Did you know it takes 5 hours to fly from Atlanta?

Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, December 8, 2005

Did you know it takes FIVE HOURS to get from Atlanta to Orlando in an airplane?

Well, yes it does take five hours. But only if you are on a very special flight in a very special plane with very special people on board. We should have broken into a chorus of the Gilligan's Island theme song.

Janice and I were on the last leg of our return from San Diego and the west coast conference. Well, Janice and I and about a dozen fellow employees. I was lucky enough to be in first class. Yep, big deal - just an hour flight. I was in the regular section for the flight from San Diego to Atlanta, doesn't it figure! Anyway, it turned out to be a nice thing to be in first class, for both Janice and myself.

We boarded the plane and settled in. We pushed back from the gate and started our way out to the runway. The captain announced we were 5th in line. By the way, I don't really think they are telling the truth about this. I think they don't make an announcement about our place in line until we move out of the 20's and teens and into the single digit places. I have experienced waiting on the taxi way for an hour, barely moving. Then the captain finally tells us we are fifth and heading out. They don't want to announce "we are 27th and it will be another hour and a half until we get even close to taking off". They wait until "we are fifth in line and will take off in about 10 minutes". Do they really think we didn't notice we had already been waiting an hour?

Anyway, on this night we get to the end of the terminals and are just ready to enter the taxi way and we stop. We wait. We are all wondering what is going on. Then the moment of truth arrives. The captain pulls the plane off the taxi way into a back alley. We sit there for a while. No word of what is going on, but we can figure it out that we are not in line anymore. Once again, do they think we don't notice?

Anyway, the pilot finally comes on and announces that the crew in the back of the plane heard a strange noise. Well, more than a strange noise, I find out later. A noise that sounds something like a wheel is falling off or another part of the airplane is dragging on the ground. The captain tells us that they are trying to see if it is something in the controls causing this. Now, call me crazy, but I always thought the controls were in the font of the plane where the pilot sits, not the back of the plane where us commoners ride. Could you see it now if that were the case? Hey Dianne, let's fly over Texas and buzz some cattle. No, Fred, let's tour the Grand Canyon. Wait, we are going to New York? Oh well, too bad. A little detour never hurt anyone.

So, the pilot says we are going back to the gate. We proceed through our alley out to the other side of the terminals and head back to the gate. Wait, our gate is occupied. We wait for a gate to open up. We get to a gate and the pilot says we will stay on the plane while they check out the cause of the noise. They put a movie on for us to keep the natives from getting restless. It is the Polar Express. It is the third time I have seen it. I saw it on a previous flight, on the way from San Diego to Atlanta and now again. However, this time it is better. Janice came up to the front and I ordered drinks all around, and around again, and maybe a third time....

The mechanic finished up and certified our flightworthiness and we settled back in. The Polar Express was still playing. We were backed out of the gate and turned loose to head down the taxi way. Half way down we stopped. We waited. Planes started passing us. We moved forward and back into the alley. We waited. The pilot announced the noise was heard again. Kind of like pieces were falling off the plane, or the luggage compartment door was left open and we were leaving a trail of suitcases behind so we could find our way back to the terminal YET AGAIN.

We get to the terminal and the mechanic is sent out to check things again. It has been narrowed down to a problem with a wheel. I am not sure, but I would like all wheels working when we land. I am very happy they are checking things out again. However, at this point I am not sure I want to be on this plane any longer, regardless of what they say. I think that was a common sentiment throughout the passengers. There was a groundswell of skepticism regarding the safety of the plane. Just before we started a coup, the pilot announced we would be getting off the plane and using another one.

Now, three hours into this process, we are still in Atlanta and not making any progress that is bringing us closer to Orlando. We all get off and mill about the gate area, wondering what to do. Delta actually handled this extremely well. Announcements were made, a time frame given and within 30 minutes everyone was re-ticketed and boarding a new plane.

We settled in and were backed out of the gate. We headed out to the taxi way and I think everyone held their breath. We continued to move forward... that was definitely progress. We made it pass our alleyway. More progress. No reports of noise from the back of the plane. REAL PROGRESS! We were 3rd to take off. Wow, we might actually do it this time. We turn the corner and the pilot fires up the jets. We barrel down the runway, and YES!!!! Wheels up and we are in the air.

We land at midnight, a slight delay from the original arrival time of 7:00 p.m. However, I always say "I would much rather have the excitement on the ground than in the air or approaching the ground?!!!!
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