The Loon was 5 minutes from being stranded in the US but thanks to a very persistent American Airlines pilot I was able to get home. It started on the Baltimore tarmac. We were lined up on the runway, the very next to take off, when the pilot announced that Fort Worth Airport had just closed due to thunder storms. For two hours we all sat in the plane on the tarmac, while other planes took off around us. Evidently in the US you can’t go back to the gate until you have sat on the tarmac for 2 hours. My connecting flight was due to take off in three hours. The pilot, who was trying desperately to get us to Dallas, then announced that we would be taking off in 20 minutes.
Forty minutes went by, when a very angry pilot announced that the airport had reopened but the air traffic controllers had told him the plane would have to take an alternative route. A route that was impossible because the plane didn’t have enough fuel to reach the destination. I think his words were “incompetent idiots”.
Another 10 minutes went by and the pilot announced that he was given two options, either fly the route given by removing 55 passengers or fly to Houston and refuel before flying on to Dallas. He was so pissed by then he decided to take the plane back to the gate (which he was now legally allowed to do) and stormed off the plane to sort it out personally (as we sat like fools nursing our deep vein thrombosis).
Another 10 minutes went by when a still very angry pilot returned saying he couldn’t get them to understand logic so we were flying to Houston. However, before we took off the pilot programmed several routes into the plane data just in case they came to their senses while we were in mid air. Smart little cookie, as 30 minutes into the flight he announced we could now fly directly to Fort Worth. A choice set of words were then muttered by the pilot, to which he received a rousing round of applause. We had boarded the plane at 3.45pm (for a 2 hour flight) and we touched down at 9.45pm.
My connecting flight (an international flight) was due to leave at 9.55pm. This did not look good. When we exited the aircraft a rather enormous effeminate young man in trackie daks with a Qantas paddle screamed for the 7 passengers on the Qantas flight to run with him (think Cam from Modern Family) . He took off like Usain Bolt while we all trudged behind carrying our hand luggage and desperately searching for our passports. How the hell were we going to get through customs and security?
Onto a transit train we hopped with the sweating , puffing Qantas paddleman screaming through his walkie talkie to hold the plane. He kept muttering to himself , they aren’t going to hold it, they aren’t going to hold it, as sweat dripped from his forehead. We had four stops to go. When the doors finally opened his voice went another octave higher as he screamed “run, if they see you they can’t take off”. Off he waddled waving his paddle and screaming to us move it people. I have no idea how we got on the plane without going through customs but we boarded with seconds to spare . The plane was half empty. Evidently, we were the only flight that had made it into Fort Worth/Dallas that night and the Qantas flight was the only one to leave.
So to the pilot of American Airlines and the effeminate young man with the Qantas paddle, you are both legends.