I recently read a post on Peter Greenberg's blog (Out of the Office) titled, "The Crazy Things We'll Do to Get on a Plane." Peter is the Travel Editor for CBS News and says he travels 300 days a year around the globe. I will be paraphrasing two stories from his blog here.
A friend of Peter's was booked from Lagos, Nigeria, to London on a 727. He received a hand-written boarding pass two hours before flight time. When the flight was called, the crowd bolted onto the tarmac and ascended the stairs to the plane. It crushed past the lone gate agent and one timid policeman.
Within two minutes, according to Peter, there were fifty people stranded on the stairs and tarmac who had boarding passes but no seats. Punches were thrown and the army was called in. A lone colonel arrived. He shot his weapon into the air and the mayhem stopped.
"Everyone off the plane," he ordered. "No exceptions! Drop your carry-on bags under the fuselage." He lined up all the passengers under the left wing. "Stay here till you hear me fire my gun again," he said. "Then run completely around the plane once, grab your bag, run back under this wing and up the stairs. The first 125 will get seats."
Which they did, even the little old ladies. After 125 passengers boarded, huffing and puffing, the colonel barred the doorway, firearm ready. The 50 "losers" had to wait two days for the next flight, when the colonel showed up again, just in case.
That story doesn't sound so crazy now, with the Ebola outbreak there!
In his second story, Peter tells of a flight scheduled to leave Beijing at 10:00 a.m. for Hong Kong. The year was 1999. Peter waited from 8:00 till 10:00 without any call to board. AT 10:20 a.m. a Chinese gate agent announced, trembling, "Plane is very sick. Please walk to next gate and we take that plane."
However there was no plane at the next gate. Around 11:30 a.m., an aircraft landed and taxied to that gate. At 1:15 p.m. the same gate agent stuttered, "Very, very sorry again. This plane more sick than other plane...so we take...other plane."
All the passengers, including Peter, boarded the first "sick" plane...and took off. "Why in the world did I do that?" Peter is still asking himself.
Which reminds me of a a flight Charley and I were taking from LaGuardia to Florida on Delta. We had boarded and sat on the runway in a queue of twelve to take off. Half-asleep, we heard, "Sorry folks, we have to turn around." That was it? In the dark and in pouring rain we disembarked in some remote corner of the airport to take buses back to the terminal. Dogs sniffed our luggage, strewn on the tarmac. Ambulances and fire trucks surrounded the plane. A phone call had threatened to blow up our flight!
We waited...and waited. When no bomb was found, we were given the option to wait for a flight the next morning or re-board and proceed south.
We landed that night in Florida without incident but to this day we wonder, What were we thinking??
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.