We've all experienced annoying airport flight delays, but most of the time we never learn the reason for the hold-up. However, on a recent American Airlines flight from Dallas to Jackson Hole http://www.jacksonhole.com/indexx.html the Captain himself gave us a little too much information, leading me to wonder if someone had injected him with truth serum.
Flight 2599 was scheduled to depart Dallas at 5:10 p.m., but was delayed to 6:10 p.m. This was slightly irritating, but no one went off the deep end because it would now arrive in Jackson only one hour later. Beside, no one was about to go ski or go on a wildlife Safari to Yellowstone at 8 or 9 p.m.
Happily, at the designated time, we boarded the plane. We sat. And sat. And sat. After about a half an hour, a garbled midwestern voice came from the loudspeakers: "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. I'm sorry for the delay, but we were delayed two hours coming from Vancouver." He paused. "We seem to have a little problem. Our hydraulics are leaking and it wouldn't really be a good idea if we tried to fly that way. Not a good idea at all, I'm sure you'd all agree." He paused again. "So, the technicians are going to come and try and fix it, and we'll be off the ground as soon as they do."
Everyone remained absolutely silent.
"Also, he continued, "I've flown into Jackson many many times in my life -- I used to fly there all the time -- but I haven't flown into there in two years and it's a kind of tricky approach. So, before we take off, I'm going to go have to watch a video. It's required. I'm going to get off the Jetway now and I'll be back in 40 minutes."
"What?" the person behind me said. "Why didn't he watch it during his two hour delay in Vancouver. This is absurd."
We all agreed and grumbled. We sat, and we sat, and we sat. Forty minutes later, the Captain was back. "Ladies and Gentlemen," came his cheery voice on the loudspeaker. "Unfortunately, they are unable to fix the hydraulics, so we are going to have to change planes. It will take about an hour to get the new plane out of the hangar, clean it, and get it to the gate. You may now deboard, but please check the departure signs, because we don't know which gate the new plane will arrive at."
We all pulled our suitcases from the overheard bins and re-assembled in the boarding area. Most of the passengers were furious, but I considered the fact that we were leaving at all a blessing. The last thing I wanted was spend the night in an airport hotel. At least now, no matter what time we arrived in Jackson Hole, I'd wake up and look out at the Grand Tetons.
Almost two hours went by when finally they announced American Airlines flight 2599 to Jackson Hole was now boarding. It was another Boeing 757 so we took our same seats as the Captain announced, "Welcome back. Sorry about the long wait, but the plane had to cleaned and I don't just mean the seats needed to be cleaned.. The rest rooms were really smelly and the whole plane smelled foul, and we certainly weren't going to let you onboard with it smelling like that. That would be a horrible way to fly." Again, we were silent. We fastened our seatbelts and rolled away from the gate. It was now 9:30pm. At least we were leaving.
But we sat on the runway. There were no planes ahead of us. This was strange. There had to be a new situation. Suddenly the Captain's voice boomed again on the loudspeaker, "Well folks, we seem to have a new problem. The left door just in front of the engines wont close and because its right in front of the engine, we don't think flying would be a very wise decision. I'm sure you agree, so we're going to go back to the gate and fix it."
Ten minutes later, we were still sitting at the gate. The Captain announced, "We're going to have two mechanics out there, and what they're going to do is take the door completely off, then put duct tape all around the edges. That's right folks, duct tape. And then they're going to put the door back on and that will keep it closed for our flight." No one said a word.
Duct tape? Was he serious?
Half an hour later, we taxied down the runway with no further mechanical problems, took off, and three hours later, arrived in Jackson Hole. There had been a five-hour delay, but better safe than sorry. The next time I'm on a delayed flight and the Captain does not announce the reason for the hold-up, I think I'm going to be one happy passenger.