seats and tolerant, if slightly cool, flight attendants ...
Air Canada pulled out all the stops for the Conservatives, deploying the friendliest flight attendants in the aviation world backed by food far superior to the mush served on any airline I've flown. And, bonus, they awarded media full Aeroplan points for kilometres travelled.
The Globe and Mail crunches the numbers, and points out the drawback in choosing the Starjet:
Consider the math: If the [Conservatives] fly about 1,600 kilometres a day for 36 days, that's 36,000 points, enough for a free flight within Canada, the United States and Mexico.
... The Martin Liberals opted for Starjet's plane because it contained its own set of stairs, allowing Mr. Martin to get into smaller airports that don't have portable stairs to be wheeled up to it.
So far, however, the Martin team has relied on Air Canada for a second set of stairs, allowing Mr. Martin to exit while the reporters -- who don't qualify for Aeroplan points -- exit from the rear on the integrated stairs. What a perk!
Remember those flights back in the 70s, when you were asked to disembark from the Boeing 727 by the rear stairs? Remember how cool it was, as a kid, to walk around the fuel truck, baggage trains and the exhaust from the engines on your way to the terminal? I'm willing to bet tired reporters don't find it that cool.
Oh - and the Aeroplan points? Let's all remember Air Canada has been in receivership for almost a year. Better book those flights soon!