Can I sit first class with my ... my son?

 * Telling a white lie didn't work to get a seat and a two-hour 1-on-1 with GM Alex Anthopoulos. Joked one opposing GM: "he should have given you his seat and sat in the back -- to get away from you." .... 2014 Top Canadians eligible for draft 2013 Canadians in the Minors  2013 Canadians in College  Letters of Intent


By Bob Elliott

MINNEAPOLIS _ Air Canada’s Toronto-Minneapolis flight 7943 was going to be routine on Thursday afternoon.

Or so I thought.

Get on last as always -- except when Richard Griffin of the Star is on the same flight, he had last-on habit first -- head to my seat and work on the laptop during the two-hour trip.

Walking down the aisle who was reading a newspaper in seat 2-A head down, plugged into his head phones probably listening to George Strait?

None other than Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

“Ahem, excuse me sir .... do you care for anything?” I asked.

Then it sort of went like this ... as I tossed my bag into the overhead across from Anthopoulos. GM: “Are you sitting THERE?”

Me as I plopped down with the grace of an Olympic gymnast: “Maybe.”

GM: “You mean your paper flies you first class?”

Me: “No, they only give me my own plane (well, they did once).”

GM: “I don’t think you can sit there.”

Me: “No problem. I’ve done this before. I’ll sweet talk them.”

GM: “So, you think you are going to have a 1-on-1 interview for two hours?”

Me: “Hopefully.”

With that Anthopoulos’s eyes went glassy imagining the two-hour trip to the Mid-West seaming like a six-hour trip to the coast.

GM: “The flight attendant said only four people were going to be in first class ... and there are four people here.”

Me: “We’ll see.”

Anthopoulos asked if I knew that our Steve Simmons had won this year’s Sport Media Canada award for sportswriting and asked what year I won. Steve McAllister and the good folks there gave me a Lifetime Achievement award in 2008, but “Stephen’s is bigger, it’s sportswriter of the year.”

Once, on American Airlines I flew first class with Jays GM Pat Gillick en route to the winter meetings in Nashville.

And again on American I was with the Montreal Expos GM Bill Stoneman from John Wayne airport in Irvine Calif. to Chicago after the winter meetings in Anaheim.

Oh, oh (cue the dramatic music) here comes the flight attendant.

Flight attendant: “Sir, could I please see your boarding pass.”

Me: “Ah, um I’m in the back, but I’d like to sit here ... with ... with my son.”

It was a Peyton Manning audible which I thought would work.

FA: “You have to upgrade your ticket, I’ll go get the gate agent.”

Well, that didn’t go real well, but she bought the son part seeing the handsome good Greek looks I’d passed down from my Irish ancestors.

I’m 64 this month, my daughter Alicia turned 35 last month, but looks much younger, and son Bob, named after his grandfather, turned 32 last month. Anthopoulos is 36.

This may work.

When my only son moved to Moncton a year ago Labour Day, not that I have been counting the days, I sent out a tweet that I was looking to adopt a son. Someone to help re-program the TV remote and fix the clock at daylight savings time.

Tom Linnemann, 35, a Minneapolis man and ex-quarterback now working in Toronto, was the first to apply.

He sent two chilled Diet Cokes to the hotel room Thursday.

What a good adopted son.

Besides, I’d been told I was a father figure/big brother/grandfatherly type to others in Ottawa and Mississauga.

They were young ‘uns then. They’re adults now.

Men like Bill Courchaine, Phil Franko, Mike Arundel, Don Campbell (still trying to raise him right and it is a daily struggle), Rovin Perumal, Michel Kim, Billy Hurley, Chris Okrainetz, Michael Cardinale, Steven Janetta and others.

Sure, I can pull this off ... I think.

Gate agent: “Yes sir, can I help?”

Me: “Sir, can I upgrade? Or will you let me sit here ... I didn’t know my son was on this flight.”

GA: “Sir, you can’t do that at the last minute, I’m sorry. You’ll have to return to your seat.”

Me, getting up: “OK.”

GM: “Ah, you know that you can’t rip your son in the newspaper.”

No, I’d never knock my son, even a pretend one.

But I can’t wait to get to Target Field on Friday.

The GM could have come back into steerage for a talk to make the trip go quicker.

He could have waited at baggage claim for me.

We could have shared a cab downtown.


They’re all in such a hurry nowadays.

After I left the flight attendant approached the GM and said “sorry we couldn’t allow your father to sit with you.”