Hawaii vacation blogging – Return – Phil Fontaine – Air Canada

Phil Fontaine - executive leader and Chief of the First Nations Assembly of CanadaOur return flight from Honolulu was at 10:45 PM On Sunday last… Andrea and I arrived at around 8, planning on chilling and exploring the lovely airport. Checking in at the Air Canada kiosk, we were informed quite gently by one of the gals that there was some snow in Vancouver and that the flight had been delayed getting out. So we were to be delayed. Initially the board showed about 1 AM. Then it moved quickly to 3 AM. Then 5 AM.

But the flight was never canceled – and I never doubted it would be. And maybe it was the culmination of a quietly creeping sleepiness that softened my nerves – I do not know. Either way, I was calm the whole time.

We got through the TSA Check-points effortlessly, like all the other TSA check-points at the other airports – coming to, in and around the Islands.

Truth be told, the TSA is brilliant. I have never had a problem. I do not anticipate ever having a problem with the TSA – and they were good-natured as heck – making the experience as seamless and painless as humanly possible.

American customs are typically more human and gentle than their Canadian counterparts.

Example: I am passing through TSA at Kona-Keahole Airport. My camera bag, bristling with unusual electronics and gadgets – more than enough to get a command module to the moon, catches their attention. The officer holds it up and asks, “Can I look at this again, please?”

Why sure officer. “What you got in here, Camera equipment?”

“No problem… have a great day… safe travels…”

Yea. Pretty much it.

When officially crossing into America from Canada, a youthful male Customs officer commented as Andrea and I approached… “Hey! You two… Holding hands! My wife stopped holding hands with me 3 days after we got married!”

Welcome to America. Have a nice stay.

Back to Honolulu again. We wandered slowly around the International Departure area and finally found our tentative gate – there were few people there by 9 PM – having obviously figured out that they were not going anywhere… anytime soon.

Who I did notice almost right away was Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada, Phil Fontaine (Photo above) sitting and reading quietly.

Being who I am; inquisitive, curious, bold, annoying…
I wandered up and asked: “Are you Phil Fontaine?”
“Yes, “ he volunteered…
“It is… an honor… Sir. I am humbled to meet you… having followed your illustrious career all these years…
“And you are?” He countered…

Honestly, I think I said I was nobody. The mere fact that we had one of Canada’s most important and influential people… in our departure gate… flying Economy no less (Yes, he WAS flying Economy…) that I knew everything was going to be fine. He and I had several opportunities to talk story – but I tried not to impose. Andrea got the thrill of a lifetime meeting up with him as well. Our conversations about current political things were candid, open and at times, illuminating – And ALL off the record thank-you very much (so if you are a journalist reading this, do not bother e-mailing me for details…)

Anyway – that is part one of the story. More to follow!