Recently our import / export class took a trip to Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport to see the world of airfreight shipping first hand. Our tour guide, Little Bill (who is over 6 feet but he is smaller than Big Bill), showed us around the warehouse and the office, giving us details on how the day runs and what is expected by the company and its partners. For example, Bill talked to us about the importance of weighing and double checking everything because, “If we make a mistake or don’t check something, we are putting lives at risk.”
After explaining to us the importance of balancing the weight on a plane, (so one end isn’t dragging while the other is skyrocketing) he told us stories about the weird stuff that has come through his warehouse. Bill was proud to say that he successfully shipped a polar bear and a crate full of monkeys. I would have given anything to see that transaction from start to finish.
As the tour continued, Bill showed us a few sections where special goods were put aside. One section was labeled dangerous goods. Bill claimed that they ship everything, but they need to take special care when shipping items that could cause hazards. We saw a couple of buckets labeled explosives which came as a shock because we all thought explosives were prohibited on all aircraft. Bill told us that explosives are only shipped on freight airplanes – never on commercial flights. The explosives turned out to be flairs, and Bill told us another story about and accident in the dangerous goods section and how a buddy of his got super concentrated soap on his hands. He was completely fine, but apparently his hands would soap up when he washed them, even after a good ten hours!
Our tour ended in the back of the office where he explained to us all the complex paperwork that goes along with air freight shipping. As if that wasn’t enough, Bill also told us about how they had to manage the paperwork of all the truckers dropping off cargo to be shipped. It gets so bad sometimes that Bill has needed to step in and break up conflicts between his staff and the drivers.
It was a great visit and it really solidified what we have been learning about in the classroom. It’s nice to have the opportunity to see what we’re learning about in action.
– Written by Zachary Agostine, Marketing Major + Game Producer, Spring 2013