Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jet blues

The whole Jet Blue fiasco reminded me of a similar one I suffered as a flight attendant years ago. I was working for a small airline with about five or ten jets that flew out of JFK to a few Florida destinations.

Same deal--ice storm plus a mechanical. We were scheduled to take off at 7:30 a.m., but we had a mechanical at the gate. The passengers were allowed to wait in the terminal until we were ready to leave around 2:30p.m. That was when our afternoon flight departed too, so we combined the flights. During the wait, however, one or two passengers decided to wait on board, so I had to wait with them. When we pulled away from the gate, we got another mechanical. But we had lost our gate, which we rented from Delta.

The agreement apparently was that we bought thirty minutes at the gate and thirty minutes was all we got. The pilots kept requesting gate space, and Delta (or the control towers) kept telling them to wait. We waited on the tarmac until dark. Around 9:00, the pilots left the plane because they were about to exceed the hours they were allowed to sit in the cockpit and break FAA regulations. But another crew boarded and Delta finally sent a people mover for the rest of us.

Wonder of wonders the mechanical was finally fixed, but by then it was so cold and snowy we needed to be de-iced. There were about three de-icing trucks in the whole airport (or maybe just our terminal, but it seemed like the whole airport). When one finally started coming our way, it broke down before it got to us. Unbelievably, so did a second. Another was sent, and we finally took off somewhere close to midnight.

It was a miserable day of course. I was the second-most senior flight attendant. The first flight attendant refused to let us feed the passengers because it's against FAA regulations to have food and drink out on the tarmac. The passengers eventually fed themselves.

There were cross words, a claustrophobic attack and a subsequent escort off the plane by police officers; a fight I think at the overwing exits and another escort off the plane by police. There were tears and nervous stomachs, mine included. The worst part was waiting for word from the captain, who had left the plane, and promised to send word; and then waiting for same from the first officer and not getting it, and then seeing that old curmudgeonly engineer abandon us via the aft staircase. I felt very alone.

We flew to Florida with the new flight crew, picked up some passengers who had been waiting all day and returned to New York the next morning around 7:00. Now that was a long day at work.



Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

There were cross words, a claustrophobic attack and a subsequent escort off the plane by police officers; a fight I think at the overwing exits and another escort off the plane by police.

What a nightmare! I've mentioned my dislike of flying before over at Cathy's World, and incidents such as the one you went through remind me why I dislike it so much.

If it were up to me, I would rent a car (or an SUV) and drive all the way up to Washington state this July when I plan to visit my brother. However, I'll be traveling with my folks, and being in their 60s they just aren't up to the rigors of extended road travel. Thus, we'll have to fly. Ugh.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Make your folks buy you a first-class ticket!

I prefer to fly, even after that horrendous experience, but I do get anxiety. I get line anxiety at the ticket counter. Once when I flew from NYC with a connection to SLC and the flight attendant forgot to give me my boarding pass for the connecting flight, I fretted the entire first leg, figuring my holiday was over!

I guess I'm a big fretter.

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...we use to drive up to Washington a lot when the kids were small because we were poor and we were young with endurance but gosh,what a freaking long drive even from So. Cal it is. Unless you can make many stops along the way, take a valium and fly!

When the 2nd son was 3 months old we made the long haul up there (to visit my dad), and it was a terrible shock to discover it is possible for a baby to howl nonstop through 3 states! Nothing would appease him, and for a great part of the journey he was cuddled in my arms until falling asleep...and of course during the transfer back to carseat, he would stir and start howling all over again.

Its a miracle we didn't sell him to the gypsies along the way...and my hub and I didn't get a divorce, so stressful was it.

This past summer we happily flew up there with the 3 kids (now 24, 19, 17) and had a good laugh revisiting the trip from hell with them...


12:49 PM  
Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

Make your folks buy you a first-class ticket!

Ha! That could make things a bit better, but given my luck I'd likely be seated next to some overly-talkative conspiracy theorist. Only once have I been fortunate enough to be seated next to an attractive woman - life's just not fair.

take a valium and fly!

There's an idea! I'd imagine that traveling long distances by car with young children would be difficult. When my parents took my brother and I on cross-country trips, it was when we were older and less noisy.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, our fondest memories are travelling in the car with the kids - in spite of all the squabbling, howling, and racuous behavior of children. They are our best stories shared these years, and we're richer for the experiences because we had only one another for company and the excitement we all shared for travel and seeing new things outweighed everything else. (those were the fondest memories of me growing up too - although one of the cross-country trips in a '63 VW bug, sitting in the backseat with my sister and brother and trying to make bologna sandwiches reminds me as an adult exactly why God made minivans.


5:56 PM  
Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

Our cross-country trips were in a 1979 Chrysler LeBaron coupe. My dad would put a huge cooler on the back seat between my brother and to keep us from fighting for space. Good times.

8:53 PM  

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