Periscope Depth

eight miles high and falling fast

Continental Airlines Flight #482 was scheduled to depart Houston Airport at 1:45 (Central) and arrive in Boston at 6:45 (Eastern). These facts inform the rest of the following narrative.

(1) My own damn fault – I thought the plane was taking off at 1:00, not 1:45. So when my ride dropped me at Houston at 11:15, I had two boatloads of time to kill. I got a beer and a chicken caesar salad at the Fox Sports Network Skybox in Terminal E, reading a book and glancing at Tour de France coverage.

(2) The flight got pushed back to 2:00.

(3) I had the aisle seat nearest the bathroom. I have to imagine this was the airline fucking with me, because I would not choose the aisle seat nearest the bathroom if any other seat were available. But I booked it long enough ago that I can’t recall.

(4) Houston’s a busy airport, so we sat on the runway for a while before taking off around 2:30ish.

(5) About two hours into the flight, the captain gets on the vox and tells us that we’re in a holding pattern over D.C. to avoid some inclement weather up into the Northeast. Huh. Inconvenient, but good to know. We probably wouldn’t notice these things if the pilot didn’t let us know – the beauty of air travel.

(6) Forty-five minutes later, the captain lets us know that air traffic has given us a new route: skirting western PA, cruising through upstate NY and coming into Boston from the west. Interesting!

(7) Forty-five minutes after that, the captain picks up the mic and says we’re running out of fuel.

Well, not in so many words. What he really says: due to the extended holding pattern and our new flight path, we no longer have enough fuel to make it to Boston. However, when you’re in a commercial jet, it means the same thing. You can’t just park on the side of the road and call AAA.

(8) So our plane makes an unscheduled stop at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY. We spend half an hour fueling up and half an hour waiting for our clearance to take off again. During that half hour, the entire plane got up to go to the bathroom.

(9) While we’re on the ground, a 17-month-old baby two rows ahead flirted with the girls in the row immediately in front of me. He would make a smacking motion, sweeping his hand from his lips, smile, and then bury his face in the blanket on his mother’s shoulder. He had big, dark blue eyes, like stones in rings. I hope nothing scars him too much in his next sixteen years; the world needs more ladykillers.

(10) Landed in Boston a mere three hours behind schedule. Not bad, considering the surprise stopover. But my need for an alcoholic beverage had rapidly exceeded my ability to obtain one. I settled for a meef quesarito at Anna’s and got home late.

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