|THE FLIGHT FROM HELL
||[Dec. 31st, 2005|07:16 pm]
שירן shiranne シラーン 冉施安
By Shiranne Radzinski
[No LJ cut. Too angry.]
Our trips from Israel to California typically take about 24 hours, door to door. We go on two flights, usually stopping in New York, Toronto, or somewhere in Europe. This trip was pretty interesting, actually, because we traveled to Israel by flying to JFK with Delta/Song and then going to Tel Aviv with El Al, but we flew back with El Al to Newark, and then United to San Francisco with a short stop in Denver. I'm sorry, did I say short? No, no. Not short. Not short at all.
The El Al flight was fine. The half-flight from Newark to Denver was fine. Actually, it was awesome, because my seat was by an emergency exit, so I had tons of leg room. Once we got to Denver everything fell apart.
First of all, I didn't realize we had to get out of the plane when we got to Denver. I'm almost 100% positive that I've been on flights with stops where some people get off and some people just stay on and wait. Okay, whatever. We got off at Denver. I was pretty sleepy... I had planned out my jet-lag avoiding sleep schedule so that I'd sleep most of the way from New York to San Francsico, and the stop in Denver was most definitely disrupting my plan.
We get to Denver, we have to get off of the plane, my brother realizes he forgot all the water we bought on the plane, runs back on and brings it back, and we all head over to a new gate to get on a new plane that'll take us back home. My dad goes over and changes the unofficial seating swap he did to sit next to my sister to an official one. We get back on the plane with our old and new boarding passes and settle down.
Then they announce that there's some kind of a technical difficulty. Grumbling, we all get ourselves unsettled, and get back off the plane. "We'll find another plane soon," they tell us. Okay, fine. Things happen. Whatever. We wait and wait and wait. I charge my computer and my iPod for a little while. No free wireless, although somehow I can still see other libraries on iTunes. Whatever.
They bring us another plane. Again, the boarding thing with the boarding passes. The settling thing. The putting bags in their places and taking shoes off thing. At least we didn't have to look for our seats.
We sit for a little while longer, and soon enough they announce something along the lines of, "Oh noes! This one also has a problem! We're sorrieseses!!!111"
Okay, yeah. We're whiny, annoyed, tired, upset, and every frustration-related adjective ever. We got off the plane from Newark at around 10 am Denver time. By now it's about 2:45. They tell us that they'll either have the problem all fixed by 3:00 or there'll be a new plane that's coming up from L.A. by 3:00. Of course, they don't manage to fix it, and of course, the other plane takes a little longer to arrive. In the meantime I downloaded some songs from other iTunes libraries. My dad translates for a paramedic and a sick Spanish-speaking woman who is trying to get to her doctor in Burbank.
The plane came, and again, the boarding and the settling, and the shoes, and everything. This time I turn to my brother and I inform him that the reason I am taking my shoes off is to declare this time to be the last time I'm boarding a plane to San Francisco today.
And I'm feeling so uncomfortable at this point. Shabbat is totally about to come in, and we haven't even reached San Francisco yet, let alone gotten home and all ready for it. I don't fly on Shabbat. I don't get driven on Shabbat. I tell my dad that maybe we should just go find a hotel... He says it's too late already. We might as well just try to get home and start Shabbat as soon as possible.
Ah, the foolishness of me. I suppose I am too naïve. Too inexperienced after my 150-or-so flights in my lifetime. (My dad counts them. I should check what my number is exactly.)
We got onto the runway! The plane was fine and ready go! The passengers were all definitely fine and more than ready to go already! We're told we have a 40 minute wait until we can actually fly out. Something to do with openings for landing in San Francisco. This is disappointing enough.
But what came next was the blow of all blows. The captain comes on the speaker, and sorrowfully informs us that the crew on the plane is no longer legally allowed to fly with us to San Francisco, because they have been on the plane for too long. I cried.
Back to the gate, back to the airport. The yelling begins. "You guys are idiots!" We all sit around and joke and guess what the next problem is going to be. It takes them forever to find a new crew. At some point a woman comes on and tells us, "Oh yeah, we actually needed two more crewmembers, not one, so we're still waiting." The captain comes out and tells us that if anyone starts any trouble he has cops by the entrance to the plane and he'll have us kicked off the plane. It was out of place...
Finally we got a new crew. When they repeated all the plane nonesense they have to tell you before liftoff everyone was grumbling. We had heard it so many times by now. When the plane lifted off everyone clapped. We all clapped when we landed in the pouring rain, too.
9:30 pm California time. Five hours after Shabbat was in. We got off a plane 4 times in Denver. We didn't get to light Hannukah candles either. :(
I'm never flying through Denver again. I'm never flying United again. 32 hours from Tel Aviv to San Francisco is a little much.