The friendly skies

20110619-103237.jpg Whatever could delay a scheduled flight for over an hour? Could it be engine trouble? Or a sick pilot? Or perhaps . . . a broken latch on a seat-back tray?

Yes, really. On a US Air flight (really Mesa Air — flying commuter flights under the livery of other airlines and giving them a bad name for a bunch of years, now) out of Long Beach, Flight 2780, on June 11, returning to Arizona from a Disney/Lego vacation (to be covered in another post), the plane was actually delayed because a small plastic catch had broken, allowing the seat-back tray to flop into my wife’s lap.

My wife was quickly moved to another seat on the half-full plane, and we firmly expected that the flight attendant would quickly solve the problem with a strip of duct tape and let us get under way, but it was not to be.

The pilot explained to us over the PA that FAA regulations require broken seat-back trays to be repaired with very special, approved tape — tape that wasn’t to be found at hand. So the maintenance department was contacted — in Phoenix — and asked to call their guy on the ground right there in Long Beach (apparently, just waving the guy down from the window of the plane in the tiny airport is frowned upon). The arrival of the guy then had to be waited upon, and waited …

20110619-105402.jpg Finally, the guy showed up. He peeled off three or four squares of double-sided, clear tape, stuck the tray in place, and carefully affixed a . . . well, I think it was a Post-It note, warning of the temporary inconvenience.

Yeah, this really took over an hour of sitting on the tarmac, as we entertained ourselves passing camera-phones around so everybody could preserve the incident for posterity.

I’d like to add an extra thanks to the world’s laziest gate agent, who lost interest in re-booking passengers about to miss flights connecting with the small commuter plane about half-way down the aisle, so just left. That was a truly impressive display comparable to anything I’ve ever seen in a Department of Motor Vehicles.

Fortunately, my family had nothing to connect with but a car parked in an economy garage at Sky Harbor, but others weren’t so lucky.

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