Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From the flight deck

7:40 a.m.: Boy and mom get up for a day of travel. Mom knows boy will have to skip/push back morning nap to make today work out. This is not an enticing prospect.

10:10 a.m.: Boy, mom and grandmom L start their two-hour drive to the airport with an amazingly kind soul willing to pack two huge suitcases and a stroller in a car with two and a half passengers for a 100-mile drive. Halfway to Milwaukee from Small Town, WI, boy melts down. Roadside nursing is applied to the situation. Boy ungraciously concedes and finally falls asleep once the group is back on the road.

Noon: Boy, mom and L arrive at the airport (which is torn up, as it is undergoing construction. Of course.). Having only snoozed for 25 minutes, boy protests loudly through most of the check-in process. ONCE AGAIN, mom's shoes cannot be wanded, and she must take them off to run them through the x-ray machine while wearing boy, and juggling a stroller, a diaper bag brimming with essentials, a small ziploc bag of liquids/gels, and a camera bag.

1:30 p.m.: Mom sneaks away for a restroom break. Boy is fed a bananas/apples/pears combination of food in his stroller. Mom and L grab a sandwich and prepare to board the plane for the 2:20 flight. All passengers board, and hear the captain speak.
Folks, from the flight deck -- looks like we've got a two-hour, forty-seven minute flight ahead of us. The weather at our destination is stormy -- we might be delayed a bit. We'll keep you posted. 
2:45 p.m.: Flight finally takes off. 

3:15 p.m.: Mom looks at her watch and realizes that though she has now sung every nursery rhyme she has ever heard of, shown boy every toy packed in his bag, and bounced him on her knee for-seemingly-ever, she still has two hours of travel time left before the scheduled arrival at 5:10 p.m.. A headache begins to form between her eyes.

4:30 p.m.: Knowing the arrival time is near, mom and L await the anticipated announcement that the plane is beginning its initial descent to the destination airport. This announcement never comes.

5:00 p.m.: Mercifully, boy falls asleep for 40 minutes.

5:35 p.m.: Now well past their arrival time, the plane's passengers are starting to get antsy. The plane is still cruising well above the clouds and has made a number of noticeable turns and swoops. The captain speaks.
Folks, from the flight deck -- we're hearing that the storm over the airport is pretty bad, and all flights are being placed in holding patterns until the weather clears. Unfortunately, we're low enough on fuel now that we need to divert and get a little more fuel before we can head in to our original destination. So we'll be on the ground in Lake Charles, Louisiana in about 20 minutes. Once we get there, we'll need to get our paperwork done again, refuel, get clearance to take off, and then we'll be back on track. We're looking at a delay of at least an hour, here.
5:36 p.m. (estimated): Cabin air conditioning is (presumably) turned off, (presumably) to save fuel. Fuel is likely indeed saved. Passenger comfort is not.

6:00 p.m.: Flight lands in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cabin temperature is noticeably warm.

6:09 p.m.: 
Folks, uh, from the flight deck -- Typically in refuel situations, we aren't able to allow you all to deplane. We'll check with the tower and see what the status is here, but it's likely that we'll all need to stay aboard while we refuel. I'll let you know what the tower tells us. For now, please stay seated with your seat belts fastened.
6:20 p.m.: Overheard in the cabin: "Why's this airport look like it's been trashed?" "Because it was. It was hit by Hurricane Ike a few weeks ago."

6:45 p.m.: Passengers fan themselves with safety pamphlets. The seven children on the plane are mostly stripped down to diapers to prevent overheating. The one flight attendant on board completes a third round of beverage service.
Folks, from the flight deck -- Well, as some of you may have guessed, and as those of you sitting in the rear of the plane are probably well aware, the lav toilet is getting pretty full. With the airport in its current state, we haven't yet found a way to get that tank emptied -- there's just nowhere to dispose of the waste at this time. What I'd suggest is, if you could, you might want to, um, hold it for the time being, if that's possible. If you really need to use the facilities, it's best not to flush since that may cause an overflow. We're working on getting this plane back in the air, so sit tight and we appreciate your patience.
7:00 p.m.: Overheard in rear of cabin ... mother carrying child approaches lav. 

Mother: "Is this the line?" 
Other passenger: "No. It's all full back there, though. I don't think you want to try." 
Mother: "Seriously? Because my daughter really needs to go." 
Passenger: "Well ... I've got a diaper that she can use if that'll help." 
Mother [exasperated]: "Yeah, well, the thing is, she doesn't just have to pee." 
Passenger: "Ah. I see. [Pause.] Well, we've got diaper wipes too ... "
Mother: "I think we'll just give it a shot back there. Thanks, though."

7:10 p.m.
Folks, uh, from the flight deck -- I've got some good news. We've got our paperwork done, and the fuel truck is hooking up to the plane right now. So that's a lot of good news, actually. We do still need to get clearance to leave, and we're behind two other planes right now, so we may still be here a while. I just talked to the pilot of the plane behind us, though, and they've got a staircase wheeled up to their door, just like we do. If anyone needs to use the facilities, he's offered to allow passengers to use the lav on that plane. Wave at the flight attendant if you want to take him up on that offer, and first mate Jonathan will escort you to the plane behind us.
7:20 p.m.
Folks, from the flight deck again -- Well, I guess it was all going too smoothly. The good news is, the weather's clearing up at our destination, so the tower there is allowing inbound flights to approach and land. Only problem is that the backlog of diverted aircraft is pretty substantial, so the inbound flights are taking up all available runways and gates for the time being. So we HAD our clearance for a few minutes but it was just revoked. Tower tells us it'll be at least another 30 minutes. ... I did order pizza, though, so maybe we can eat. Now, I don't know if it'll get here before we get our clearance again ... but I'll just let you decide which outcome you want to wish for -- departure or dinner. I guess at least, if it's not here in 30 minutes, it's free, right?
7:35 p.m.:
Flight deck here, folks -- the tower tells us that with the lengthy delay, they'll allow passengers to deplane to use the terminal restrooms. Keep in mind, though, that you'll need to go through security again, so take your boarding pass and photo ID with you, please. Um, it's a bit of a hike, though. You should know that the metal detectors aren't working, so every passenger would need to be wanded by handheld wands, which can take a little longer than usual. And if you're not all on board, we might miss a chance to depart if we get clearance in a hurry. But if you need to go, we'll be opening up the door again so you can deplane.
A full two-thirds of the passengers on board elect to deplane. 

8:05 p.m.: Pizza arrives. Overheard in the cabin: "Pizza's here." "Yeah, that's great. Only problem is, the captain's serving it."

8:15 p.m.: 
Folks, flight deck here again -- Looks like we're in line for departure now. We've got clearance and we're refueled. Sit tight and we'll have you on the way home in no time.
8:45 p.m.: Flight finally takes off, leaving Lake Charles, Louisiana.

9:20 p.m.: Flight arrives at destination, more than four hours after scheduled arrival time. Babies and parents all over the plane spill forth to rush home to bed.

9:45 p.m.: Luggage is collected and mom, boy and L are all loaded into the car by an incredibly patient mom's brother, D. D consoles mom who is Just. Done. With. It. All. D wipes up tears, supplies Sprite for the motion-sick among the travelers and drives the tired group home.

11 p.m.: Boy is in bed for the night, over four and a half hours after his regular bedtime and having skimped on naps all day. Mom collapses as well, swearing never to fly again.

4 comments:

screamy mimi said...

Oh. My. Gosh. What a nightmare!!!!! That is just about AWFUL!!!!

RitaJeane said...

I am in so much pain for you right now! You amaze me!

married yoshimi said...

holy cow! what an ORDEAL!! I felt hot just reading it!

Sarah said...

Oh, my lord. My friend, if you can make it through that and keep your sanity, however by-a-thread you keep it, you can do anything.