A (lack of) flying nightmare comes true on the tarmac - Morgan Hill Times: Laurie Sontag

A (lack of) flying nightmare comes true on the tarmac

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Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 4:11 pm

You know how you read the stories in the paper of poor, tortured souls who board a plane for a one-hour flight and six hours later they are still sitting on the tarmac in a plane full of people who have not eaten anything but a piece of wood disguised as a granola bar and whose deodorant has failed thanks to the hot, Texas sun and the lack of A/C in the sweltering plane? And you know how you always think, “I hope that never happens to me?”

Yeah. I thought that. And yeah. It happened to me.

We left San Antonio last weekend, headed for a connecting flight in Dallas and ultimately home. Our plane pulled out about 10 feet from the gate and stopped. Turns out there were severe thunderstorms in Dallas, so we couldn’t fly in.

About an hour into our torture the crowd began to get restless (except Junior who had movies on his iPad and snacks in his backpack, so he hardly seemed to notice we weren’t going anyplace). But Little Jerry, the 3-year-old across the aisle who, until that very minute, had been entertaining all of us with his tone-deaf rendition of “I’m a Ninja Boy,” suddenly tired of singing and instead began to practice his ninja boy moves on the seat in front of him, whose occupant never woke up, despite Little Jerry’s swift kicks. Honestly? I’d have thought the guy was dead, but he was snoring like crazy.

And then there was the very loud lady at the back of the plane who spent her time calling every single person she had ever met in her life to tell them that the airline was going to pay for ruining her day, but unfortunately she had only two bars left on her phone, so every single person she called needed to phone the airline and get her off the dang plane. I swear to you, she called a billion people. I could only pray one of them would convince the airline to set up a special stairway just for her.

After two hours (coincidentally just before the airline is apparently required to give us a snack and water) we took off for Dallas. And landed in Abilene. We waited another couple of hours there, along with a hundred or so other planes.

It was at this point that the most terrifying part of our trip occurred. We ran out of snacks. Junior frantically scoured the depths of his backpack and came up with some crumbs and one package of crackers with peanut butter and honey. I told him to make them last and he did. He ate them in two bites, instead of his customary one bite.

And then Little Jerry began to get even more restless. First his dad gave Jerry an iPad which allowed all of us to hear the joyous sounds of Little Jerry shooting at something and screaming “woo-hoo” every time he made a kill - which was disturbingly frequent. And Loud Lady got back on her phone, only this time she added the terrifying phrase “my anti-anxiety medicine is wearing off” to her litany of complaints.

And then Little Jerry’s dad took away the iPad so he could hunt for new flights in Dallas. And Little Jerry was not pleased, but he didn’t cry. He didn’t yell. He just waited until his Dad was using the iPad and on the phone with the airline, and he wriggled out of his seatbelt, down between his dad’s legs and made a break for it. The music from “Chariots of Fire” swelled as Little Jerry made it down the aisle, clearly destined to be the only person escaping from this version of Hell, only to be scooped up by his mother, who was sitting several rows ahead. Sadly, even ninja boys had to stay on the plane.

Finally, we took off again, arrived in Dallas and sat on the tarmac awaiting a gate. But this time, we got granola bars or possibly edible wood chips. Hard to tell them apart. And then, after six hours total, we were able to get off the plane and discover that all other flights had been delayed, but that our connecting flight had left six minutes earlier.

And so began the second phase of our journey, waiting in the airport for three hours to make another flight. As for Little Jerry and Loud Lady, they made it off the plane and were never seen again.

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