18 Hours Down…19 More to Go

18 Hours Down…19 More to Go
Miami, FL

Miami, FL


Once again we boarded and departed on time for our flight to Miami. We were above or in the clouds for the entire journey. The flight was very bumpy, one of the worst I have been on in quite some time. Because of those storms we were re-routed a couple of times by air traffic control. That meant we would be late arriving. We did not think that was going to cause us any problems because we had a two-hour window.

At one point the co-pilot announced we were going to be in a holding pattern. The airport had been closed due to the severe storms. He also broke the news that we would only be in the holding pattern for about 20 minutes because that was all the fuel we had. As if that were not enough “interesting” news, he floated the idea that we might have to divert to Ft. Meyers.

Shortly before we were going to have to head to Ft. Meyers due to low fuel, the announcement came that we had been cleared to land at Miami. We did so in a driving rain storm. We arrived at our gate, D-38, just after 17:00, about an hour late.

We located our next gate, D-45. Not far away was the Islander Bar and Grill. We stopped in for a snack and a glass of wine. As we made our way back to our gate we were surprised to see it completely empty. We discovered our gate had been changed to D-33. I flagged down an empty electric cart so Leslie would not have to walk. Unfortunately, that was not a cart for the general public. After a short discussion with the driver, the cart went on its way. Much to my surprise, in about a minute, the driver returned and picked up Leslie. Since it was only a two-seater, I had to walk.

When I arrived at D-33 I found Leslie standing there with what looked like 1,000 people. All of the chairs were full, so there were many, many people standing. I approached the gate agents to check-in. When I did I was told they were going to board the plane for Orlando first. I did not understand why they were referring to an Orlando flight when the board behind the agents clearly read “Port of Spain”, our next destination. That sign also showed a new departure time of 19:00, about an hour later than the original time.

The other thing I did not understand is why the Orlando passengers were not boarding since there was a plane at the gate. One of the waiting passengers explained there was not a crew on that plane. They were waiting for pilots that were flying in from California. We were there until shortly after 19:00. The Orlando flight did not depart, neither did ours.

One of the agents made the announcement that our flight would now be going out of gate D-49. We could not find a cart or wheelchair so we began walking. As we passed a gift shop I saw a wheelchair. The attendant was in the store. I went in and asked him if he could wheel Leslie to our new gate. He agreed.

At gate D-49, we sat and waited for our flight. We finally saw a plan arrive at our gate. I believe it was from Honduras. The board showed a new departure time of 20:00. As soon as all of the passengers were off, a maintenance crew boarded. There was some sort of problem with the plane. By the time they finished it was coming up on 20:45. That was when we began the boarding process. As Leslie and I stood at the ramp door we heard the gate supervisor questioning why we were being allowed to board. He said the current crew would be illegal as of 21:00. He did not think there was any way the plane could be loaded and pushed back in 15 minutes. We boarded anyway.

On the plane, one passenger was helping with the boarding process. He asked people where they were sitting. Once they told him he took their carry-on bag, dashed to their seat and stuffed the bag overhead. He repeated that numerous times. Thanks in part to his help, everyone was on board and seated by 21:01. At 21:03 we were told we would have to deplane because the crew was illegal. When we made it to the gate seating area, the gate counter was swarming with upset passengers.

To calm everyone down, the gate agent announced that the search was on for a new crew. They needed to find two pilots as well as four flight attendants. The new departure time was listed as 00:00. That was enough to calm people down and disperse them from the counter.

A few minutes later they announced they would give each of us a meal voucher for dinner. I ended up being third in line. I got our vouchers and motioned for Leslie. We walked directly across the concourse to the Islander Bar and Grill again. It was about 21:40.

When we sat down to order, the waitress said they were only open until 22:00. We quickly ordered our wine and a chicken sandwich. That more than used up our $24 worth of vouchers. Once we received our order we downed the sandwiches quickly, switched our wine to plastic cups, and went back to the gate area.

As we sat there it was easy to tell when a member of the new crew arrived because of the whistles, applause, and cheers from the waiting passengers.

Shortly before 01:00 the last crew member arrived. Not long after, we began boarding again. This time the other passenger did not help with the process.

We pushed away from the gate at about 01:10. As we were taxiing there was some commotion near the front of the coach section. We could see a couple of the flight attendants get a first-aid kit and tend to one of the passengers. The plane turned around. By 01:15 we were back at the gate waiting for the paramedics.

The paramedics did arrive and they attended to the passenger. We could not tell what was going on, but the activity was not very frenetic. Next we saw two ladies come on board wearing surgical style face masks. After a few minutes the ladies and paramedics left sans the passenger. The door was closed and finally we were in the air by 01:45.

This was a bumpy flight too. It got so bumpy at one point that the flight attendants suspended beverage service.

Even though we left Miami for Port of Spain at essentially the time we should have been landing at Georgetown, we were at least glad to be making some forward progress. We each snoozed a little, even with the bumps.


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