I flew to Victoria, BC from Vancouver last Friday, and a couple of weird things happened on that flight that reminded me of other interesting plane rides I have taken over the years. So I decided to put together a short compilation of “plane stories” for today’s post.

The shortest flight ever, and apologies to passengers in rows 14 to 19

After my flight had been delayed by 15 minutes, and then a further 15 minutes, the Air Canada attendant at Vancouver airport finally made an announcement: “For those passengers on flight 8071 to Victoria, your aircraft has just arrived. Unfortunately this plane is smaller than the one originally intended, so if you are seated in rows 14 to 19, you do no have a seat on this aircraft. We will have to rebook you on a later flight”. And a little later she added: “However if you don’t mind going to Nanaimo instead, we do have room on that flight.”

Fortunately for me, I was in row 5. The guy seated next to me at the gate wasn’t so lucky. I heard him mutter “I should have driven” as he got up.

Victoria is not very far from Vancouver as the crow flies, but because it sits on an island, the trip between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria by car (or bus) and ferry takes almost four hours.

Once on the plane, the flight attendant perkily announced: “Welcome on flight 8071. Our flight time today will be 10 minutes.” I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly, but then she repeated it in French and sure enough, she said 10 minutes.

A few minutes after take-off, as the plane was levelling off, I got up to go to the washroom and was told to hurry up. Two minutes later the flight attendant knocked on the door to say “You must return to your seat. We’re landing now!” Holy cow.

Being delayed and landing at the wrong airport

Last year I was catching a flight to the beautiful island of Boracay from Manilla airport in the Philippines. The departure time kept being postponed without any explanations. After a couple of hours of waiting and several trips to the desk, it was finally explained that our plane hadn’t arrived yet (some delay in Boracay) and that if was now very likely that it would arrive too late for us to be able to land at Caticlan airport. The runway at Caticlan is too short to land safely after dark. So we ended up landing at Kalibo airport at the other end of the island, requiring an extra two hours of ground transport in a stuffy mini-van.

The landing strip that looked like somebody’s driveway

The San Blas are a group of islands on the Caribbean side of Panama. The fastest way to get there is to fly from Panama City. The landing strip in El Porvenir crosses the small island, and looks like someone’s driveway. There isn’t even an airport building. You just get off the plane, pick up your luggage on the grass, cross the lawn, and have lunch at the nearby restaurant!

El Porvenir landing strip

El Porvenir landing strip

The plane that could be mistaken for a shuttle bus

The planes that fly between Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido in Mexico are very small. I am not talking about Dash-8 propeller planes that sit 30 people. I am talking about a plane the size of a mini bus that sits 7 passengers. Your seat is allocated based on your weight, just like in an helicopter. You have to duck to get inside the plane, and once seated, you can see the pilot and co-pilot ahead of you “driving” the plane.

The old Russian plane

In 1997, I flew from Vietnam to Laos in a small plane that looked like a Russian relic. The seats reminded me of something that would be at home in a doctor’s office, with thin cushions and low backs. The windows were perfectly circular, like the portholes on a boat. The cyrillic characters were a dead give-away that this was a Russian aircraft. Some of the text was in English though, such as the notice pointing to an “escape rope”.

Do you have a strange plane story to share?

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