On the Tarmac for 6 hours for SXSWi

Yesterday we had one of those nightmarish plane trips you hear about on the news every so often. Our American Airlines flight to Austin, Texas had a (supposed to be) short stop in Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The first leg from Indianapolis to Dallas went smoothly, and we got on the plane 1717 for the 36ish minute flight from Dallas to Austin.

As we got to the runway, they made the pilot turn back to de-ice the plane. The airport had known the storm was coming in, but the didn’t have the de-icers prepared near take off, so the captain had to turn around and taxi back to where they were located, which took an hour and a half. I’m paraphrasing what the captain was telling us here; I don’t really know beans about plane de-icers.

Note that this wasn’t a very big storm by northern standards; less than an inch of snow and some sleet. Something that Indianapolis airport handles regularly and Chicago and New York do in their sleep. Six inches of snow, according to the news. And Dallas doesn’t get snow often, so I guess I should allow them to act like big babies about it.

In the process of waiting behind the other planes that had arrived at the de-icers first (planes that were taking off after ours) our plane ran out of fuel, and had to return to a gate to refuel. It took two hours to clear a gate for us to pull in and refuel, and in the meantime, 50 other planes got in line for the de-icer ahead of us.

We waited two and a half more hours for the traffic jam at the de-icers to clear, and then American Airlines canceled all their flights out. They told us over the intercom that the whole airport canceled flights, but we found out later that wasn’t true. All through the process of sitting on the plane, the airport would tell captain one thing and then another; he was obviously pretty frustrated with them when he was making announcements of the intercom, and he appeared to think we were getting the shaft. At one time, after saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know anything.” for the hundredth time, he joked “I do know I’m the captain of this plane. That’s one thing I do know.”

In the last hour of the trip, passengers behind us opened a betting pool on when we would actually take off. None of them won.

We decided to get a rental car and drive (3 and a half hours) to Austin. American wouldn’t release our luggage to us though; they’re putting it on a plane this morning. They say.

On the shuttle from the airport to the car rental, we heard that only American canceled flights and all the other airlines continued. I’ll have to check on that on the news this morning. So we got to the hotel about 10 p.m. – 9 hours after we originally were supposed to arrive. — updated: all the flights were canceled, not just American.

Needless to say; I’m not flying American ever again, and I’ll definitely never fly into Dallas, where they’re too big weenies to deal with a bit of snow. I’ll give them the snow. I wish they’d done a better job of managing the planes, because ours really got shafted.

Somewhere in the confusion of packing I put my iPhone charger in my checked luggage, which frustrating. I can charge it by tethering it to my laptop, but that’s pretty inconvenient.

What’s even less convenient is that I put my CPAP machine in my checked luggage; something that the airlines advised to do because TSA is too stupid to recognize what it is and tends to pull people out of security lines for them, thinking they’re improvised explosive devices.

Fortunately, I did not die of sleep apnea last night. I did have a pretty rough night though, and feel like crap, which is of course the way I want to start out our trip. Also, I’m wearing the clothes from yesterday, which is lovely.

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The purser wants you to stop that

New Yorker article on a gay couple who were ordered to stop kissing on an airplane:

Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. “The purser wants you to stop that,” she said.
“I opened my eyes and was, like, ‘Stop what?’ ” Varnier recalled the other day.
“The touching and the kissing,” the stewardess said, before walking away.
Tsikhiseli and Varnier were taken aback. “He would rest his head on my shoulder or the other way around. We’d kiss—not kiss kiss, just mwah,” Tsikhiseli recalled, making a smacking sound.
In the row behind them were Leisner and Jackson. “They were like two lovebirds,” said Leisner, who is a classical guitarist. Frobes-Cross, a Columbia grad student who was sitting across the aisle, had overheard the stewardess’s decree, too. “First thing I catch is ‘You have to stop touching each other,’ ” he said. “And I’m, like, Whoa, that’s really weird.”

After discussing the issue further with the crew, the pilot of the plane told them that they needed to shut up or he would divert the plane. The airline officials also refused to speak to the when the plane landed.
The airline tried to claim that the policy was in place for all couples, but when people called in later to ask, they admitted that straight couples are not prohibited from kissing each other on the plane.
I would so be in trouble for this, because Stephanie and I hold hands and kiss all the time.

Continue ReadingThe purser wants you to stop that