Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Give me the Loop, Give me the Loop!

This Memorial Day weekend I flew down to Virginia to see my family. Because of my experience on the flight down, I can come to no other conclusion than I must have done something terrible to upset the airplane g-ds, something so horrendous as to leave me sentenced to a lifetime of crazy plane stories. As if my continuing to get on planes weren't crazy enough.

I had a connecting flight in NY that would have put me in Virginia at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night. The time between flights was so tight that I was a little nervous I wouldn't make the connection. My nerves were temporarily calmed when we touched down in NY with an hour to spare, but I quickly became anxious again when half an hour passed and we were still lolling about on the runway. By the time we finally exited the plane, I had 20 minutes to get to my next flight.

Of course, the gate I needed to get to was on the opposite end of the airport and it was so big that one could possibly have taken a flight to the other end. I ran so fast I defied the laws of physics; sparks flew from my rubber flip-flops as I checked the boards to see if my flight had left without me (as they so often do). The first board I whizzed past read: Departure time 10 p.m. Even though my flight was supposed to leave at 8, I did not slow down my gait, thinking it a clever ruse by US Airways to lull me into a false sense of security, thereby keeping me off the flight and saving themselves the cost of free soda and pretzels. (This actually does make sense when you're in a panic.) The second board I whizzed past read: Departure time 11 p.m. The third read 11:20 p.m. It was like US Airways thought that by pushing back our departure time in 20 minute increments, nobody would notice that we wouldn't make it to Virginia until the following day.

We screamed, we cried--some of the angrier ones got vouchers--but in the end, we ate our stale Cinnabuns and read our crappy celebrity magazines (thank you, Lindsay Lohan for making up for Britney's upsetting lack of antics), and waited. There was nothing more we could do.

By the time we boarded at 11:30, we were the only flight left.

"Woohoo! Let's hope we're first in line for take off!" a guy in front joked. The plane started to move and we slowly, ever so slowly, did an entire loop around the aiport.

"Uh, folks, this is Captain Smith from the cockpit. Uh ... traffic control asked us to loop around the airport. We're not really sure why, but we're now first in line for take-off and should be departing shortly."

As if I weren't nervous enough that our flight was delayed due to plane maintenance, now I had the added stress of worrying about why we needed to do a lap around the runway (a last check to see if any parts would fall off?) and why on earth the pilots would admit that they had no idea why we would do such a thing. Lie to us! Tell us we have too much fuel and needed to burn some off! Tell us our pilot lost a contact and wanted to circle around to look for it! But for the love of all that's good and light, do not tell us you have no friggin' clue why our plane had to do an entire lap around a deserted airport. Freaks us the fuck out.

Lucky for me, though, the kid next to me threw up on himself just moments before take-off.
The proximity to the noxious fumes knocked me out for the duration of the flight.

When I came to, we had mercifully landed. It was 12:30 a.m. Since our plane was a small prop plane, we had to wait outside on the runway for them to bring us our carry-ons that had been stored below deck. Of course, mine was the last one off the belt. As I grabbed my bag and made a mad dash for freedom, I heard the pilots and flight attendant scream, "Have a good night!" behind me. They actually had the nerve to be upset with me for not kissing and hugging them goodbye and trying to make it to my family before Memorial Day had actually passed.

I turned around just long enough to scream back, "Good morning!" and vowed never again to travel on US Airways ... starting right after I've used that free voucher.