Monday, September 3, 2012

Things you don't want happening when you travel

You really don't want to see "water" running out of the lavatory on your airplane.  Trust me on this...
This is the view from my seat on UA 229 on Saturday.

This weekend the Digital Diner crew returned from a trip to Michigan (Thanks G'ma & G'pa!).  These days air travel has gotten to be a pretty stressful process.  However, sometimes you have those trips where you know it just isn't going to go as smoothly as it should.  This was one of those trips.
On the flight from Grand Rapids to Chicago, the weather was too rough for the flight attendants to distribute service items.  This was not a big set back since it was a short flight and they want money for everything anyway, so this just saved us some money.
Things got a bit more interesting on the flight from Chicago to San Francisco.  As we pulled away from the gate there was a loud thud and then all the power went out in the plane.  It was actually quite timely since the safety video was playing and it had just told us about the lighting that would lead us out in the event of a power failure.  There it was!
We sat in the dark for a few minutes and watched as the flaps on the wings drooped down.  Shortly the pilot came on the PA to tell us we were going to pull back into the gate and have a technical crew check out the problem.  It appears that an auxiliary power unit failed as we were disconnected from shore power...  OK.  After about a 45 minute wait, they came on the PA again to announce that everything was ship shape and we were ready to leave (again).  That is when the fun began.  While the announcement was still announcing how ready to go we were, I saw a passenger jump up and run to the lavatory in front of us.  He was followed by a flight attendant.  It was then that I noticed a river of "water" running down the isle toward us.  I told everyone to get their personal items up off the floor immediately!!  We still aren't sure what the liquid was, where it came from, or why it was coming out of the lavatory, but frankly we weren't so interested in that.  Mostly we just wanted to avoid contact with it.
They told everyone to get off the plane.  We took that opportunity to try to get on another flight.  One minor setback is fine, but this plane was looking pretty old when we got on and two significant mechanical failures had lowered our trust in its airworthiness significantly.  After another bout of waiting, then running through O'hare airport, then waiting, then being told that we would have to go back to our original flight... and then arguing and being as obnoxious as necessary in these situations, we got onto another flight on a much newer plane.  The gate agents, of course, were particularly unhelpful and slow and in general the experience sucked.  Our bags actually did get reunited with us the next day so in the end, we just lost a little sleep in the deal.  It could have been worse.
Still, there is something inside me that wonders what that liquid was.  Was it water?  Was it from the toilet?  The sink?  Who was that brave passenger who jumped in there when he saw the leak?  Didn't travelling used to be fun?