For the first time in my life, I decided to travel over the Christmas holiday. I love my grandkids, but the ability to get out of town to a warmer climate was alluring. So I went online and booked my flight to Vegas on Southwest Airline.
As the day approached, so did the bad weather. The smartest decision I made, at least at that time, was to rebook my flight to leave at an earlier time. I got to Midway Airport, and it took me two minutes to check my bags and three minutes to get through security. The first sign that Southwest was beginning to have a problem, was that our flight was delayed. The gate agent announced the delay was because they needed to find a crew.
One hour later, with a flight crew finally found, we were fully on board and ready to take off. The flight was oversold, but what they were offering us to give up a seat wasn’t worth the consideration. I later learned that my flight was the last one to take off from Midway that day before they stopped all the flights because of the storm.
My original flight was nonstop. The rebooked flight was taking me directly into Long Beach, California. We were told we would wait on the tarmac for 30 minutes, just long enough to let off passengers and take on new ones. Then we would be off to our final destination.
However, once we landed at Long Beach, the pilot announced that his sensors had indicated that the fuel filter was starting to go bad. So they would have a mechanic change it. However, the mechanic wasn’t at the airport. They would have to beep him at home and he would have to drive in, change the filter, and do whatever else was needed. That did not bode well with me. And my gut feelings were right. Over two hours later, we were still on the ground, unable to get off the plane, and the only food option were those snack cracker packages and soft drinks.
Waiting around inside a plane is not any fun. The only salvation was that the airport doesn’t use covered ramps. So people exited the plane either out the front door or out the back. The back door being open created a comfortable airflow.
With three hours approaching and still were stuck on the tarmac, I marched up to the cockpit prepared to take over. I slid into the captain’s chair, and demanded the keys so I could start the ignition. Thankfully my co-pilot knew a lot more about flying a plane than I did.
As I sit at the airport writing this column and prepared to head home, I’m praying that all the problems Southwest had during that cold spell will not affect my journey home.