I set out at 5:45AM yesterday to embark on a trip to Dallas. I rushed to SeaTac airport just south of Seattle through morning traffic, got to the off-site parking lot, and hopped a shuttle hoping to make it in time for the 8AM flight. No glitches. It was impressive.
The Alaska plane unloaded a bit late, but not too much behind schedule. Then… we were all in our seats…. waiting, and waiting. Soon the captain came on through the speakers and told us there was a “ring” problem on the right wing (hey, that’s where I was sitting near….). When there is a mechanical problem, I think everyone understands. Since the air conditioning also didn’t work well, we were allowed to get off the plane for about an hour.
They called us back to the plane in what seemed like a much shorter time than an hour. Everyone was smiling. Then the counting begain. How many flight attendants does it take to see how many people are on the plane? Apparently all of them, counting several times apiece. Perhaps they thought the one missing passenger would pop out of the lavatory or overhead bin? They counted and counted to the point that I was concerned for their mental state. It seemed like we were going to leave anyway – and we were underway…. oh, until we stopped again, and the captain told us that we needed to go back to the gate to find this missing person.
We learned later that it was not that they were so concerned about someone missing a flight (THAT would be news…) but it was a security issue. Person comes on the plane with checked luggage, then gets off the plane. Security issue. They weren’t about to pull each of us off to match up our luggage, which was a good thing. At some point after we had been on the tarmac for over three hours, they apoligetically reported to us that we would indeed get to leave now. No further explanation – and off we went.
What I liked most was how the Alaska flight attendants gracefully handled this horrible situation – unlike some airline stories we have all heard about. They made eye contact. They apologized, and offered us free drinks, food, and any DVD players that were available. They fed the kids on the flight first, and gave them DVD players if they were old enough. I liked that.
Recently my husband and I had a negative experience in a restaurant. The worst part was that the server didn’t tell us the truth, and didn’t check on us as they should have – then avoided us like the plague when I spoke up to offer my view of our dining experience. It truly was refreshing for Alaska to step up and say, yep, this was bad – let’s make the most of it, and get you to Dallas.
I felt that my fellow passengers were much like me when they got off – they thanked the pilot, and the crew – and we all went on about our week.