Another Travel Story

By John Gilstrap

I’d prepared a writing-oriented entry for this week, but as I was about to post it, I had second thoughts. I don’t know, it just didn’t feel fully formed. Maybe next week.

In the meantime, There’s space to be filled, and I thought I’d share one of the funniest airplane incidents that’s ever happened to me (and I travel a lot). This one happened this past Monday as I was settling into my seat for a flight from Washington Dulles to San Francisco.

I was in Row 9F of a 767 on this United Airlines flight–an exit row seat, which means that you have to assure the flight attendant that yes, I’d be delighted to hang around the burning airplane and help other passengers jump to safety. (I’m assuming that yelling words of encouragement from 300 yards away is essentially the same thing. “Remember! Stop, drop and roll!”)

Anyway, I convinced the flight attendant that I was appropriately selfless, and she wandered up to the first class section to do whatever she needed to do. Fast forward a couple of minutes and a different flight attendant wandered into the emergency exit space with a United Airlines mechanic in tow. “Look at that window!” she scolded, pointing angrily at the little porthole in the emergency exit door. “It’s completely fogged over. We can’t possibly take off with visibility blocked like that.”

Note for the record: No one seemed remotely concerned that the window next to my seat was equally fogged over, even though I bet there’d be a way better view of the blazing crash site through my window than hers. Of course, if it came to that, she’d be able to glance through the big open door to see me scampering away.

Anyway, the maintenance guy rolled his eyes and said, “Fine,” and he excuse-me’d his way to the eixt door, lifted the handle and opened it. Then he leaned out and wiped away the condensation with a napkin. “Happy?” he asked.

That was the moment when the first flight attendant came tearing down the aisle from first class hollering, “No! No! No!” Her face was lit with a comical mix of anger and panic. When we made eye contact, though, she started to laugh.

She’d thought I was practicing my exit row duties.

2 thoughts on “Another Travel Story

  1. I’ve always wondered about that. What’s the guarantee that thing is going to open, if we don’t rehearse a few times?

    No matter, my luck has been that I never get that seat anyway. I’m a 250 lb guys whose hobby is weight lifting and have never been offered that seat. I always end up between two other my size or bigger…that or between a spastic ADD teen and a tempermental, overstressed business type who freaks out if my shoulder touches his.

    Never the exit door, and never the fun person to talk to. Oh well…gives me stuff to write about.

  2. I used to travel a lot and I LOVED that seat! I’d get to the airport two hours early–this was pre 9/11, too) and ask for it. If the configurations are still like they were then, there’s no one next to you, and the bulkhead in front of you is about six feet away. You’re off that plane faster than they can say, “B-bye.”

Comments are closed.