It was several years ago and I was basically commuting to London. I mostly took UA934 out of LAX and UA935 on the return. The crews were pretty familiar to me and I had my routine. Almost always seated on the aisle in 13B in Business Class. It looked like this:
|Yep, the old school Business Class seat on the old gray mare|
I've flown more than enough to know something was askew. Suddenly that hissing noise didn't seem so innocuous anymore. I also knew that this airplane was an amazing piece of technology. My years of working for Boeing taught me that but that being said, something was up. Now, all the flight attendants took positions at the head of each cabin. Then, the captain came on and announced that we were suffering some "significant" issues with one of our two engines and that we were declaring an emergency and returning to London. At that very moment, the cabin went dead silent. Literally you could have heard a pin drop. I was no longer interested in my chicken jeerza. The captain then instructed us to listen to the instructions of the flight attendants. Oh goodie...the purser then came on and explained that all services were terminated and that as she got more information from the captain, they would give us additional information.
Well, you've never seen a cabin of a 777 get cleaned up so fast. My chicken jeerza, one bite gone, was snatched away from me. At this point, I was fine with that. So then began the longest 90 minutes of my life. At about 45 minutes out, we had more announcements - we'd be making an emergency landing, and while it was expected to be normal, the flight attendants would be walking us through some information. Like what to do if things weren't normal. Lovely. At about 30 minutes out, one of the flight attendants came up to me and 13A to ask us if we would help in the event they were incapacitated if (BIG IF) things weren't normal upon landing. We both said yes and got a crash (ooh bad pun) course in the emergency instructions card. Again, I noticed how stunningly quiet it was on this plane. We only had one engine working so that made it even quieter. I was never so glad to look out and see the green countryside of England.
At about ten minutes out, we were told that there would be fire trucks following us upon landing but we shouldn't worry. As if we hadn't been worrying for the last two hours. We were also advised that they didn't think we'd have to assume the "brace" position either. At that point, my mind was pretty much focused on what to do if things did go wonky upon landing. I was certain I'd be getting out of that plane. The last few minutes of approach were the longest.ever.
That touchdown at LHR was the sweetest and smoothest ever. Sure enough, a flotilla of fire trucks sped alongside us as we made our way to a "safe" area off the runway. Once we stopped, there was some clapping. A couple of minutes, we got the green light to leave the plane - via the stairs. No slides for us. We were walking off in one piece.
Suffice to say that flight was cancelled and I got another night in LHR on Mother United's dime. It was a fun phone call home to the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML explaining why I was going to be a little tardy. I got my chicken jeerza the next day on our rescheduled flight. I was happy.
That trip down memory lane was courtesy of a traffic jam on the tollway today. I miss those international trips.