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I just survived the flight from hell. Everything that one hears about US domestic airlines is true - the flights may be cheap, but there are some things that a consumer would really rather they didn't cut corners on. I certainly didn't miss the airline food, although I wish they'd pay a little more attention to things like... how many people you can fit on an airplane. My flight to Vegas was overbooked by 35 people, and I wasn't willing to take the $500 travel voucher bribe and possibly wait for a day for another seat. But, hey, that was nothing compared to my flight from Phoenix to Minneapolis....

After about an hour in the air, the plane had some massive mechanical failure & lost cabin pressure and we had to drop to 10,000 ft within seconds so that there would be breathable air. The elderly woman seated next to me seemed to think we were all about to die, and was determined to share that view. As we levelled, they made an announcement that we could stop using the oxygen masks. Funny thing is, they hadn't dropped down. Hmm, thanks for that. The flight attendants managed to placate my elderly neighbour with all the mini-bottles of Brandy she could drink or hide in her purse.

At least I got to see a lot more, since we were so close to the ground for two hours (usual altitude is 50,000ft domestic). It was a little unsettling - like coming in to land, for hours on end. And it took me a total of twelve hours to get from Phoenix to Minneapolis, via Denver. But it certainly could have been worse. Hey, if something on a plane has to stop working, I guess you should just be glad it's just the pressurisation system.

May 2000

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