Entered on 28 June 2004 at 9:06 a.m..
On the Tarmac
Most of you know that this weekend I attended the wedding of a high school friend of mine up in Princeton, NJ. It was great and I will discuss it later when I post the pictures. Today however I would prefer to tell you about the day after the wedding when Brian and I learned exactly what it would be like to fly Airtran, Ryan Air or Easy Jet trans-atlantic. That's right folks we sat in an airplane for 6 hours and 30 minutes. In that time we received 18 oz of liquid and (thanks to me) 2 1 oz. packages of pretzels. It was a good diet day. So how did this happen you ask? Well put simply there were two primary causes: 1) horrendous thunder storms over atlanta 2)any lack of discernable contingency plan by AirTran.
Let me tell you in more detail the events that transpired yesterday, while I ask you to bear in mind that our flight was scheduled from 2:31 to 5:00. A schedule which inclded 30 minutes of padding.
We did not actually board the plane until 3:00. At around 3:20 we pushed back from the gate, having been told that ATL was in a ground delay program (where they give all the planes on the ground scheduled to fly somewhere a specific time to take off, to keep the airport from being overwhelmed). Our "wheels up" time was scheduled for 3:45. We then proceeded to take a ground tour of Newark airport until coming to a complete stop in the middle of nowhere 7 minutes later. The pilot then informed us that ATL had gone to a full ground stop (all aircraft not in the air are then held on the ground) We sat on the tarmac like good little children until around 5:00 when we were finally released. We took off at around 5:20, and were on our way to Atlanta. We were held up again 120 miles out at the second tier markers, meaning that there were already aircraft holding at the inner markers. Sometime around 6:50 we were cleared to land, then ATL went into another ground stop (only we weren't on the ground). A big thunder cell had moved over atlanta again. So since we were low on fuel (which will happen when you sit on the ground for 2 hours) we had to be diverted to take on more fuel. We were diverted to Chatanooga. We were held on board the aircraft because "since airtran does not conduct normal operations at Chatanooga, there were no security personel to screen us back on board." We sat there for over 2 hours. There was no more water (except for emergency cases) and no more food. The flight crew had been working since before 7 that morning, and the pilots weren't able to time out since we'd left within their 8 hour window and this minor ground stop didn't count as a second leg. Then finally around 8:40 we got the green light to head back to atlanta. We finally arrived at 9:45 to a bursting airport. You have to realize that at this point our flight was 5 hours late. 5 hours! The airport looked like it does during a holiday which has gone horribly wrong. Brian and I went to bagage claim to retrieve our lone bag that had prevented us from getting off the plane in Chattanooga, and finally made it home by about 11pm.