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Leavin’ on a jet plane…

I was up early on Saturday morning to spend it with some fine folks at the Winnipeg James Richardson International Airport to participate in the Winnipeg Airports Authority airport trials. Our new airport will open October 31 but before the first plane takes off from the new place, WAA wanted to make sure it was ready for passengers.

A short while ago they put out a call to the public to sign up to be apart of this trial run;  trial run would give you full access to the airport, just as if you were a traveler. Last week I received an email with the instructions for the day – where to park, where to register and where to go after that. It’s pretty exciting. I’ve only flown once (1991 to Disney World with my parents and sister) so I thought it would be fun to help the airport with their trials. Our current airport is old and really outdated. I

It started with registration. Registration was a little unorganized as I was sent to two different places, but eventually was pointed to the right direction. At registration you’re given a folder containing your instructions. I called it a dossier because I felt like I was playing a real life game of Carmen Sandiego. You were given an alias, flight instructions, passport information, departure/arrival information. Some were told to be unruly, a security thread, handicapped, etc. It was really fun!

My name was Pam Gray, I was 41 and from Canada flying to London, England. Wow! Flying to England and back all in two hours! Plus I didn’t have to pay anything for it. The first stop at this trial was check in. It’s so futuristic looking! Instead of a long never-ending counter, it’s single desks.

After check-ins it’s off to drop off your baggage. At the current airport, the counter clerks take your baggage and they place it on the belt themselves, not at the new airport! You take your bag, walk a few feet and drop it on the belt. Baggage handlers are there to help you.

From baggage check it was off to security. It wasn’t your typical security check since this was just a trial; however, you were still ushered through the screeners and had pretend your bag was being searched. After security I headed for my gate…. departures looks so much better in the new airport. It’s bigger and brighter, there’s more stores and restaurants (disappointed that our only TGI Friday’s is in departures). We had to change gates because of a door malfunction, but after that it was a 10 minute wait to simulate a real departure and after we “departed” we also “arrived” (basically went through the gate doors and down to Canada Customs.

Going though Canada Customs was the fastest I have ever been through customs. Too bad I didn’t think to stuff bottles of wine in my bag. Tee hee. Bag pick up was next and then it was off to find my limo driver! Yup, my characters mode of transportation was a limo! Some had a shuttle, a rental car, or even took the city transit. They really though this through and made it fun with everyone.

After participating in this trial run, I now want to fly. I want to pack my suitcase, head to the new airport and go on a trip. It was quite the experience and very fun. As a thank you for participating, the participants were given a commemorative coin and a $5 gift card to use at any concession once the new airport is officially open. I will go to the airport to get free Starbucks. If it’s free, heck yes! Not only did you receive the nice gifts, they also fed you (catered by Red Roof Catering – from Salisbury) with a sandwich, cookie, veggies, macaroni salad, and cheese; coffee, tea and water was provided and they paid for your parking.

Thank you Winnipeg Airport Authority for the opportunity to participate in the trials. I had a blast pretending to be a world traveler and helping you iron out the kinks before the official opening day. The staff were very helpful and very entertaining (thanks to the people at Gate 6!) and made everything very comfortable and enjoyable while we went through the process. It was lovely to meet new people, chatting with fellow passengers and just spending my Saturday morning doing something fun! I highly suggest that if there is a new airport opening in your town and they ask for volunteers to participate in a trial… go for it! It was fun!

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