Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Terminal: victims of a software glitch

It started out simply enough -- with a decision to go to a conference. My flight was supposed to leave at 2:00pm but was an hour late due to, we were told, bad weather in Atlanta. Finally we arrived in Atlanta and ran to catch the train to take us to the correct concourse for our connecting flight -- thank God I was wearing my tennis shoes instead of my Birkenstocks! Miraculously, it hadn't left yet. Yay, we thought. When we heard the boarding call, we thought we were safe (that'll teach us) and we got on the plane. Everyone was sitting down, all buckled in for the flight, when the captain announced that the flight had been cancelled because the plane had been on the ground too long. We were directed to take another flight.

More running ensued so my friend and I could make sure that we were able to get on the new flight. Since all the people from our previous flight were going to the same place, we thought we'd be lucky if we got on the plane. And believe it or not, we were lucky. We were the last two people to be allowed to board. I've never been a lucky person so I shouldn't have been astounded when, after we'd called our husbands to let them know we were on the plane, the flight attendant called my name and my friend's name and told us to bring our baggage to the front. They took us off of the plane because they'd let too many people on! That's right -- they really did.

Because they'd taken us off the plane, the airline was going to put us up in a hotel, but they called around and all of their blocks of rooms were taken. They booked us on a flight for the early morning and told us since so many other people were in the same predicament, we needed to be back to the airport by 4:30am. Hell! It was already 11:30 at night. We figured that we needed beer more than sleep. Every place we went to was closing as we got there. Finally we ran into a Navy guy and a Coast Guard guy who were also looking for beer and they found it. We spent the night in the airport talking to them and to other people who came over -- the military guys were really nice and bought everyone a round and invited people to sit at our table with us. It made the experience not as bad as it could've been. I was afraid for awhile that I was going to be the star of my own personal version of Stephen Spielberg's movie Terminal; I certainly felt like I was.

In the morning our flight boarded on time and we got to Chicago. That's when I heard on CNN that what had happened was a security person had seen a suspicious package and all of the protocols they are supposed to follow were used. But apparently, this suspicious package wasn't real -- it was a test. Test images, according to what I heard, usually have a message across them mentioning they are tests. This image did not. So my residence in the Atlanta airport was all courtesy of a software glitch.


BabelBabe said...

"This is a test, this is only a test. If it were an actual emergency, you would have been permitted to board your plane and arrive at your destination on time. Thank you."

WTF - it had been on the ground too long? That's BIZARRE.

Katya said...

It was a really crappy trip -- and this is the short version. :) I left out all the hotel stuff once we got to Chicago.

Apparently if a plane is on the ground over a specified number of hours it has to be reinspected or something like that -- I least that's what I understood the pilot to say.