As I sit at the desk in the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, I feel the need to share my story with you. So, when you have five minutes, sit back, relax, and enjoy what I only wish was an April Fool’s Day joke.
My car arrives (early!) to whisk me off to LaGuardia for my 5:30 pm flight to Milwaukee, where I plan to attend the ASPA conference in an effort to better myself professionally. I should arrive in Milwaukee at 6:30 pm local time.
Despite horrible New York traffic, I arrive at LaGuardia (early!), and check-in.
I breeze through security and stop to purchase the obligatory Diet Coke and a copy of the newest People magazine rip-off, Life & Style. Is Britney pregnant? Will Denise get custody of the kids? Are Ashton and Demi getting married? I NEED TO KNOW.
I arrive at my gate and notice that the flight is delayed – by 5 minutes. After settling into a comfy chair, I confirm by phone with Will that I doubt the delay will just be 5 minutes.
Our plane arrives, and passengers deplane. We are told that they need 25 minutes to prepare the plane. I learn that Britney’s husband doesn’t want a baby. This from a man who left his girlfriend when she was 6 months pregnant with his second child? I did NOT see that coming.
True to their word, we board, without incident, and I find the large seats quite lovely. There is room for my bag overhead, and I settle into my seat.
We pull back from the gate. Some will later claim they felt a bump, but I experienced nothing out of the ordinary. I learn that Demi Moore was married to a creepy-looking person before Bruce Willis.
After waiting on the runway in line to take off, the captain comes on. Instead of the expected “We are cleared for take-off,” I am treated to the following (paraphrased) announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a problem. Apparently when we were backing out of the gate, we may have hit another plane.” Hit. Another plane. Elderly passengers check their hearing aids. Young passengers fear that their non-stop iPod use has finally done them in. An entire plane of passengers simultaneously thinks “what the hell?” The man in seat 13A seems to think that swearing loudly and speaking in that almost-shout voice will fix the problem. The rest of us in row 13 roll our eyes, and a few of us burst out laughing.
We get out of line and start the slow taxi back to the gate. I place my first of many calls to Allegra, Will, and anyone I can think might find this amusing. From my prime location I watch as American Airlines workers look at the tail from a cherry-picker. Men in suites, men in cover-alls and men in orange vests mill around. The NYPD arrives, presumably to take a report. American will probably need that to file a claim. I wonder to myself what the deductible is on a 737.
The captain comes on, presumably to tell us if our plane is broken. But no! He is telling us they are waiting for a mechanic. I learn that I don’t find Terri Hatcher attractive at all.
I move on to People magazine, where I learn that Britney might be pregnant, and Ashton and Demi might be getting married. I give up on my magazines and start trying to get some work done. The gate agent arrives to gather up those who have connections in Milwaukee to reassign them. For those of us remaining on board, a sense of sadness sets in. Will we see our comrades again?
Yes, apparently. They’re back.
Mechanic has arrived. Rejoice!
The gate agent arrives again. They are taking some people who either had connections through La Guardia or through Milwaukee (neither applies to me, you see, so I tune it out) to the 7:30 flight. Which is late. I can see that flight out of my window. Oh, to be on that flight!
“We’ve completed the examination. The plane is fine. Have a good trip.” Cheers and applause erupt. It can’t be long now! We’ll soon be on our way to the land of Brett Favre and yummy cheese! The other flight to Milwaukee pushes back and takes off. We sit. But not for long, we are lead to believe. Seat 13A shouts that it’s about time.
That sound. Of the captain coming on. Telling us of estimated time of arrival? No. Oh lord, no. The computer? It’s confused. In their effort to accommodate as many passengers as they can, they have “lost” a few of them in the system. We cannot take off until it gets sorted out. Seat 13A starts making angry statements and “funny” jokes. Again, the rest of the plane rolls its collective eyes.
“Flight attendants, prepare for take-off.” No. Really? You wouldn’t tease a girl, would you? I shut down my cell phone and blackberry. I check my seat belt. 13A makes a snide comment. We begin to taxi back to the runway!
I notice out of my window a couple of cars with red lights flashing. Then a couple more. I count 17 cars, including some sedans, a few actual police cars, and an ambulance. Do we have a shoe-bomber situation?
No. We have a Dick Cheney in Air Force Two situation. Not only is he helping to screw up my country, but now he’s screwing up my flight some more. We wait.
WHEELS UP! We’re in the air! A mere 3 hours and 30 minutes after pulling away from the gate for the first time, we’re in the air!!!!!
We land. The poor flight attendants have done their best. Their actual statement is a resigned “We again apologize for the delays. We . . . well, we hope you’ll think of choosing us again.” As we exit the jet way, we are handed gift certificates for $75 off of our next flight. If I ever have to come to Milwaukee again, I might consider them. If ValuJet is booked.
– It apparently takes 20 minutes for a message on the ground to get to a pilot
– The space between planes by the gates at La Guardia is narrow
– Dick Cheney’s heart is so bad he needs an ambulance in his motorcade.
That is all.