25th December 2009, 1st christmas day:
I woke up at 4am to catch a quick Skype date for an hour with Ana before she went to sleep in NY. Christmas started perfectly for me as me and Ana skyped untill my 5am (her 11pm aka NY time) when she went to bed and sleep and I could get ready to leave for Schiphol at 6am to drop off my luggage and start my trip to NY which would be going through Detroit. I got at the airport and dropped off my luggage since I already checked in online so I didn’t have to cue up for luggage drop off. 🙂 After dropping off my luggage I said bye to my parents who were so nice to bring me to the airport and to wish them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and that I’d be contacting them when I arrive in NY. After walking though customs I called a friend of mine (Vivièn) to meet up since she was working that day and at that time. We spoke for a while, wished each other a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and she went back to work and I was off to gate E7 to catch my flight (NW253) to Detroit where I would have to transfer to flight NW7274 for NY JFK.
Anyway, I got at gate E7 and lined up behind the other people waiting to be interviewed by security personel about my destination, reason of visiting the States, about my luggage and stuff like that. After being interviewed and allowed to go to the security screening I had to line up again for screening. My bag went through security and I had to take my DSLR bag out of my carry on so it could be scanned properly as I walked through the metal detector. I didn’t have to take off my shoes though … or did I … hmmm can’t really remember that detail. But anyway, I repacked my DSLR bag and everything and noticed it was really crowded at the gate after going through security. The flight was packed and I didn’t take notice of my surroundings since it was crowded and pretty early. Specially since I was already awake since 4am at that time. We all waited till boarding started and off we were in the plane. I went to my seat at 37J and put my carry on away and fiddled around on my E72 on FB that I was in the plane and we were waiting to take off.
Well, take off took like forever, we had a delay of 90 minutes before finally taking off. Because the wings had to be de-iced which took quite a while and we had to wait for traffic control to give the green light for take off. All in all we left 90 minutes behind schedule. The rest of the flight was smooth sailing and pretty boring, just like any flight you might have been on so I’ll spare you the boring description of the plane food and trying to pass time sleeping or listening to music.
Time skip …. fast forward to 30 ish minutes before landing in Detroit.
We managed to make up for the 90 minutes delay and were on schedule like our initial ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) stated, which was around 12pm. That ment I would have to spend 3:30 hours at the airport since my connecting flight to NY JFK was leaving at 3:30pm. So even if we did have the delay of 90 minutes I would still have more then enough time to catch my connecting flight. At that time I was thinking: “Wow, nicer. I’m impressed we made up 90 minutes delay. Things are going very smoothly after a slight setback at departure.” Boy was I wrong about that … As we were appoaching Detroit airport the cabin crew and pilot started their landing procedures and announcing to the passengers to take their seat, put on their seatbelts, put their seats in the upright position, locking the table tray, switch off all electronic devices etc bla bla bla. As you can read I’ve heard this more than enough times to know what they ramble without actually listening to the announcement. 😛 Anyway, we were all busy doing that stuff when suddenly me and everyone in the back compartment started hearing people scream and panic in the compartment in front of us. First thing me and some people sitting around me were thinking was that a passenger had an heart attack or seisure or something like that. The cabin crew started running towards the compartment and then a lot more people over there started sreaming and actually freaking out. All this time we in the back were told to stay calm and in our seats. It still wasn’t scary since I was still thinking a passenger in the front was really having a bad situation untill we started hearing people scream: “Help, oh my god. Fire, Fire. Help!!! etc” and everyone in front of us freaking out. I started smelling smoke from the fire as did the other people in the back and then cabin crew running back to find the fire extinguisher to put out the fire. That is when I started to worry and get scared. At that point just about everyone was either worried, stressed or scared of what was happening in the front. The scary part for me was not knowing what the hell was going on or how bad it was in the front because I could not see anything. I could only heard the screaming and smell the smoke. While all this was going on the cabin crew instructed us to keep our seats and our belts on and try to keep calm. Well … everyone panicking and all the screaming wasn’t helping but everyone stayed in their seat.
After what seemed like ages we heard people clappic and sort of cheering (I can’t really remember it that clearly anymore if they actually cheered) but they sounded relieved and the screaming stopped. Which made me feel a lot safer then the cabin crew screaming to us to stay calm. An announcement was made that someone tried to set the plane on fire and that the offender was being detained and held and that the situation was under control. Well, the steward was announcing that he sounded scared like hell and out of breath. I was joking that his announcement wasn’t really having a calming effect. Well after all of that we started with final approach and landed, which felt like it took ages. When we landed at tome point we were being escorted by a lot of police and security cars to out gate. I could see this since I had a window seat.
After we got to the gate we had to wait for the offender to be escorted out and the people that were injured too. Everyone was getting really anxious to get off the plane because a lot people had to catch connecting flights and all of us were not thinking of a failed terrorist attack at that time. We were all under the impression that some idiot set up fireworks and tried to make a fire on the plane or something like that. But that was about to change after we got off the plane. We were all herded to the baggageclaim area and detained for quite a while. Only being able to have some water from a water fountain and to go to the toilet one at a time. After a few hours security brought in dogs to sniff us and our carry ons and when that was done we had to wait some more without getting information, any food or any medical treatment (the young and elderly) or victim help. And we could not communicate to our loved ones to tell them we’re ok! At some point we were moved to a hallway like a herd of cows, I had no clue why but we had to sit there for about an hour without getting information as to why o how long it was gonna take. We didn’t get any water or food and if we wanted water or to go to the toilet we had to cue up and were escorted one at a time. I felt like I was being treated like a criminal while I was the damn victim.
At some point we got more information that there was more going on and that they had to scan the luggage so it would be safe for us to be in the baggageclaim area. When we got there they finally had a semi game plan on how to proces us like a herd of cows. We had to cue up for interviews with a FBI agent to tell what we saw, heard and experienced during the flight. After that we could go through customs and security and resume our flights or be rebooked etc. Just like that, no NWA/Delta personel helping all of us from flight NW253 with rebooking or hotel or whatever. Nope, we had to arrange all of that ourselves. I mean that’s really shitty crap service to your customers that have been through shit. Like I said, totally no medical care on stand by as far as I could see or any psychological help for the passengers of flight NW253. We were left in hanging in the cold! (If I remember my expressions correctly) A lot of people didn’t want to fly anymore that day but no we had to worry about getting to our destination on our own. Well after being interviewed and getting through customs I had to cue up to rebook my flight to NY which already landed in NY by the time I lined up at 6pm!!! It took another hour for me to get to the desk and had to find out that yes there were still flights to NY but NO there wasn’t a seat available for me anymore.
So I got booked on a flight that was leaving at 10am the next day and got a hotelroom with a food voucher and had to find my way on my own again. Like I said bad frigging service. No wonder NWA and Delta had to merge if this is how they treat everyone when stuff happens. Anyway, after a long day and getting to the hotel and having crap food and talking to other passengers, watching CNN and hearing it was a frigging terrorist attack instead of a nutbag setting of fireworks I posted something on FB and went to sleep.
More about the rest of my vacation aka part 2 coming soon …