Saturday, August 10, 2013

Most Unexpected Flight Delays

Anyone who flies, even if it's infrequently, has experienced flight delays for one reason or another.  It could be weather related at your departure airport or perhaps at the airport where your plane is coming from which prevents the aircraft from arriving at your airport.  Or it could be weather related at your destination airport.  It could be mechanical problems with the plane.  Or simply more flights taking off and landing than your airport can handle.  Or a myriad of other minor inconveniences that delay or in some cases cancel your departure.

It's very frustrating when you've arrived at the airport the requisite two hours before departure, waited in the long line to get through security, had a personal possession confiscated by the TSA agent even though it was not on their list of disallowed items, had a stranger searching through your underwear in your carryon bag, and had your person physically patted down by a stranger in full view of other strangers while standing on a dirty floor without your shoes.  Then you finally arrive at your gate only to find that your flight has been delayed.  Maybe for half an hour maybe for three hours.  And worse yet, an hour later your flight moves from delayed status to cancelled.

But what about those truly unexpected flight delays?  Those strange occurrences so far out of the realm of normal that they defy description.  I recently saw a list of ten wackiest—and scariest—flight delays that I'd like to share with you.

10)  Bug Bungle:  Florida has the reputation for being a state that's home to many different type of creepy, crawly things.  An American Airlines flight from Miami to Washington, D.C., in March 2010 was delayed due to a cockroach infestation in the cabin.  Specifically on the curtain between cabin sections.

9)  Turtle Love:  In July 2009, something far less predictable than flight congestion at JFK airport caused a delay.  Seventy-eight amorous diamondback terrapins from nearby Jamaica Bay made their way across the runway looking for a place to breed.  They were rounded up and trucked back to Jamaica Bay.

8)  Toilet Trouble:  Some passengers aboard a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight scheduled from Dhaka to London in August 2009 decided to test the toilet system on the plane by flushing all kinds of things including bottles and cups in the five toilets.  The clogged toilets were cleared in two hours, but more than two hundred passengers had to wait an additional eight hours for takeoff due to a night flight ban at London's Heathrow airport.

7)  Catfish Conundrum:  Catfish, it seems, are able to use their pectoral fins to go for a temporary stroll on land.  In August 2008, a Delta Airlines flight was denied landing permission in Florida due to the presence of four walking catfish on the runway, along with two gopher tortoises, a blue indigo snake and an alligator.  The plane had to circle until the herd was rounded up and relocated to a nearby pond.

6)  Flight Attendants:  In February 2010, Two female flight attendants on a Delta Connection flight from Rochester to Atlanta were removed from duty after a fight between them resulted in a flight delay.  The passengers had to deplane and take other flights to reach their destination.

5)  Over-Ambitious Employee:  Bomb threats are a scary reality, but in December 2009 American Airlines received a very unusual bomb threat.  A secretary in Miami was concerned that her boss, who was running late, would miss his flight to Honduras.  So, rather than booking him on a later flight, she emailed the airport saying a bomb had been planted.  While the aircraft and the luggage was being searched, she was traced via her IP address to her office where she was arrested.

4)  Rabbits Doing Their Thing:  In June 2007, passengers at the airport in Milan, Italy, weren't prepared for the problems caused by an excessive number of mating rabbits.  Problems so severe that they halted takeoffs and landings for a few hours until they were rounded up and taken to a wildlife preserve.

3)  Forgetful Passenger:  At JFK airport in September 2008, an American Airlines flight returned to the gate after it had taxied and was just about to take off.  It seems that one of the passengers realized he had left his laptop computer in the terminal.  He was freaking out, wouldn't listen to the flight attendants, and refused to sit down.  He was taken off the plane and the flight was delayed even longer so his luggage could be located and removed from the plane.

2)  Gold Fever:  In Canada, hockey is a very serious endeavor.  During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, passengers were watching Canada and the U.S. play for the gold medal on airport televisions.  They ignored repeated announcements and pleas from gate agents to board their flight to Montreal thus causing a flight delay.

1)  MIA Baby Pythons:  It sounds like something from a horror movie.  In April 2009, a Quantas airplane missed two scheduled flights after it was discovered that four baby pythons were unaccounted for following a flight from Alice Springs to Melbourne.  The plane was fumigated and returned to service, but that didn't necessarily ease the minds of many passengers since the snakes were never found.

What's the longest you've ever been stuck on a delayed flight?  I was on an American Airlines flight scheduled to depart at 6:30am from Burbank, California, for Dallas, Texas, where I had a connection departing Dallas at 12:30pm.  After everyone had boarded the flight, we sat on the tarmac at Burbank more than four hours due to mechanical problems (the backup something wasn't functioning properly so they had to replace it and they had to get the part from their maintenance area at Los Angeles International airport because they didn't have one at Burbank) which caused me to miss my connection in Dallas and also the next available connection for my destination three hours later (missed that one by five minutes) and then the last connection of the day for my destination was grounded in Dallas because of fog at the destination airport so I had to stay overnight in Dallas and catch the first flight at 9:30 the next morning.  Of course, the agent tried to tell me that they didn't give hotel vouchers for weather related cancellations and I had to point out that it was their mechanical problem in Burbank 12 hours earlier that day that was responsible for me being grounded in Dallas rather than at my destination several hours ago.  She reluctantly provided me with a hotel and food voucher.  All-in-all, not a fun travel day.  :) 

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