Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crossing The Pond

Today the sun shone, the sky was blue and it was warm. I know, I know !

But I'm in England !

Fantastic. A proper Spring day in fact.

But before all that, I need to return to Sunday evening to tell the story of my trip here.

Once inside Orlando terminal A, I came upon a scene of utter chaos with several Virgin Atlantic check-in desks open but no individual flights on their signs. Due to the VAT (Volcanic Ash Troubles), they had put on extra flights and so the passengers for 5 flights were all lined up with no departure time priority. I almost walked back to Sebring just to find the end of the line and word came back that it was taking 90 minutes to get to the front....and my flight was due to leave in 2 hrs.

The people handling the line were all British Consular officials flown in from far and wide to help the usual Virgin staff. No sniggering. I called one over and mentioned that my flight was in 2 hrs and after checking with someone, he opened up the barrier and led me to the front of the line ! It pays to be pro-active I've found.

So it was that at 17:30, I joined up with 453 others and boarded this little 11 yr old baby........

Due to take off at 18:15, we pulled back from the gate 45 minutes late and even the pilot told us he didn't know why ! Not sure I believed that and I suspected he wanted to finish his 6-pack so as not to declare it in the UK.

After a bit of very slow driving out along various runway approaches, we came to a stop. The sky was darkening rapidly as a storm was approaching and sure enough, the pilot told us that mission control, sorry the guys up in the tower, had put a block on all takeoffs due to the lightning that was now visible all around us. The engines were turned off and we waited......and waited.

Finally, at just after 20:00, we took off and headed right into the storm. Who's bright idea was that then ? After a few minutes climbing, we apparently hit the middle of it as the plane was lit up like a Christmas tree and started vibrating like a cheap sex toy. I believe.

I was in an exit row window seat and as two of the cabin staff were sitting opposite me, I locked onto their faces like a love torn teenager. The theory being, if they weren't in a panic, I felt no need to panic either. Then the plane dropped about 1,000 ft in a few seconds and my stomach totally disobeyed my brain and panicked. I felt ill.

The climb continued with me watching the twin engines on the left wing bouncing up and down like a child's yo-yo, all the while telling myself that wings are designed for this sort of experience. My stomach wasn't. The lightning flashes continued to light up the plane and at no time did anyone on the flight deck think to offer words of comfort and reassurance to my stomach. I'm sure they were busy watching the lightning out the front window but I felt a few words would've helped many of us.

After about 10 minutes, things, but not my stomach, settled down and the rest of the flight was relatively normal. As a seasoned flyer, I'd never experienced turbulence like it but my time had to come I guess. I'm just happy to report my TIME hadn't come.

The seat sucked, the food sucked, the movie choices sucked and as the old guy next to me was a Scot with no built in subtitles, conversation sucked. And yet the 8 hrs passed quickly. Go figure.

We landed near the green, green grass of home and there to meet me, was...well Daffy actually and in no time we were back in Leeds and my trip from Sebring was over for another year.

It took 24 hrs to get my internet and cable tv up and running but now both are sorted. I've still a lot to do before I can be settled so apologies for slow replies to emails, tweets, IM's and Facebook messages.

Thank you all for your 'safe trip' wishes as they obviously warded off a lightning strike !


Anonymous said...

Wow!! What a flight...one to remember. Was the Scot a piper??? Just wondering...lol

Katie said...

I think it would have been amazing to see, but I wouldnt have voulenteered to go up in that storm! Welcome home!

Daphne said...

It's great that you're back in Blighty and it was of course lovely to see you. But I don't envy you that turbulence - even thinking about it makes me feel queasy!

rhymeswithplague said...

Worst flight I ever experienced was on an Eastern Airlines (remember them?) flight from Houston to New York City. Feared for my life, I did.

Glad to hear you made it home safely.
I hope you brought Daphne a souvenir. A palm tree, maybe?

jay said...

Oh ... I'm sorry for the turbulence and all, it sounds horrific! But Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah! That was so funny!

Never mind the 'cheap sex toy' (and just how would you know?) the bit about the Scot with no built-in subtitles had me literally laughing out loud.

Anyway, glad you're back safe and sound! Told you the weather was good, didn't I? ;)

Milo said...

Welcome home!

rhymeswithplague said...

p.s. - What a 'uge bird!

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