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Tuesday, November 16, 2010  

Denver Scramble

Last month, our flight back to Minneapolis from Denver was delayed by an hour or so, which isn't unusual to anybody who has ever flown anywhere ever. In even less surprising news, the given reason was weather, because the given reason is always weather, even if you land in sunny postcard-perfect conditions. At three in the morning.

It was supposed to be about a two-hour flight, which isn't even long enough to wear out the batteries on M. Edium's portable DVD player. There was a slightly unusual announcement from the cockpit a bit before we were supposed to land, though. Due to the windy conditions -- which you may have read about at the time -- all the runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul International were shut down save one. Which meant a long wait before we could land. Two hours, in fact, circling over the city. Problem was, we didn't have fuel for two hours of flight.

Long pause.

Okay, actually, the captain didn't pause at all. But it's kind of amazing how quickly your brain works while you're waiting to hear what comes next. Especially if you're sitting next to your six-year-old son, who's also waiting to hear what comes next. Or, in Trash's case, if you're sitting next to your eight-year-old niece Deniece (who was already in an emotionally raw place as a result of the TSA confiscating her new miniature snowglobe ornaments because the combined tablespoon of liquid in them were a security risk), who is really not all that interested in having to wait much longer to see her parents after four days away from home.

Anyway, rather than waiting in queue for the ninety minutes of powered flight we had left and then attempting to glide in circles for the next thirty until we could land, we were redirected to La Crosse, Wisconsin. That's about two hours southeast of home, just on the other side of the state line. Landing at a municipal airport on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River wasn't exactly what we'd expected, but I guess it was better than setting down on I-94 or something.

That's when the waiting started. We've all heard the horror stories of people trapped in planes on the ground for longer than a Wal-Mart work shift, but I have to admit it wasn't that bad. There were a few reasons for this.

1. The plane wasn't that full to begin with. M. Edium and I had a group of three seats to ourselves. Or, more accurately, a seat for me, a seat for him, and a seat for his increasingly large group of stuffed "friends."
2. The plane got emptier after we landed. Passengers were given the option of bailing out and getting themselves home. Which, since it was only a two-hour drive and the wait on the ground might be indefinite, a fair number of people went for. We stuck it out, which was good because at that rinky-dink little airport, the rental cars got snapped up like Justin Beiber tickets. The fun part was that since the airport didn't have a gate available, passengers had to disembark through the tail cone. I've never seen out the back of a plane like that, and I'm glad it was on the ground when I did.
3. iPhones. Not too long ago, if you were sitting on the tarmac you were cut off from the outside world other than whatever dribs and drabs of information the flight crew saw fit to trickle out to you. But since most people on the flight were pretty well wired, updates were easy to both come by and disseminate. We got weather reports, flight status, and celebrity gossip.
4. Freedom of movement. You think of being stuck on the tarmac for multiple hours, and you think of being strapped into that uncomfortable chair the whole time. Not the case for us. Even if the four of us had had only four seats between us instead of the five, we got to walk around plenty. M. Edium went to the bathroom twice, although I think the second time was just to look out of the back of the plane again. There's a downside to this; if you can walk up and down the aisle, so can everyone else, and it got a little crowded at times. But everyone was as respectful of everyone else's limited space as they could be, just like a seasoned submarine crew or a box of Oreos. Except that guy who kept wandering back from First Class with his beer. I wouldn't have minded someone strapping him to his chair.
5. Well-behaved children. Not just the ones with us, either; all six of the kids on the plane under ten were calm, quiet, and not even remotely piercing. There was one girl with a five-syllable name who made a break for it up the aisle at one point, but she didn't get far and allowed herself to be apprehended quietly.
6. A wait of only two hours instead of eight. While we were sitting there assuming our takeoff time would continue being pushed off indefinitely until rental cars started coming back, the captain suddenly gave the order over the intercom for the flight attendants to prepare for takeoff, and we were in the air ten minutes later. Which brings me to the last reason this wait wasn't so bad:
7. No fear of death. Sitting on the tarmac, while tedious, is less stressful than sitting on an airplane that's landing in what we later learned would be considered hurricane conditions had we been over an ocean. Trash and I, on our separate sides of the aisle, white-knuckled it the whole long, motion-sickening way to the ground while the kids happily compared it to being on a roller coaster. Thank God children are stupid.

By the time we got home, five hours later than scheduled (but still a few hours sooner than we would have had we simply driven home from Denver), Trash and I agreed that we weren't going anywhere for a while. At least not by plane. If we really need to travel, we can drive. Yes, we'll miss out on the crotch-groping that I've been hearing about lately, but I promised Trash I'd find a way to make that up to her.

posted by M. Giant 7:14 PM 1 comments


This is the first post of yours that I read when I linked over here from TWOP (from your Burn Notice recaps, if you're interested) and it was so entertaining that I went aaaaaaaalll the way back in your archives to the very beginning and started reading from there. You know what? This blog is awesome. It's made me laugh so hard I almost peed, and it's made me cry so hard I wasn't able to see the words anymore. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you've put into this. It's provided a lot of entertainment and education (especially when it comes to having a kid - I'm preggers with my first) to me over the last few months.


PS - Reading this back over, I realise that I totally sound like a stalker, but I swear I'm not.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 5, 2011 at 8:58 PM  

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