Once settled in my new seat and kindle turned off….. You cannot read a kindle during take-off and landing, very frustrating. (note to self, bring something to read for take-off and landing in future!). The plane pulled away from the gate to join the queue for take-off. Fifteen minutes later we were still sitting in the queue not having moved an inch. Pilot came on over the intercom, introduced himself and his cabin crew and informed us we would be off shortly.
Fifteen minutes later, now keep in mind Kindle is still off and I have read the flight magazine from cover to cover. The pilot made another announcement. Take-off was delayed due to a storm coming from the south directly in our flight path and we should be off within the next twenty minutes or so. Kindle was pulled out of seat pocket.
The intercom crackled. I was engrossed in my kindle reading and surprised how quickly the twenty minutes passed. In fact it hadn’t and the pilot sounded slightly frustrated. “I am sorry ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we will be here a bit longer, there is another storm heading into our flight path from the north.” The sound of shuffling in seats filled the air. I shrugged, gave my new aisle neighbour a small smile and silently thanked the Gods of all denominations for inspiring me to change seats with tall disgruntled woman’s husband and returned to my kindle.
Two minutes later the captain was gracing us with another update. “The tower has been evacuated due to a tornado. It will take at least half an hour for the tower crew to be up and running again once the all clear is given. Hopefully we will be underway before we hit the deadline for legal flying hours under the flight time limitation regulations. I will keep you posted on any further developments.”
Thoughts of what will I do if the flight is cancelled, swirled. I looked all around me, this flight was filled to capacity, or at least it looked that way from my vantage point. There was only one flight to Dublin each day. I chided myself to stop worrying about that, and think what will this involve….collecting my bag, organizing a hotel, getting to the hotel, getting back to the airport from said as yet unidentified hotel.
Then the plane started to sway. It swayed left and then right and back again. There were inward gasps all around me. It seemed the plane was doing a little dance, back and forth. Yes, I was sitting on an airplane in the middle of a runway that was being tossed to and fro by a tornado!
“I am afraid this crew is running out of time Ladies and Gentlemen. If we are not off the ground within the next thirty minutes, we are out of legal flying time.”
The flight attendants started handing out meal trays. They were one row away from me….I was starving. It was now close to 10PM and I hadn’t eaten since I left Minneapolis. There was a scuttle of movement. Flight attendants were darting up the aisles and down the aisles. Trays were clanging as they were being whipped back onto the carts. My stomach was flapping at my ribs with the hunger and now even the prospect of food was to be cruelly denied me.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the tower is manned, and our crew has voted to continue with the flight, even though we are just minutes away from our legal flying hour limit. Please fasten your seat belts. Cabin Crew prepare for take-off.”
There was a resounding round of applause. Everyone was glad to be finally moving. We were in the air within minutes. Over three hours later than our scheduled time, but a relief washed over me. I was not going to have to contend with sorting out accommodation in Chicago. All I had to contend with now, was how was I going to get from Dublin to Waterford. The bus I was supposed to be taking would be well gone by the time I landed in Dublin.
The pilot made another announcement once we were at cruising altitude thanking and congratulating the crew for their professionalism, and again everyone gave a warm and very appreciative applause. Once the meal was served, the pilot made the same announcement; I only half-heartily clapped at congratulatory speech number three. On landing in Dublin, pilot reiterated his praise for the wonderful selfless crew and how very grateful we the passengers should all be. This fourth self-congratulatory speech annoyed me and so I did not clap. It was just one too many “How great are we” speeches for me to stomach.
And so ends the saga of my journey. But hey there is always the return trip!