Missing flight connections and days of smooth travel | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Missing flight connections and days of smooth travel

At 5:30 a.m. Thursday, a huge moon bounced like a gleaming ball against the windows of the hotel van. My nine companions and I were heading to Phoenix International Airport after a night at a nearby motel. US Airways had herded us there the night before after we’d all missed connecting flights.

I’d spent a week visiting Barbara, Mabel and Millie — wife, cat, cat — in Greenville, N.C., where they’re ensconced until Barbara can find a job in these parts. My flights to Greenville had gone off without a hitch, so I figured my number was up for the flights back.

A series of freak thunderstorms — I say freak because for months, eastern North Carolina has been dry as a hickory switch — delayed us in Raleigh long enough to befuddle other flight schedules. Thus the night in a Phoenix motel.

Technical problems delayed the morning flight.

I imagine much of this sounds familiar to many of you. I could detail other commercial flight nightmares, but I’ll let you fill in the blanks with your own experiences.

But as I swayed from side to side on the bouncing motel van Thursday morning, I got to wondering about conversations between airplane pilots and control towers when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Tower: “Bad news, 81, inclement weather’s heading our way.”

Pilot: “What? Tornado? Hurricane? Blizzard?”

Tower: “Worse. Drought.”

Pilot: …

Tower: …

Pilot: “What!?”

Tower: “You’ll have to remain on the tarmac until further directed. It’s a real desert out there.”

Pilot: “We’re in Phoenix! Of course it’s a desert out there!”

Tower: “You don’t have to yell …”

Farfetched? Sure, but just think of the fun when 40 angry riders stare at you after you’d said these words: “Sorry, folks, the flight crew didn’t have time last night to service the aircraft, so we’ll wait while they get it done.”

That’s what I heard Thursday morning — a few minutes before the pilot asked us to deplane and go to another gate. The flight was due to take off at 7 a.m. It left at 9 a.m.

Yeah, yeah. I’m whining. I guess I’m grieving for the days when I enjoyed flying — when it was an adventure and not an ordeal. I don’t think I’ll feel that again.

Fortunately, Barbara and my daughter Alaina are visiting Tahoe for Christmas.

— Paul Dunn is editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at (530) 542-8047 and pdunn@tahoedailytribune.com.

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