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Fear of Flying – United

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The tale I’m about to tell is comical; living it was farcical; and to me it was also frightening.

What would your reaction be if after your flight has already been delayed by an hour, you’ve finally been seated on a commercial airliner, and the Captain makes an announcement that there is a weight distribution problem on your “potential” flight?

– The flight was being delayed while calculations were being made to determine if this airplane could safely fly to its scheduled destination. – Say WHAT?

Indeed, not only that, but as they were making these calculations, they were determining how many of the already ticketed passengers still waiting in the airport terminal’s boarding area were going to be allowed to board this airplane. – Say WHAT?

Yup, there were still passengers, with boarding passes in hand, waiting to see if they were going to be bumped from their flight; not because the airplane was oversold, but because the flight was overweight. – Say WHAT?

The flight deck then explained the reasoning for this situation; there was a possibility of thunderstorms in the area of our scheduled destination, and that this airplane does not generally carry enough fuel to go elsewhere if the flight is diverted due to weather. – Say WHAT?

I was seated in seat 1A. The cockpit door was open. I began listening to the discussions amongst the Captain, Co-pilot and crew very intently, along with the discussions with the bevy of airline personnel, some in orange safety vests, and some in suits, who were continuously getting on and off the airplane, in and out of the cockpit.

Eventually they began to allow some of the waiting passengers to board. Two gentleman walked onboard; both over six feet tall, and I estimated both well over 200 lbs. I, somewhat jokingly, asked the flight attendant if they had been weighed.

I overheard a comment from the Captain saying they really shouldn’t be flying this type of aircraft on a flight of this length (3 hours). -Say WHAT?

As I sat there, I nervously joked with one of the flight attendants about the continuing farce of preparing this flight for its departure, and she told me they have had incidents on this airplane, when they have had to have passengers seated near the front of the airplane move to the rear of the airplane, to enable it to take off. – Say WHAT?

After further delay, we pulled back from the gangway, to depart. I have no idea if we left passengers in the terminal, or not. We backed out about 50 yards, when, once again, the Captain’s voice came over the public address system; the airplane now had a mechanical issue.

By this time I was in desperate need of a shower to rid myself of the 42 gallons of sweat my body was covered in.

The Captain tried to assure us that he believed the mechanical problem required a simple fix, and we’d be departing shortly.

After about 20 minutes, the Captain came out of the cockpit, and walked off the airplane. – Say WHAT?

I asked the flight attendant if he had decided to leave. He had the option. I did not!

At this point, convinced (or hoping) that this flight would not depart, I was texting with Mrs. Kuki, asking her to call United, tell them where I was, and to attempt to get me booked on a real airplane later.

Almost sadly, the Captain did come back on the aircraft, and eventually we did attempt to take off.

With what I believe was simply good luck, we did get off the ground.

I assume the reason the flight did make it to its destination was the 22 lbs. I lost in sweat during the flight. I have never been so enthusiastic about getting off of an airplane!

Today’s adventure took place because United Airlines chooses to fly a CRJ700 Canadair Regional Jet, which it appears can not entirely safely be flown the distance of its scheduled itinerary.

As I left the aircraft, I did tell them that they were probably very lucky they chose to fly such a small aircraft on this itinerary, as they only had 50 people onboard who would likely never fly United again, rather than several hundred who may have been on a real airplane.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –




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