The Glamor of Business TravelS
o I had a flight out to Seattle scheduled for Sunday. There's an IT-related event hosted by one of the big software vendors (I'm sure you can guess which one in under three tries) to which I was an invitee. The flight was scheduled to leave my city -- which is in the northeastern quadrant of the Midwest -- at 4:40pm EST, arriving at SeaTac at 6:55pm PST or thereabouts. Here's a chronology of the trip... and all times are Eastern, for consistency's sake -- and because that's simply the way the world should operate.
3:30 PM - I arrive at the airport and realize I have forgotten to upgrade to first-class. My attempt is politely rebuffed: "the entire flight is booked and is oversold, in fact."
4:21 PM - Boarding begins. I am in "zone 5", which is akin to being the United Nations representative from the Isle of Man - back o' the bus.
4:53 PM - Everyone is crammed aboard. I'm in an aisle seat, parked next to a middle-aged lady who is about a hundred-or-so pounds overweight and -- as an added bonus -- has a hacking cough. I can fit about a quarter of my arm on the steel armrest, which is also straining to support the overflow of her midsection.
5:02 PM - Pushback from the gate. Taxiing begins. Air temperature inside the cabin - a balmy 82% with high humidity.
5:07 PM - Taxiing ends. Announcement from the Captain: "We have some engine warning lights on. We're going to park here for a few minutes while the maintenance crew takes a look and tries to reset them. Usually this takes just a few minutes and there's really no problem."
5:16 PM - We're hearing buzzing underneath the plane as the maintenance crew tries to reset the warning lights.
5:25 PM - Äir temperature - 83%. Announcement from the Captain: "Well, that didn't work. The maintenance crew is going to replace an engine-control circuit board to see if that fixes the problem. This really won't take too long. Update in a couple of minutes."
5:40 PM - Air temperature - 84%. Announcement from the Captain: "Okay, they've got the circuit board. But to replace it, they're going to have to turn off all power to the plane for a few minutes. Otherwise, they might have a 'shocking' experience. So in a few minutes, the lights and everything will go off, but they should come back on in just a couple of minutes."
5:43 PM - Air temperature - 86. The plane goes dark. The fan, which had been pushing around moist, hot air (isn't that the best kind?), stops. My next-door neighbor erupts in a hacking cough.
5:46 PM - Air temperature - 88. The lights come back on. Moist air circulation resumes. My next-door neighbor nearly knocks the wind out of me while searching in her pockets for a lozenge.
5:49 PM - Air temperature - 89. The Captain: "Well, that didn't quite do it. We're going to head back to the gate and see what control recommends."
6:12 PM - Temperatures are cooling as we arrive at the gate and the door opens. My neighbor commemorates the event with a vicious coughing fit. Fortunately, it's not a phlegmy cough, it's a dry cough.
6:33 PM - We deplane. Another piece of equipment (apparently, this means another "airplane") has been located and is going to pull into a nearby gate.
6:51 PM - The other plane arrives. Its passengers deplane and we're notified that, after cleaning and re-provisioning, we'll be permitted to board.
7:23 PM - Boarding begins on the replacement
7:44 PM - Boarding finishes. My neighbor resumes a coughing fit as I crack open my book, ironically entitled, "The Great Influenza" (subtitle: 'The epic story of the deadliest plague in history').
7:50 PM - We begin taxiing.
8:02 PM - The captain announces that we're third in line for takeoff.
8:06 PM - We're second in line for takeoff. I high-five my neighbor when the Captain announces this. Uhm, actually, my neighbor just expectorates into a handkerchief.
8:10 PM - We lift off.
9:00 PM - The feature film - Batman Begins - well, begins. And (sweet!) complimentary headphones!
9:03 PM - The screen goes to black.
9:09 PM - The feature film begins again.
9:11 PM - The screen goes black again.
9:15 PM - The flim begins again.
9:19 PM - The screen goes black.
9:21 PM - The film begins again.
9:24 PM - The screen goes black, this time with a white line in the middle of all of the screens. I pull off my headphones.
9:30 PM - The film begins again. I put my headphones back on.
9:33 PM - The screen goes dead once more. I wonder whether I should leave the headphones back on.
9:36 PM - The film begins again.
9:39 PM - The screen goes black. I can swear that the flight staff is teasing us.
9:43 PM - The film begins again. This time, it seems to take.
12:30 AM - We touch down at SeaTac.
1:00 AM - My traveling partner's checked bag is nowhere to be found. We report it to the lost baggage office.
1:20 AM - House Shiraz at the Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Seattle, the only place in the area serving dinner after 10PM PST.
Ah, the glamor of business travel. Nothing like it.