The worst plane flight of my life

March 1 2009

Last week I made a trip to New York City to visit a new customer. I went for two nights and my fellow PSC guy (and boss) Alex Kassabov came out for one night. We ended up finishing about 3:30 PM Eastern time and headed to New York LaGuardia early. We both had flights around 7:30 PM and wanted to try to get on earlier flights. Turns out there was bad weather in the midwest - rain, wind, and even some thunder & lightning. Lots of planes were getting delayed and the stand-by lines were filling up. I was traveling American Airlines and Alex was on United. That means we were in different terminals.

With all of the travel that I do, I have an Admirals Club membership. So here I was, tweeting away, making Alex frustrated on Twitter (while others laughed) that I had access to beer. I also was able to ask for the first CONFIRMED seat due to my status. Alex was going standby. I should have waiting for my original flight .. but I got on a 5:10 flight that ended up taking off at 7:30.

About a hour into the flight the captain came over the intercom to tell us he was asking the flight attendants to sit down and buckle up. Some weather had appeared on the radar that was not there when they took off. We flew the rest of the trip to Chicago with everyone in their seats - which ended up being 90 minutes not a hour. This was not a MD80 - this was a 737 plane. 6 across. Not a small plane at all.

So in those 90 minutes I saw more people hold armrests like never before. Multiple people throwing up. People praying out loud and scared. Even some crying. The bumpiest flight I have ever been on - the tossing and turning and drops were out of control. I saw more lighting - and very close flashes - than ever before on a flight. We missed a first approach out over Lake Michigan and we turned away from a landing once as well. When the captain came announced

"folks, we are going to land this time. I am asking the flight attendants not to get up and do their final pass. If you have any trash, please put it in your seat pocket. Please drink the liquids and any ice throw on the ground. If you have bags you took out during the flight or your in a bulkhead, just hold them with your feet. Prepare to land"

Yeah, I was scared. I have not heard clapping and cheering once we touched down like this before. As we were taxiing to the gate, the flight attendant sitting closest to us told us it was the worst flight she had ever been on. The captain came over the speaker and told us it was the worst flight he had ever been on. As we got off, I saw a group of 15 head straight to the bar across from the gate we came out of.

Alex got home much later than I did, but he got the better deal. Once I got home Thursday night, I needed a few drinks to stop from shaking. Wow.