Just for Fun: The Twilight Zone Flight

Hello everyone:

Yesterday afternoon, I was scheduled to take a flight from Florida to Baltimore. We got on the flight at 5 pm, with a scheduled departure of 5:30. [Sit down and fasten your seat belts.] Well, the departure time came around and we noticed that a technician had boarded our plane because of a seat belt that wouldn’t buckle and a tray table that was unwilling to get into “its full, upright, and locked position.”

The captain came on and told us there would be a “brief delay” while this situation was remedied. In the meantime, we couldn’t have much air conditioning (in Florida, on a hot day) because it would take too much fuel. After about 30 minutes of sweating, the techie left and we backed away from the gate. We thought that, once we were on the tarmac, the take off would be happening shortly. We were wrong.

The next announcement from the captain came a few minutes later. The airport in Baltimore was having weather problems and planes were backed up and in holding patterns all the way to the Carolinas. The good thing was, according to the Man Up Front, that we hadn’t taken off because he didn’t have enough fuel to circle that far away from where he planned on landing and he would have had to “divert the flight.” [Translation: He would have needed to take us somewhere no one on the flight wanted to go and leave us there!]

A collective groan arose from the passengers who then realized that a diversion would still have been better than running out of fuel at 35,000 feet. [Are you seeing a “we-don’t-have-much-fuel-for-this-flight-and-are-you-sure-you-really-want-to-go” theme here?]  A few minutes went by and the captain came back on with “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but air traffic control at BWI has closed the runways so we have another 45 minute delay. On top of the other 45 minute delay. That means we will have 1 1/2 hours to wait and we will need to get more fuel” [I don’t think they refuel domestic commercial flights at 35,000 feet]. His plan was to turn back to the gate, where he promised to let us off the plane. Oops, some other plane was already in our former spot. That’s a no-go, folks.

Five minutes elapsed when he announced “Baltimore is open” – hold on, we’re next in line for takeoff!” [Wait a minute- what about the fuel?] We took off, with the pilot having promised to “fly slowly” so that he could avoid the backup of planes needing to land. [Wait a minute, WHAT ABOUT THE FUEL????]

With a Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of this tale of woe, we landed a couple of hours later…….only to find that all of the gates were full, so we had to park on the tarmac and wait for an empty gate…. and wait…….and wait….. for about 20 more minutes on a warm plane, unable to stand for the last 4 1/2 hours……..

As this story played out to its uncomfortable end, I turned to the man seated across the aisle and asked him if he’d ever seen The Twilight Zone. I informed him that this was the show enacted in real life. They let you on the plane, but they never let you off!

I would love to hear your tale of woe regarding air flight! What has happened to you in the attempt to go where your ticket permitted but the airlines or the weather seemed destined to prevent?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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