December 13, 2013

Let It Snow

Let It Snow

For as long as I can remember I’ve traveled for business. It’s usually an uneventful process, but Tuesday this week was the exception. I’ve been doing the JFK/LAX round trip about eight times a year since 2002. It’s usually the same routine on the same flights: American flight #1 at 9am from JFK to LAX, and then return flight #118 at 7am from LAX to JFK. Tuesday there, Friday back home

For those of you who remember Tuesday’s weather in NYC, we had between 3-5 inches of snow. If you ask my older children, Isaac and Leo, they can attest to the fact that I’ve missed almost every major weather event in the NY area for as long as they can remember. Snow storms, hurricanes, earthquakes (yes, we’ve had one or two minor ones over the years) — I’ve missed most. Not Tuesday morning. This time, I was on a 767 at JFK.

The day started out routinely enough. My wife Tracy nudged me at 6:08am, two minutes before my 6:10am alarm was set to go off. A quick shower, shave, kiss good-bye and a click of the UBER app on my iPhone, and it was off to JFK by 6:40am without waking my three sleeping young children, quite an accomplishment if I say so myself.

A quick 30-minute ride to JFK, on the phone the whole way with a client who really needed me (yes, at 6:40am). No snow in sight. An uneventful check-in at American and an equally uneventful trip through the TSA’s Pre-Check line had me in the American Flagship Lounge by 7:30am. So far, so good. Still no snow.

By 8:30am it was time to board flight #1, and light snow flurries had started to fall. By the time the door closed just before 9am, the pilot announced they were going to de-ice the plane and taxi out to the runway. By 9:30am, we were #2 for take-off, and it looked like we were good to go, until the next announcement from the flight deck.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. As you can see out the windows, the snow has increased from moderate to heavy, so we’re not able to take off at this time. We’re going to head back to the gate, check with operations, and as soon as we can, head back out and take off.”

So back to the gate we went. They kept us on the plane because “it looks like the storm is moving to the northeast, and we should be back underway shortly.” Shortly turned out to be 11:15am, when the pilot got back on the PA and announced that “the weather has cleared enough for us to leave, but one of our taxi lights is out. Maintenance has been called, it should be just about 20 minutes and we’ll be underway. Sorry for the inconvenience.” About 11:40am the pilot was back. “All good to go ladies and gentlemen, just completing some paperwork and we’ll be pushing back.”

12:15pm. The pilot was back once more, saying “We’ve been waiting for a crew to push us back for over 30 minutes. The tower assures us one will be here momentarily.” We finally pushed back at 12:25pm, got another quick de-icing, and as they say, were “wheels up” at 12:40pm, a full six hours after I left my apartment in NYC and 3 hours 40 minutes after our scheduled departure. Total flight time was projected at 5 hrs. 59 min., for a local arrival time at LAX of 3:40pm. I missed my 3pm meeting in Irvine, but at least I made my 6pm dinner.

So, every once in a while, the routine becomes the interesting. The good news is we took off without a hitch, everything that happened was out of anyone’s control, and assuming it is not snowing in Los Angeles, you’ll be reading this as I take off on flight #118 today, hopefully on time and uneventfully, for my trip back home.

Have a good weekend everyone!

P.S. We did land at 3:50pm LA time. We were taxiing when the pilot announced, “Welcome to Los Angeles. We are truly sorry about this morning’s inconvenience. Our arrival gate is 46B but, as fate would have it, the gate is occupied, so it’s going to be another 15 minutes or so before we can taxi to the gate. Please remain seated and thank you for flying American.”

You really can’t make some of this stuff up. We finally de-planed at 4:15pm LA time, 12 hours 35 minutes after I left home.