My day started as many flying days do. Waiting in a airport terminal. But this time it kicked off with a big old delay. Bad weather in and around Minneapolis and Chicago stopped most flights west. People were stuck and not moving at all. The crowd became larger and larger.
Eventually three hours late my first flight left. We arrived in Chicago Midway and that’s when the nightmare really began. For starters I *almost* missed my connection flight.
When I got to there I found out that my connection was running late. I ran/jogged to the gate. I stood in line for my boarding pass which wasn’t given to me earlier for some reason.
So far this story sounds like every other day in a airport but you ain’t heard nothing yet. Read the rest of this insanity by clicking on more.
When we finally got on this airplane headed for Minneapolis we taxied to the runway. Suddenly out there on the tarmac we were told there was a delay. The delay then turned into RETURNING TO THE GATE! We had waited so long on the runway that several crew members (pilots) had exceeded their sixteen hour limit of working. This forced them to leave the airplane. At first we were told that the airplane could get new pilots. Then finally, once we were at the gate again, the flight was canceled.
Over a hundred people got off the plane and got in line to figure out what next. We didn’t receive even a hint as to what we should do. While we were standing in line several gentlemen discussed the grim possibilities. Many of them became determined to drive from Chicago to Minneapolis. One of them said it was only four hours drive away. (It turns out to be more like seven hours.)
Suddenly a woman who had been closer to the front of the line walked by us saying their was a flight leaving right now at a certain gate that we could get on. A stamped ensued with twenty or so pieces of luggage on wheels being pulled in front of me at high speed. By the time most of us arrived at the gate the line was thirty people long. Several people walked up to the front of the line to see what was going on. Two very exhausted and stressed airline employees where rapidly typing on keyboards with eyes locked on small computer monitors. One by one people got boarding passes and got on board. Lots of confusion ensued. We were told that they had enough seats for us all, then they said that there weren’t, then finally they did. They only had eight left. I was number seven.
As I walked onto a 737 that was about to be completely full every person had a look of exasperation and anger on their faces. I tried to apologize via a smile. I took the first seat I saw open. Now I was on airplane number two in a in-between seat in a row of three. Fortunately this time I was next to two VERY kind, positive, and funny people who were determined to make the best of a really sad situation.
Three hours later we were on the tarmac still waiting. The people who were on the plane before me had been waiting for at least four hours. AGAIN I heard the reason for our delay was bad weather in Minneapolis. Both Chicago airports had all west bound flights stopped. We waited even more. Finally they taxied the airplane back to the gate for us to wait more.
Several people wanted to leave the airplane. Some where hungry. Some were feeling claustrophobic. I was starting to sympathize with both. This unfortunately would be a bad thing. If we left the plane we wouldn’t be allowed back on. The next flight to Minneapolis was at 11pm. Over twelve hours after my first flight was supposed to start. I could have gone to England in this amount of time!
Again I heard that a member of the flight crew had “maxed out” their shift. No one on the plane it seems is allowed to work more than sixteen hours. Very inconvenient but I for one am glad a tired pilot is not yawning as they announce a landing at a destination. Tired people who drive is bad enough. Imagine falling asleep at the wheel of a giant jet with hundreds of people aboard!?!?!
So finally the third plane I had been on today left Chicago Midway airport to drop us at our destination about six hours late. I paid for a expensive cab ride to the hotel, got my room, and fell asleep almost immediately.