Airplane Mode 2 Dudley takes flight

I spent 8 1/2 hours trapped on a plane yesterday thanks to a perfect storm of travel complications that hit us at both ends of our trip.

Fortunately, Dudley was on board.

The trouble started with a couple of missing flight attendants, grew thanks to an ominous announcement of “cargo that needed to be removed from the plane” and ended with a medical emergency that stopped all traffic in and around concourse C.

I met Dudley at the gate while waiting for our flight from LA to Chicago yesterday afternoon. We had time to chat, thanks to a gate agent’s announcement that our flight would be “delayed slightly while we waited for our flight attendants.”

Dudley was in a surly mood because he’d had to go to the groomers that day to get ready for his semi-annual Chicago vacay and he rolled his eyes a time or two as we all waited to board.

Eventually, with our attendants located, we all trooped on and settled in for our three-hour flight. I became immediately engrossed in the movie “Once” and did not noticed that, after pulling back from the gate, our plane stopped dead.

“We’re having some trouble in the cargo hold,” our pilot announced in the fuzzy voice you only pay attention to when you notice the plane isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. “We’re going to experience a slight delay while we remove some things from the cargo hold.”

Some prescient passengers took that opportunity to announce that they too would be exiting the plane (an option I was not aware existed once the plane had pulled back from the gate) and our poor pilot made a second unpopular announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen we’re going to have to wait while they move the jet bridge to accommodate the passengers who have elected to leave the aircraft.”

At this point, we had been on the plane nearly two hours and had traveled roughly 20 feet.

Things were not looking good.

Dudley’s owner offered to pass him around to comfort some of the restless passengers. I got on the phone and chatted with a customer service representative. I gave him my particulars, and told him I was not going to make my 7:30 p.m. connecting flight to Appleton as we were all still on the ground at LAX.

He clicked a few keys and then helpfully offered to rebook me on the 3:45 flight to Appleton.

“I’m not going to make that, sir,” I said. “As I said I’m still on the ground in LA.”

“You need to speak to the gate agent.”

“I can’t do that. As I mentioned, I am on the plane at LAX. We just haven’t left yet.”

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Yada yada yada, I needed to speak to customer service when I landed at O’Hare.

Finally, we took off and Dudley and I used the opportunity to relax. Eventually, we landed in Chicago, where I noticed an excessive amount of flashing red lights. The plane rolled to a stop on distant runway and our luckless pilot took the mic again.

“Ladies and gentlemen, due to a medical emergency on an incoming flight, we’re going to be stopped here a while.’

A while turned out to be another hour. By now, Dudley was miffed. A passenger bolted to the front of our section and tried to buckle in like she belonged there.

“Excuse me ma’am, you’re going to have to return to your seat.”

“I can’t,” she said. “I need to get off this plane. I have a flight to catch.”

“So does everyone else, ma’am,” the attendant said.

To ward off a Lord of the Flies situation, Dudley made another round through the cabin. We learned he was a rescue dog and that he was about six-years old.

In the end, none of us made our connecting flights, but we all made a new little canine pal.

It wasn’t my favorite flight home, but it was definitely one of my more entertaining.

I’m always happy to get a window seat on night flights. Chicago looks so sparkly from the sky.
Pretty nice view, am I right?
I was pretty focused on enjoying the view and didn’t suspect that trouble was brewing.
Thank goodness for Dudley, who may or may not have been an official service animal but sure did yeoman’s work calming a bunch of anxious passengers.
Even Dudley had his limits, though, and, eventually, he got miffed.
Such a privilege to see the coast of Lake Michigan from the sky. I love night travel, but this trip definitely could have been smoother. Thanks for the distraction, Dudley.

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