Discovering Gate 1 at YMM

I've had the good fortune of using our new Fort McMurray International Airport a number of times since it opened in June.  I enjoy many things about it:  the spacious parking, shopping options and large departure lounge.  It's also such a treat to have access to some food choices.  I had missed lunch yesterday and needed to get something to assuage my hunger pangs, but didn't have enough time to sit down in one of the restaurants.  Instead, I selected a tasty grab and go sandwich from Earls, which was quite tasty.

The flight I was catching was being boarded out of Gate 1.  According to the directional sign that I saw, the gate was somewhere down on the far end of the departures level.  All that was there however, was a big number 2, where a flight to Toronto was loading.  I wandered all the way down to the other end to see if I could find the missing gate -- no luck.

"Passengers traveling on Air Canada Express Flight 8387 will be boarding out of Gate 1 which can be accessed through the glass doors at the end of the departures lounge, across from Gate 2," said the announcer.

The small group of passengers went through the doors, down a set of stairs and into a small holding area.  I had absolutely no idea there was an additional gate on the lower level, complete with its own waiting area, reminiscent of our old terminal.  I felt excited that I was discovering yet another thing new and unexpected about this spectacular facility.

While we were waiting, I observed a passenger expressing his annoyance with the gate attendant over the flight being slightly delayed.  The fellow, concurrently anxious about wanting to catch a connecting flight in Edmonton and have a smoke, decided to let his inside voice out.

As I sat there watching this guy berate the attendant for no good reason and in a manner that I felt was completely inappropriate, I thought about the fact that the airport is one place that you don't see zero tolerance signs regarding abuse.  At least, I don't remember ever seeing them. I'm sure there are laws that preclude that from happening, as it could be a house of cards when anxiety mounts during flight interruptions and delays.  But, I felt bad for the attendant who was just trying to do his job.

"The flight is slightly delayed because of de-icing that had to take place in Edmonton," he offered to the impatient traveller.

"You mean that it's snowing in Edmonton?" the guy asked.

"Sir, I'm just doing my job.  It is the airport authority that manages the boards."

The fellow was upset because the electronic departures board was showing Flight 8387 as being on time.  It wasn't.  Had the board shown "Delayed", he would have been able to duck outside for an extra puff or two.

In an extra loud voice, the guy made a show of calling someone in Edmonton to ask for a weather update.

"Is it snowing in Edmonton?" he bellowed.  "No?  OK, thanks."

It was an awkward moment for all of the rest of us that were content to roll with the punches.  While I'm guessing this is not a rare occurrence, it is still unfortunate that airport personnel are subjected to this kind of abuse with little to no recourse.

Aside from that brief moment of friction, it was overall a delightfully smooth experience using our new terminal, a fantastic contributor to an increased quality of life in our region.


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