Thursday, July 11, 2013

Flight 27

I was tired yesterday. Man, was i tired. I had been in New York on a business trip with my boss Heidi and we were both ready to come home. We had been in meetings for 2 days straight and were ready to take our work persona's off and get back to our easy breezy San Francisco lives. We left in plenty of time to make our 4:30 pm flight. We arrived at the airport, took our shoes off, got x-rayed, put our shoes back on and settled in at gate A2 for the hour wait for our flight. And then it began. The night that never ended. Heidi started getting text messages from Virgin airlines that flight 27 out of JFK to SFO was delayed. And delayed. There was a storm on its way up the eastern seaboard and yes, it was headed straight for us. And that wasn't ALL. The crashed airline at SFO from earlier in the week was still on the runway and was being investigated so runways were limited for all incoming flights. The gate agent would give us tiny bits of information about every 20 minutes as the flight's estimated departure grew later and later into the evening. We finally boarded approximately 4 hours later than scheduled. BUT! It was fine. I was excited to get off the ground and head for home. As we taxied out to the runway i got my trashy mags out to read, put my diet coke within reach and got ready for take-off. But the engines started sounding a little odd. Not broken, just sort of...quiet. The pilot came on the loud speaker and told us that he was working with the dudes in the tower to find a path around the storm. Wait, wait wait, i thought. How BIG is this storm? I mean shouldn't we just get off the plane? I didn't want to fly thru the storm of the century! The pilot said they were thinking perhaps a route down south? Or maybe up and over Canada? But they were working it out, not to worry. We'd be on our way soon. Sigh. I tried to calm myself by turning on my little virgin TV screen and watched Million Dollar Listing on Bravo. Time lapsed. At this point we're into the 2nd hour sitting patiently on the tarmac. All the other planes began turning their lights off and shutting down their engines. Another hour goes by. Periodically the pilot would come on the loud speaker and with the most upbeat voice I've ever heard explain that we weren't going anywhere. At this point we're into our 4th hour on the runway and I'm starting to lose it a little. I mean, seriously! Let us off!!!! Heidi had given up and started eating the special bagels she was bringing home to her husband and daughters. And that's when the lady in the last row breaks in half. Almost literally. She was an older woman and either had a medical issue that needed attention or she just plain went bonkers. So here come the Paramedics, fire engines and cop cars screaming across JFK toward flight 27. They had to dig up one of those metal staircases that they wheel out to let the President exit Air Force One. Here they all come! Bounding up the stairs on a mission to save the woman in the back of the plane. And we all wait patiently as they "save her life" and take her off the plane. So now the pilot comes on the loud speaker and tells us that if we want to leave the plane at this point they can bring a bus to our location and take us back to the gate. "But be VERY clear," he told us in a school Principal's voice, "If you get off this plane you CAN NOT get back on. You are on your own." I asked Heidi what she wanted to do. She thought we should stay on the plane. I agreed even though everything in my being wanted to run from the plane and take a god damn train across the country. Since the emergency staff took so long saving the lady we were told that the storm of the century was beginning to dissipate enough for our flight to squeeze thru a window. GREAT! Lets go! But first we need to get the catering truck out here to re-stock. WHAT? Its not like they've been feeding us lobster while we were waiting our 4 hours on the runway! They handed out tiny bottles of water and a cookie. Nobody ate enough to have to re-stock! And so we waited. Then we needed more gas and had to wait for the gas truck to find us. I started sweating and worrying that the magic window in the storm would close! Then i heard the engines fire up! Oh god! Could it be!? Are we really leaving? I wanted to high five the little old Asian lady sitting next to me. She must have had the same thought because she reached her hand out and we shook hands as we silently nodded yes to one another. We lined up behind 9 other stranded airplanes and finally got word from the pilot that indeed we were on our way. So my 6 hour flight home from New York turned into a 16 hour drama-fest. I was literally up for 24 hours. When we finally landed in San Francisco the whole plane erupted into spontaneous applause. I have to admit. I don't want to fly anywhere for a very long time. Next time, I think I'll walk.


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