In Timeout

Right now, I’m supposed to be on an airplane on my way to Toronto. In fact, I was on an airplane on my way to Toronto twenty minutes ago. Or so I thought. We were in the air, and I was waiting for the seat belt light to go off. But it didn’t. Instead, the captain came on the PA to tell us that if we’d noticed we were flying in circles, we were right (I hadn’t noticed, but I had an aisle seat). A flight computer had gone out, and it was unsafe for us to continue to Toronto; instead, we were burning off fuel to get below maximum landing weight, and then we’d be returning to SFO.

She reassured us that this was “irregular, not an emergency”. A few minutes later, the First Officer came on the PA to let us know that there would be firetrucks waiting on the runway as a precaution. And then we landed. It was obvious that it wasn’t a normal landing, because we didn’t slow as quickly as usual, but it was a smooth landing, and we taxied to the gate in the usual fashion.

They asked us to stay seated, but after only a minute or two, the captain came on and told us to make sure we had all of our belongings and to deplane. And by the time I got to the end of the jetway, the gate agent was telling us to go to the next gate; they’re stealing a plane that was supposed to take people to Seattle, so we’re waiting for it to arrive from San Diego in an hour or so.

So I’m sitting and waiting. I checked, and they show our status as “TIMEOUT”. United now claims we’ll arrive at the airport three hours late; I guess that blows my plans for dinner in Toronto.

Still, it could have been a lot worse!