Somewhere over Montana, our pilot announced there was a malfunction in the food heaters in the front of the plane (used for first class; the unclean masses in coach can purchase an unheated Box O’ Salty Snacks for five buckaroos), so we would be turning around. Odd – the safety concern is great enough that they won’t continue to Boston, but not enough to land immediately. Rather, since Alaska Airlines is based in Seattle, we’d fly the 1.2 hours back where there are parts and planes and eight-thousand varieties of coffee and rain and stuff.
There was spike of activity up front as a visibly-worried attendant barked something on the internal phone. An oxygen bottle was brought from the back. The pilot announced we’ll be landing in Spokane, because a flight attendant was “ill from the fumes.” Ill was an understatement. The poor woman looked like she’d just checked her 401(k) for the first time since August: she was shaking violently, tearing up, and faint. She went through a couple of oxygen bottles during the final approach.
After the flight attendant was escorted out to an ambulance, a couple of technicians boarded to investigate:
I couldn’t access my camera while they were actually in the plane, but the respirators they wore conveyed some seriousness. Ten minutes later, they let us off the plane.
To Alaska’s credit, the Spokane crew did a commendable job of keeping us informed of what they were doing. Initially this was “we don’t have a plan right now, but we will have one in twenty minutes.” And they did. That level of honesty is the exception these days. I do think they should have comped us a soft drink or food during the three-hour wait, especially considering the length of the flight. However, I scored some leftover pizza when some guy’s kids didn’t like pepperoni.
The next two and a half weeks looks roughly like this:
- 10/8 – 10/12 – Boston
- 10/13 – 10/15 – State College, PA
- 10/16 – 10/17 – Bethesda/DC area?
- 10/18 – Massive geocaching binge
- 10/19 – Columbus, OH
- 10/20 – Providence, RI day trip?
- 10/21 – 10/24 – Columbus, OH