Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Jet Age

After all these years of traveling around the globe, I thought I had heard all of the excuses that the commercial airlines use for flight delays. You know, bad weather, faulty equipment, pilots strike, rabid passenger, geese, etc. So, on my way home from my Auntie's funeral over the weekend this came up. SeaTac airport Seattle, clear-ish day there and clear in NYC despite various rain/snowstorm combinations, but no plane at the gate. A natural assumption, in that part of the world, is that the connecting flight was late leaving Anchorage, Juneau, or some other northern oasis. Approaching the scheduled 8AM departure time, an announcement was made changing the departure to 9AM. No worries and no explanation given, but this was to be expected.

At about 9AM, the airline clerk at the desk gets on the PA, and very hesitantly says this :

"We are sorry for the delay, but the plane is stuck in the mud."

I am not making this up.

Everyone exploded in laughter. The clerk continued, stifling her own laughter and incredulity, "The tractors are still trying to pull the plane out of the mud. After the plane has been pulled out of the the mud, it will need to be inspected and certified flight ready, then it will need to be cleaned in preparation for boarding. We estimate a departure time at 1PM. Normally, (a stifled chuckle) we have enough gates here to hold planes overnight, but with all the snow back east, we had to tow the plane to our remote storage facility. We apologise for the inconvenience, and will keep you posted."

My question is this - Whose cornfield did they tow this plane to? And what was the parking charge??

Don't people understand that modern commercial jetliners are heavy, even without people and luggage in them. So, in a squishy part of the world, i.e. Seattle, it would be natural for something this massive to sink up to the axles in soft, rain soaked, muddy soil? But hey, what do I know, I'm not a mechanic; planes fly, so they must be light, right??

Word of this spread like wildfire throughout the airport. All of the other nearby airlines were chuckling and gloating.

I told this story to a old family friend who was an ace combat pilot in Korea, flew the entire Boeing fleet for United Airlines for 32 years before retiring, and now flies antique bi-planes. In all his years, he had never head his one; he was apoplectic. With a lifetime in the skies, even he had never seen this.

 Needless to say, the flight was cancelled. And the next day, they had two planes leaving within 30 minutes of each other going to NYC to accomodate the spillover. And they both left on time and arrived early.

Here's mud in yer eye.

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