Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Asiana Crash Part 2

In this week's continuing series of padding out my blog with easy posts recounting my experiences with the Asiana crash, we get to the thrilling, action packed, part.

No, wait, that's tomorrow.  So, let's talk about hot dogs.

Hot dogs were named after the fact that, in the 1800s, sausages were made of dogs a lot of the time.  I've had an aversion to hot dogs most of my life.  I'm not sure why, but as a kid even the smell used to make me sick.  I think I must have eaten a bad one once and my body rebelled against them.  It took years before I could eat one again, and when I did...

Well, they're just baloney sticks, aren't they?  I don't get it.

The point is, on my last day in Chicago, I got a hot dog.  There weren't a lot of choices in the terminal.  We all ate lunch and waited for our flight to board.  Minutes before they were supposed to open up the plane, the guy at the front desk announced that SFO had asked them to delay boarding because there had been a catastrophic accident.

By the way, saying the words "catastrophic accident" into an intercom is the fastest way to get people to run to the nearest screen showing CNN and crash T-Mobile's wireless service.

While people were panicking, I stood next to the airline counter.  I knew there were a limited number of flights we could move to (it was 4th of July weekend) and everyone would be scrambling for them.  I knew SFO had runways too close together and, even during rainy days, they had to cut back on the number of planes that landed; a burning plane on the runway would really limit landings.  I knew you couldn't trust the guys at the gate who said they thought the plane would go today.

Since the crash was an "act of God" (their words, not mine), they wouldn't cancel the flight and give us our money back.  They wouldn't transfer us to another airline.  They would only let us move to another flight.  The next flight we could get on would be in the morning, and there were only two seats left.  By the time we decided to take them (leaving me and one child behind in Chicago), the seats were gone.

We went back out through security and polled the various airlines.  How soon can we leave?  Can they take us to Oakland?  San Jose?  Sacramento?  Los Angeles?  Seattle?  Making matters worse, our phones were still down, and we couldn't get in touch with any reliable source of information.

You know how, during disasters, some people freeze and hesitate so long they die?  That was us.  We couldn't make a decision.  Finally, we got a room at the airport hotel.

The Hilton O'Hare is a long walk through a series of tunnels under the terminal.  The Hilton O'Hare has billions of dollars of state-of-the-art air conditioning, because it blows freezing blasts at you wherever you walked.  The Hilton O'Hare charges extra for internet service, even if you pay $150 for a small room.

We sat, watching the plane burn, waiting for Virgin America to answer the phone (we gave up after 45 minutes on hold), not knowing what to do.

Tomorrow: swimming and running and shopping.

No comments: