Monday, October 10, 2011

Disarming the Frustration With Humor

Anyone who has flown commercially more than a few times can probably recite the pre flight safety announcements from memory. You know the ones I am talking about, seat belts, oxygen masks, disabling smoke detectors in the lavatory, etc.

Today on Delta Airlines flight DL1059 from Detroit to New Orleans, we were blessed to have a chief flight attendant - a red haired girl named Angie - who added some levity to a somewhat tense situation.

The flight to the Big Easy was scheduled to leave DTW at 8:42 AM. Boarding began on time around 8:02 AM, but the routine ended from there. Due to my Silver Medallion Sky Miles status, I am beginning to get a few perks when I fly, like free checked bags, exit row and bulkhead seats, when available at no extra cost, etc. I'm nowhere near the goodies that the Gold Medallion and Priority Status folks get, but it is nice to get an upgrade here or there.

I was in a bulkhead seat on the aisle, just behind the first class part of the cabin. There were only six rows of seats between me and the open flight deck door, giving me a fairly close up view of that vital area of the plane. I noticed the large area of instrument panels, and one particular orange button that was illuminated. What caught my interest was a technician looking guy who stood between the captain and the first officer, with his head cocked to one side, studying the Little orange light. He had a manual of some type in one hand, and when he began to flick the lighted button with the fingers of his other hand, the thought occurred to me that this might not be a good sign.

Indeed, there were a stream of individuals who came into and out of the cockpit area, all of whom seemed to be focused on the little orange light. Eventually the pilot came on the PA system and informed us there was a small mechanical issue that was delaying our flight. He had every reason to believe that we would soon be underway.

That didn't happen. Eventually one of those funny looking airport tractors pulled up towing a boxlike trailer. The driver got off and uncoiled what looked like a large vacuum cleaner hose. I don't know what it was, but he attached the end of the hose to the plane, somewhere just below where we were sitting. After starting up the machine, he stood by for a long time, looking at some type of meter on the side of the trailer.

Then one of those cherry picker type vehicles came by and hoisted a couple of guys up to check out the tail section of the plane. The pilot told us the malfunction had something to do with some type of "bottle". Again it was not something that would cause the flight to be cancelled, and he assured us that we should be underway soon. Power was shut off to the plane, and the longer we sat there, the warmer it got. After nearly an hour, a flight attendant by the name of John Carlo came around offering the warm passengers cold cups of water. I was thankful for John Carlo and his merciful mission.

Finally after a parade of visitors to the flight deck and a flurry of activity around the outside of the plane, the pilot announced that we would be pulling back from the gate, momentarily. Total time on the plane - at the gate - one hour and a half. New Orleans was my final destination, but I sure felt sorry for my fellow passengers who had to make connections in the Crescent City. I hope it worked out for them.

As the power came back on, the AC kicked in, and the engines began to power up, the regular pre flight routine began.

As John Carlo and the other flight attendant took their spots at the front and midsection of the plane, Angie (the chief Flight Attendant) began to make the familiar pre flight safety announcement's, in a manner that made me literally laugh out loud!

"Ladies and gentlemen. In the unlikely event that you have not been in an automobile since 1972 our flight attendants will now demonstrate how to use a seat belt."

"Complaining, Drama, and Smoking are not allowed aboard this flight. If you feel that you must have a cigarette during this two hour and thirty minute flight, feel free to step out on the wing and enjoy your smoke."

"If this plane should lose power, pretty little lights will appear on the floor and guide you to the nearest exit - one of which may be sneaking up right behind you."

"If the cabin should depressurize, oxygen masks will magically fall down from the ceiling. Please follow these instructions. First, stop screaming and pull the oxygen mask over your face, and secure it by tightening the elastic bands on the side. Please be sure your mask is properly affixed before you help children, or other folks who may be acting like children."

"Should our flight unexpectedly turn into a CRUISE, your seat cushion will serve as a flotation device."

"As we prepare for takeoff, please stow and lock your tray, and return your seat to its upright and most uncomfortable position."

I think you get the idea...

Don't you appreciate someone who really loves their job?

I sure do!

Thanks Angie, for taking the curse off the flight and helping us, through humor, get over the frustration of the one and a half hour flight delay.

No comments: