Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Flight Was Met By Cops

Rarely do I get to utter the words, “Our flight was met at the gate by cops.” As you know if you’ve been following me, although I’m not sure why you would, I was traveling yesterday on my way to attend a NASA Tweetup at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of STS-132, which is scheduled for 2:20pm tomorrow.

This entire trip has been a series of good things consistently offset by a series of not so good things. I consider myself a seasoned road warrior so no much surprises me anymore but I still find these instances fascinating.  I do want to thank all my 'friends' who automatically assumed the officers were there for me.  Hopefully this will set the record straight.

Our plane landed at Orlando International Airport 45 minutes late due to weather issues at IND and ORD. I was sitting in the first row of first class at the window. During the flight a guy from coach came up to use the first class lavatory but he couldn’t get to it as the flight attendant was serving us lunch. She told him he would need to use one of the two lavatories in the back of the plane. It is kind of an unspoken rule that if you are in coach you don’t use the lavatory at the front of the plane. They don’t like you congregating near the cockpit door for obvious reasons and they really want the folks in coach to feel like second-class citizens.

Irritated he went away. About 10 minutes later, with the beverage cart still in the aisle, he came back up to try to use the lavatory again. She again told him to use the ones in the back of the plane. He said he was mad about the poor customer service and stomped off towards the back of the plane again. We didn’t see him again until the cops boarded.

While we are taxing to the gate they announced several times that we were supposed to remain seated with our seatbelts securely fashioned until the captain turned off the fasten seatbelt sign. Nothing new there. The plane came to a stop at the gate and we were all waiting for the sign to be turned off. Since it was taking so long I didn’t even know if we were at the gate yet or if they were waiting on someone to operate the jet bridge.

Since I was sitting up front, I heard the main cabin door open and could smell the fresh Florida air. While I’m wondering why the door is open and why we can’t get up I see the first of 2 heavily armed Orlando police officers board the plane. One of them gets on the PA and says, “This is the Orlando Police. Remain seated.” About 30 seconds later, our friend from earlier in the story is escorted out. 30 seconds after that they let us go.

I was the first person off the plane and walked up the jet bridge behind the lead flight attendant and one of the Orlando officers. The other one I’m guessing had taking our pal into the nether parts of the airport that normal folks never get to see.

The conversation went something like this:

Officer – Did the passenger not follow your requests and instructions?
Flight Attendant – Well, I guess. I’m not sure.
Officer – Ma’am, it’s a yes or no question. I need a yes or a no.
Flight Attendant – Yes, I’m tired of people like him, yes, he did not follow the instructions of the flight crew.
Officer – Please come with me to the FBI office so we can take a statement.

Hoping they wouldn’t see me or ask me for a statement I slowed down and once they veered off I headed for the train to baggage claim.

While waiting for my bags I got the rest of the story from the folks in coach. Apparently, after his second attempt to use the lav in the front of the plane he made a bit of scene with the flight crew in the back about not being able to use the bathroom and use the bathroom he wanted. They all made it sound like he was a moron who got what he deserved.

So, the moral of the story, and if you don’t know this already you probably shouldn’t be breathing, is that you don’t mess with a flight crew. Duh.

Never a dull moment, although anymore I would kill for one of those.