Monday, February 13, 2006

Air-travel and blizzards don't mix

The airport is very much a different place when snow is flying instead of the planes. I've worked there for quite some time and have seen big storms screw with thousands of weary business people and ruin other's vacation plans. This past storm was no different. MIS-connected baggage was piled high and lines were long at Logan this morning.
As the computer guy I don't deal directly with passengers but over hear stories of cancelled and delayed flights..We've all been there, it sucks to be there!
So, I am under the main concourse in the maintenance dept fixing a workstation, phone rings, maintenance manager (Bob) answers. "No, I didn't hear that?" - Bob says, "Gate 6? I'll be right out!" - by the tone of Bob's voice something has just happened.
(me) "whats up?"
(Bob) "aircraft damage"
(me) "some one run into a plane?"
(Bob) "don't think so, gotta go to gate 6."
(me) "can I go?"
(Bob) "sure"
Bob opens his desk and grabs some paperwork and a digi cam. We stroll out to an Airbus A319 that's in the process of being fueled. Under the wing now looking up at a 20 inch by 10 inch piece of aluminum that appears to have torn off the wing. Bob tells me that it's a "slat" or hinged fuel door like on a car. Mangled! Looks like someone had been wacking it with a mallet for the duration of the flight. Fuelers had found it like that when they got there. Captain of the flight says that the fuel slat indicator light came on during landing. With this info Bob surmises that the fuel slat was left open by the last person to fuel the aircraft and while landing in Boston the leading edge of the wing (that also has some moving flap) grabbed hold of the slat and bent a 90 degree crease in the thin metal. Very exciting stuff but my treo was wailing and I had to go back to work.
Walked up stairs to the public level and through the secure door. Now surrounded by two hundred or so travelers that have been jaked around by the recent blizzard and were supposed to be on that A319 to Philly - Not! Like I said earlier, I don't deal too much with the passengers and forgot totally that there were a shit-load of people affected by this bent hunk of aluminum.
Just then, another friend with the airline gets on the microphone and announces the flight will be delayed. A hush comes over the crowd, just a minute earlier they thought they were going on to their next destination.
John comes back on the mic. "There is another Philly flight boarding in half an hour. If you would like to be on it please return to the ticket counter for re-ticketing."
Geee, what do you think happened next? That right...Massive stampede of angry passenger running each other over to get back through security and into another line at the ticket counter.

My advice to travelers when weather hits, stay home, rent the hotel room another night, go to the bar, do anything but fly.

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