My day started out with a beautiful sunrise view off the balcony of our Orlando Airport Hyatt, where we stayed last night. I like staying here if I have an early flight; we stayed here last Sunday, and are planning to stay here next Sunday as well.
I went down to American Airlines and checked my luggage in around 7:15am for my 9am flight. I then met DOS for breakfast at the Hemisphere’s Restaurant on the 9th floor of the Hyatt. They have a delicious buffet, and as last week I was plenty full upon leaving. I said bye to DOS, and headed down to gate 53 for my first flight to Dallas, where I was supposed to then change and head on to Garden City, Kansas.
Murphy’s Law, however, had other plans for my day. Midway thru the flight to Dallas, after breakfast was served (which I passed on as I was full), I started smelling a burning sensation, not cooking, but more like burning wires or rubber. Within a few moments, the Flight Attendants hurried up to the forward galley, and the Captain made an announcement we were diverting immediately to New Orleans due to ‘smoke in the cockpit’! This was quite frightening for me, and in all the years I’ve been flying since 1986, have not had anything similar to this happen before.
Other than a couple nervous chats to my seat mate, and others did likewise, the cabin was eerily quiet. Meanwhile the four Flight Attendants, went into Emergency landing mode, which required a whole new set of procedures. If they were nervous, they didn’t show it, and their calm demeanor was very assuring to myself as well as the other passengers. I was seated in First Class 5B (aisle) and I noticed they were reviewing safety procedures with some of the male passengers in the front of the plane. I later spoke to one of the men and he said they went over procedures such as opening the door, air slides etc, should one of the FA’s be disabled.
The Captain kept us informed, though it seemed like the longest 15 minutes of remaining plane time ever as we descended into New Orleans. He told us their would be Fire Trunks waiting by the runway, and Fireman would monitor the plane for burning before we could taxi to the gate. The FA’s, also gave the passengers instructions on Brace positions, use of the slide, etc, and reminded passengers if we had to evacuate to leave EVERYTHING behind.
This is one of those safety announcements you hear, but never really listen too. i usually put my wallet and phone in my laptop bag, which I stow overhead, thinking nothing about it. Should we have to evacuate though, i would not have my phone, money, ID etc and that would complicate any means of communication, lodging, food etc. Fortunately I retrieved these two items quickly before we landed. Important Travel Tip! Always have your wallet, phone, and medication on your person when you fly.
As we landed, everything was normal (i just pictured the landing gear collapsing, brakes failing, etc), and the plane came to a stop. The Fireman checked out the plane’s exterior, and a few minutes later we were granted permission to taxi to the gate. Once there, all the passengers remained seated (unlike the mass exit frenzy on most flights), partly because we didn’t know if we could get up and take our belongings with us. The FA’s made an announcement we could deplane and take our belongings with us, and to stay in the gate area in New Orleans for further instructions.
We knew it was going to be quite a wait as American would need to bring another plane in to continue on to Dallas. For the first hour I sat by the boarding area, but then ventured around the terminal for a bit looking for something to eat. I took a few photos of the airport, with its jazz-themed displays,
I later saw the four Flight Attendant’s who had worked our flight, and they were waiting in the gate area as well as the passengers. I chatted with them briefly, thanking them for their service and professionalism. I also wrote American Airlines a nice letter complimenting them and the Cockpit crew for getting us safely to the airport. I told them it’s one of those things you hope you never have to see, but you could tell they were well trained if something like this did arise. Here are the flight attendants of 2297 MCO to DFW today: Chris, Tabitha, Lauren, and Robyn, all of whom are Miami based. I gave them each one of our Steve cards, and ladies, if you’re reading this THANKS AGAIN!!! You were wonderful today!
As the day wore on, it became apparent the replacement flight wouldn’t be available until after 5pm, so I called the American Airlines Executive Platinum desk, and they were able to re-route me to Wichita Kansas (instead of Garden City) via a 4pm connection via DFW. I was fortunate to get the last seat, even if it was the back of coach. I had an uneventful flight on this MD 80 aircraft, and had a short 55 minute connection in Dallas, which I walked to from C4 to B35 – quite a walk, but wanted the exercise.
My one hour flight on American Eagle from DFW to Wichita on a tiny Embraer 145 Regional Jet was quick and I took a couple photos as we departed DFW, including this of a QANTAS 380 super-size jumbo jet.
(DOS and I are going to Vietnam and Cambodia in February, and are booked in Business Class on a Korean Air 380 so am looking forward to it). I also took a few sunset shots right before landing in Wichita.
When I got to Wichita, I was glad to see my luggage made it as I was originally scheduled to fly to Garden City, Kansas. I took a more happy looking selfie than the frightened in-flight photo shown above. I collected my luggage, and then walked next door to the Doubletree Hotel Wichita, where I stayed for the night.
I went to the lounge and had a couple brewskis and a club sandwich, and Facetime’d DOS as I ate. Facetime is the new ‘Long Distance is the next best thing to being there’. And so it was a nice ending to a long day.
‘Twas a great day to land safely, and just be alive!
Welcome to Kansas!