"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


ON THE ONE HAND, I'm not the kind of guy to run a police road block.  But on the other side, if there IS a way to work around a roadblock, of any kind, I'd like to explore it.

I've been flying for 45 years, it used to be easier to change flights, there wasn't a whole lot of problems in changing not only flights but carriers..  My most interesting experience happened on a flight scheduled to leave the East Coast and fly into Eureka on the NoCal coast for my Dad's college graduation.

I flew United down to Orlando to catch a Non-Stop to San Francisco and then on to Eureka.  The flight is on time, I have only a carry-on, I never take luggage if I can help it. After landing I walk over to the gate holding the plane headed for San Francisco.  It's a very big plane and they start loading early.  I get  in one of the cheap seats towards the back; they are using both front and rear doors to load.  We all get seated, the doors are closed and we sit there for a bit.  The Captain comes on to announce we're free to wander around the cabin and at the same time, the flight attendants re-open the doors.  That's generally a sign that all is not well.   Being restless I walk to the back door ask the attendant if I can step out.  She says, "Sure."  I walk up the jetway and as I near the desk hearing another flight attendant say to the desk attendant, "I guess we're not going anywhere soon."

I'm immediately thinking, "Oh No.  We could be here for hours."  Across the hallway is another big United Jet headed for Los Angeles.  It appears everyone is boarded and they're getting ready to close the door.  I ask my gate attendant, "Can you get me to San Francisco by the jet going to L.A.?"  She says, "Did you check any luggage?"  I told her no, she said, "If you've got a carry-on got get it now.  Hurry.  I'll see if there are any seats."  I rush back down the jetway, grab my bag (with at least 50 people watching me intently) and head back up the jetway running.  As I enter the hall the L.A. flight attendant is yelling at me to "come on."  I rush across the hallway and as I am about to enter the plane the gate attendant at the San Francisco desk yells, "What is your name."  All of this had taken place within a couple of minutes and they got me a seat on the plane to L.A. before they even knew what my name was.  I looked over my shoulder, yelled  my name, ran down the jetway, was pointed towards a seat, buckled up and we were off on the 5 hour flight into L.A.,   Later on somebody tells me to go to the United desk when I land.
I deplane at L.A.X., run to the United desk, a couple of people in front of me.  It's my turn, I tell them my name and how I come to be in L.A. instead of San Francisco.  The desk attendant says,  "Yep, you are on the next plane to Frisco, you have 10 minutes to get to your gate." " Run!"  I run to the gate, they're waiting for me.  I walk on, they close they door and we head for San Fran.  I still had another plane to catch, this one a small regional prop.  A plane is getting ready to leave, they tell me it's full and because of the graduation this weekend, I can't catch another plane until very late.  They small plane takes off, the desk attendant calls me over and says, "Oops, you WERE booked on that flight.  We're sorry.  What would you like to do?  Why don't you spend the night on our dime and then be on the first flight tomorrow morning? I was pretty tired by now, I said, "that sounds good."  So I spent the night in Frisco on United's dime and flew into Eureka the next morning alert and rested (well at least rested.)
With the changes in security precautions these days, the last scenario is highly unlikely to happen again.  At the very least, it's gonna cost you.  But it was kinda of fun; finding a way around a roadblock  required some fairly quick thinking on my part.  Kudos to United however, they did the rest - never even hesitated in trying to make it happen and in fact did make it happen.