>Please bear with me


Whenever I steal harvest mirabelles from abandoned trees out in the fields, I always think of Gunter O. Eser.

Aka Gunter Zero by his staff when he was IATA Director General.
And Gunter Null by the rest of us when he was on the Executive Board at Lufthansa.

Mirabel used to be the international airport in Montreal. MILES out in the woops, took ages and a day to get there and not exactly the buzzingest – people used to call it Tinkerbelle” – place.

I was doing some hazardous cargo stuff with IATA at the time and – given that Lufthansa didn’t fly there daily – the only option was to get on the flight that came in from Frankfurt and flew on to Toronto and fly back on the same flight. (You can do that if you’re a) IATA Director General or b) on business travel for the airline.

So we both front up at the Lufthansa Station Manager’s office at Tinkerbelle, he checks us in, gives us our boarding cards (Gunter Null – obviously – First Class, me Business) and off we toddle through an absolutely deserted airport (it supposedly wakes up in the early evening for the transatlantic departures) to passport control.

No-one there.

Obviously. No flights.

Station Manager gets on the blower to Immigration who are JUST NOT INTERESTED until he says “Listen, we’ve got the TOP GUY of all the airlines in the world here and (promoting me 18 years before I actually did reach that exalted level) a Lufthansa Director. They’re entitled to fly on this flight and if you refuse to process them, I’ll have REAL difficulty keeping this out of the papers…”

In the distance, we see an Immigration officer scurrying over towards us at great speed, waving his stamp.

Zip out to the aircraft in a ramp van, scuttle up the stairs to a moderately gob-smacked crew (this doesn’t happen every day, believe me), Gunter Null turns left towards the sharp end, I turn right towards the blunt end and away we go.

Fill out the immigration documentation for Toronto which pretty much says that I haven’t really come from anywhere and I’m leaving in about an hour.

Much confusion at Immigration (this doesn’t happen every day, believe me), finally get allowed in (although I haven’t actually LEFT Canada) and who do I meet at check-in, but my mate Gunter Null.

He’s (obviously) checking in at he First Class desk and I’m (obviously) slumming it at the Business Class desk but he says to the Station Manager (who’s hovering around close to him) “Oh, I’d like you to meet Mr jb, one of your senior managers from Frankfurt”

Station Manager takes a look at my boarding pass, tears it up (I think he might be related to MMTP…) and gives one of those flash red ones.

I nod my appreciation to Gunter Null, who’s spirited away to the lounge or wherever and then it’s onto the flight, have some champagne, Mr jb, some more caviar, Mr jb? and Gunter Null strolls past and says “A bit more pleasant at the sharp end, don’t you think?”

Too right, mate.

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