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Two Interesting Flying Experiences

Up, Up, and Away - or Not?
Two Stories

The first was on one of the times Bonnie and I flew to England to be with Robert and Natalie and their family. The flight began in Tampa, of course, and then on to New York, where there was a change of planes for the trans-Atlantic flight in to Birmingham.

But the flight out of Tampa was late, and we found ourselves racing through the New York airport to catch our connecting flight. We got there, and saw the plane still parked at the gate. But the flight personnel checking people onto the plane had closed the boarding door. We found ourselves pleading and begging to be boarded on the plane. Missing that flight would mean finding a place to stay in New york as the next flight was not until the same time the next day. No luck whatsoever.

But guess what happened? Evidently passengers on the plane had asked for blankets, and the flight crew had determined that they were not enough blankets on the plane so they had to get more blankets. In order to get blankets, they had to come back out into the terminal. In order to get back in the terminal, they had to open the boarding door. When that door was open, Walla, we were then admitted onto the flight. Praise the Lord!!!

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The second situation occurred when Joyce and I were attempting to return to Tampa from Indianapolis where we had just completed celebrating Nannyís 100th Birthday Anniversary. Our flight home was scheduled to depart Indianapolis at 8:52 PM. But there was rough weather in the Florida Panhandle and we kept getting notifications of delays and further delays on the flight.

We finally decided to head to the airport and got there courtesy of Ellen at around 10 PM for a flight now delayed until 11:40 PM. As we approached the Southwest counter, the three people there said some like, "Oh, you two must be among the last three passengers on this flight." We then learned it all but three people on the flight to Tampa had bailed and scheduled other flights, being certain that this particular flight to Tampa would be canceled. But Joyce and I decided to wait just to see what would happen. We had decided that if worse came to worst we would stay at a nearby hotel in order to be able to get up early to catch the next flight into Tampa which departed something like 6:40 AM the next morning. I was pretty much convinced that cab Southwest would not fly a plane to Tampa with just three passengers, so I was ready for bad news at any time.

But upon visiting the counter about 30 minutes later, I found that Southwest was bringing in a reserve crew from Orlando! Joyce especially took that as very good news, thinking that Southwest would, in fact, fly the plane that night, probably because it was needed in Tampa first thing the next morning.

So we headed for the boarding gate and but found that the TSA checkpoint was closed! Our understanding had been that TSA kept the checkpoint open till 11:30 PM and we were well ahead of that. Thankfully there were three TSA personnel cleaning up the area when we approached and they told us they had closed because there were no more flights out of Indianapolis that night. Oh no, we pleaded, there was one more flight going to Tampa. They were mostly unconvinced but did check us through.

Cleared by TSA we headed for the boarding area, and when we arrived it was completely deserted - there wasn't even a clean up crew that we could see. We walked to our boarding gate and found one person sitting there. It was a man and he was wearing a white shirt with epaulets that had four stripes. I approached him and asked if, by chance, he would be flying a plane to Tampa that night. "Oh yes," he replied.

Jay and Joyce danced for joy. Eventually the flight coming in from Tampa that was delayed over three hours finally arrived. Soon it was time for boarding: jay and Joyce and two pilots dead-heading back to Tampa. The Southwest flight crew was really surprised to find they had just four passengers but we got the full treatment as we sat in the first class seats. The flight was smooth and arrived uneventfully but very late in Tampa, but it did arrive. Missing that plane would not have been a catastrophe, but it would have been a lot of trouble. Thank the Lord we made that flight!!!

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