You always hear horror stories of people being stuck in the tarmac for hours, waiting to fly, clueless and uncomfortable. Angry people who feel that they were practically kidnapped and held on a plane. One wonders about the reality. How much is perception, how much is overblown hype created by the news media and a few squeaky wheels?
The longest leg of our trip to Prague, the actual crossing the ocean part, was extended by hours due to a malfunctioning computer on our plane. We taxied out to the runway, were two planes back from takeoff, and the Delta captain came on and told us that not all preflight checks checked out.
They tried turning it off and on again, brought techs out who tried turning it off and on again in some manner that they probably thought the captain didn’t do, then the plane was brought back to a gate for the computer to be replaced.
During our time sitting patiently, waiting for the repairs to be done the captain came on the p.a. multiple times to update us on the progress. The flight attendants served drinks and even gave out an extra packet of lightly salted peanuts or mini pretzels. My favorite announcement was, “there’s currently a technician upside down and sideways underneath my cockpit.” It seems that the computer was in an awkward location.
For a time passengers were even given the option to deboard and wander around the airside while we were parked. The deplaning option was with the condition that all carry on luggage be taken with you. Remarkably few people chose this option.
Once things were repaired, and the wandering passengers collected, the flight was promptly underway. All went swimmingly and no one seemed too upset.
Delta handled everything nicely. They even arranged a different flight for our connection in Frankfurt, which we had missed by hours. The only real frustration during the ordeal was that due to the computers being rebooted the in-flight entertainment kept restarting.
Yes, there are redundant systems and the plane won’t drop out of the sky due to a single fault. But I would still rather them fix the plane before we fly.