If You Build It, They Will Come.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thank you for flying Southwest,
you are now free to get off the plane and try again.

So I flew up to Sacremento for Thanksgiving. It was nice. I had a good time seeing family again.

I left my house at 6:30am, figuring that would give me enough time to make it through LA traffic on Thanksgiving, to get through a crowded LAX, and to finally reach the terminal and board a flight that was to depart at 10:20am. So I got in the car and headed toward LAX. I swear to you, I have never seen LA freeways so empty. There was no one on the 405, no traffic at all. There were a few cars every here and there, but otherwise it was vaccant. I got to LAX, parked my car, found a shuttle, got to a long line for security, which moved insanely fast for a long line. Got through security in a heartbeat, and made it to my terminal. Checking my watch, it was now 7:20am. Yeah, I had three hours to kill in the airport.

On my way back to Los Angeles though, we ran into a bit of a, shall we say, hiccup.

My plane was scheduled to depart at 7:10pm. I got to the terminal at about 5:50pm. So I was again early. We all board this plane, and it just sits there for like twenty minutes. Then suddenly everything shuts off. The lights, the engines, everything, and it's really quiet. Then everything comes back on. And then off again. Already my confidence in this airplane is kind of shot, and if you want a comfortable flight, you need to have that trust relationship with the giant metal machine that's about to fling you through the air at 400mph. The captain (who sounded mysteriously like the late Richard Nixon) comes on and says our energy gauge is broken and we're getting one from a different plane, it will just take a moment. A moment turned into another half hour when they decided that due to the fact they needed to shut all the power off again, we all need to deboard the plane, because of safety regulations. So we all get our stuff off the plane, and go back out to the gate. Then they ship in a new plane and we all get on that. It's now 8:45pm. I was supposed to be in LA by 8:30pm. We all board the new plane. I get the seat behind the left wing, but there's only about 50 of us on this flight so we all get to stretch out. It's nice and cozy. The plane departs, and about halfway through takeoff, while we are about 4000 feet up, there's this huge bang, the plane shakes, and there's sparks flying out of the left engine. It was at this point I considered the possibility that I was going to die in a plane crash. The sparks stopped, it seemed I was one of the only people who saw them. The plane keeps going. We don't seem to go much higher than 5000 feet, which isn't really that high in flight terms, but is very high in falling terms. The plane circles around slowly and goes back to Sacremento and lands. They tell us they heard a small pop and had some funny odor in the cockpit, and didn't feel it was safe to continue. I disagree with the small pop.

So we get off the plane again, and we get onto another plane heading to LA, already filled with other people. It's now 10:05pm. This plane is newer and shinier, and the captain kept apologizing to us, but saying we made the right choice in flying with Southwest. I got to sit next to a nice couple about my age from Orange County named Troy and Amanda, and they were expecting a baby in march. They were nice.

We landed at LAX at 11:10pm.

Being that it was Thanksgiving, I was thankful for the fact that we didn't all die on flight #2.


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