Karen and I had a departing flight from London's Heathrow Airport at 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, November 7. We arrived at the airport around 9:00 a.m. which gave us plenty of time to check in, go through security, have a light breakfast and even do some last minute shopping in the airport. We headed to the gate to begin boarding around 11:00 a.m.
We got on the plane and got all situated. Situated in our tee-tiny seats. We watched others get on and get situated. We waited....and according to our watches, it was almost time to start pulling away from the gate. We waited and waited.
And then the friendly voice of the pilot came on over the intercom and stated that there had been a slight incident with the baggage....and that pictures had been emailed to Houston and they were waiting on an answer. "Folks, it looks like it will be about 30 minutes. We'll let you know as soon as we hear back from Houston."
Baggage? Slight incident? What...the baggage spilled open? The baggage is ugly? What is a slight incident?
Okay. Thirty minutes go by. Another announcement. Still waiting to hear back from Houston. It's going to be another 30 minutes.
Okay....ditto the above paragraph.
Then after 2 hours on the parked plane, the pilot comes on and tells us, "Folks, we need you to evacuate the plane.... get all of your belongings and take them with you. ....you will be given a food voucher for 5 pounds (a little under $7) for a refreshment. We will be updating the situation as soon as we know something."
And so we get off....and wait....and wait. People are asking questions...lots of questions. Airline employees are being vague.
Just what is this slight incident with the baggage?
We are finally told that the baggage handler drove the cart into the aircraft and put a dent in the tail. Well, WE aren't really told....it was sort of spread like gossip through all the waiting passengers. Wow.
And then they tell us that engineers are being called in to do a compression test....to see if the dent will turn into a hole at 40,000 feet. Again, we get this information from other passengers who heard it from other passengers.
Really? A hole? In a airplane? At 40,000 feet? That would be a possibility? That doesn't sound good.
Fast forward 4 hours...oh, you get to fast forward....but we were in slow motion those 4 hours.
Four hours filled with spending our food voucher at an airport restaurant, shopping for nothing at the few airport shops, sitting, walking and doing lots of sighing.
Finally, the engineers gave it the big okay and we were told to prepare to board the plane again.
Here's the thing. We (about 200 of us) were sooooo ready to just get on a plane that was heading towards the states...that we didn't really care that there was a slight chance this plane could blow a hole. I was in a total state of TRUST. Trust in an engineer who we never even saw. I mean...is he smart? Is he experienced? Shouldn't he have to get on the plane with us?
But like cows....we just all got prodded back on the plane with dumb looks on our faces. Tired, dumb looks. We finally pushed away from the gate around 5:30 p.m. And with the exception of one big drop/turbulence while flying over the OCEAN....we had a good flight....no hole....and landed in Houston safely at 9:45 p.m......3:45 a.m. London time....almost 19 hours after arriving at the airport that morning. Wow.
I did call Chuck as soon as they evacuated the plane to let him know we would be late and to watch for information on the airline website.
This is what I said: There's been a problem with the plane. Someone ran into the plane with the baggage cart and they are waiting on help from Houston.
This is what he heard: There's been a problem with the plane. Someone ran into the baggage area on the plane and they are waiting on help.....
He thought a person had run into the baggage area of the plane and was hiding. He thought surely this would make the news....so he watched for it all day. Nope, nothing so exciting. Just lots and lots of waiting.
I can tell you now that I was secretly hoping we might just be put up in a hotel for the night....just one more night in London.