When The Best Laid Plans Go Completely Wrong, Tornado Style (Part I of III)

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Guys… This is not the kind of post you are used to reading on this blog. But something happened to me recently that I just had to share and yes, it involves a real-life tornado. Of course this situation lent itself to a lot of reflections that I will also be sharing, but I can’t do my usual one sentence explanation of what inspired said reflections. It’s just too funny and ridiculous and unbelievable! So much so that, as I was writing and editing this post, I burst out laughing a few times—and that this post is actually the first of three.

That’s just how insane this story is.

I recently travelled from the east coast of North America to its west coast to attend the wedding of two very dear friends, a wedding to which a group of other very dear friends were also invited. My husband and I decided to stopover in Dallas where we could spend a few hours with two more very dear friends.

In short, it was going to be the perfect couple of days, filled with faces we dearly love.

Our original trip had us flying out on 26 December and landing at our final destination, San Francisco, at 7pm that same evening. Our layover in Dallas was to last six hours.

The first part of the plan worked perfectly. Our plane left with some delay but we landed earlier than scheduled in Dallas. We took an Uber driven by a super friendly guy to our friends’ place, had a wonderful lunch, and got dropped off at the airport. We did notice a rather ominous-looking sky but shrugged it off—we had taken off in worse weather many times before, after all. We went through security, got on the plane, and sat in our seats, sharing the row with a kind passenger.

That’s when the insanity began, one small drop at a time.

It started with an announcement that the flight would be delayed to wait for some 60 passengers who were running late.

Once the last of them had boarded, we were told we had to wait for “catering”. Some laughter ensued throughout the cabin—it’s not like the flight offered that much food in the first place.

After a total delay of about an hour, the plane pushed back from the terminal and headed towards the runway. By then, so much rain was pouring that I could barely see the terminal from my window. We were still confident that we would make it to San Francisco—until the captain told us that because of the weather conditions, flights were being temporarily grounded and that there was a line of 22 planes sitting on the tarmac. So our pilot turned off the plane’s engines and told us to get comfortable.

Some heavy lightening and thunder started up around that time. The passenger in front of us checked the weather on his phone and announced that from what he understood, Dallas was being hit by a tornado, possibly two.

Of course we were quite grateful for not flying out in such conditions!

Two hours later, we were told that the weather south of Dallas had cleared up enough for planes to fly. However, our flight would now be at least an hour longer than scheduled. But hey, we were going to a wedding on Sunday 27 December at 5:30pm so we were OK with pretty much anything that would get us to San Francisco that evening, however late.

Things were looking up!

Then we were told we had to go back to the terminal to get more fuel for our now longer trip. Sure, of course—who wants to be flying a plane that runs out of fuel, right?

Then we were told that there were no gates available at the moment, so we had to wait for one to open up. Understandable—if so many flights are delayed, of course more gates than anticipated would be unavailable.

So after yet another hour, we finally find a gate and they do their thing with the fuel. By then, the sky is still heavily overcast and the rain is still pouring, albeit a little less heavily than before. We are set to push back from the terminal when the pilot tells us that the weather has taken a turn for the worst and that flights were once again temporarily grounded.

A few minutes later, the pilot tells us that the crew’s legally allocated flight time is reaching its limit. Since flight time starts only once the plane has pushed back from the terminal, the plan was to stay at the gate until we could fly off.

About an hour later, we had to deplane since we had been cooped up inside for over four hours—this is apparently by law so there was no choice in the matter. So we gathered our belonging and left the plane. The pilot strongly suggested we take the time to eat dinner; our grumbling stomachs, who should have by then been receiving food in San Francisco, agreed.

Something must have happened—maybe an opening in the weather?—because only 15 minutes after deplaning, we were asked to board again! Unfortunately this means that a lot of people didn’t have time to get food. Thankfully we ordered something simple to go which we brought on the plane with us.

I have to confess I was feeling quite good as I boarded the plane; surely this meant that our time to takeoff had come! So we sat back down feeling quite optimistic.

But don’t get your hopes up, guys—there is a reason why this is only part I of III…

Image courtesy of Death to Stock.

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