I’m working at Creative Commons San Francisco office this week. I had a 7AM flight out if Indianapolis yesterday morning, which made for a very, uh, short night. It would have been a short night any night, but one where I’m hanging out with fraternity brothers and drinking? Yeah. Short.
I had to make a connection in Dallas-Fort Worth, and I made it without a hitch. Of course, one hour into the flight from DFW to SFO, I felt the plane shift to the left and bank slightly. It wasn’t a feeling I usually associate with “normal” plane operations, but I figured it was just windy or something. And then we started to descend. About this time the pilot comes over the intercom and just says “275”. The flight attendants, who had just finished the beverage service immediately began collecting cups, trash and cans. And we were still descending. So the pilot comes on and says “Well folks, you can probably tell we’ve begun to descend. Uh, how can I put this delicately? The plane is not responding to the inputs my first officer and I are making, and it is making changes that we didn’t order. So we’re going to make an emergency landing in Amarillo and see what’s going on.” 15 minutes later we were on the ground. I have never felt a plane descend so fast, or seen a full cabin so incredibly quiet.
After we landed we found out that the rudder had started making moves that weren’t ordered. That seems like a bad thing. So we waited. And waited. It took about 7 hours for American Airlines to get us a replacement plane, and after that we were on our way. I have to say that the crew and pilot were complete professionals — cool, collected and very efficient at their jobs. The ground staff at Amarillo? Bitches. Being told that we just need to stop asking questions and that she’ll tell us when something occurs is not a way to make friends (she didn’t tell this to me directly, rather announced it over the intercom after interacting with customers apparently interferred with her job). And i Amarillo has a convention and visitors bureau, they might look into putting some sort of amenities into the airport beyond a soda machine. I’m just saying.