Airline: Southwest @ Love Field in Dallas
Departure Time: 7:30PM
Arrival Time: 11:30PM
Total Flight Time: 5 hours
- Departure – It’s been almost 10 years since the last time I flew. I was nervous. As the plane taxied down the runway, plane crash statistics ran through my head: 20% of plane crashes occur during take-off and the initial climb; 30% of fatalities occur during the take-off and the initial climb. I was grateful for the rosary in my bag.
- Dallas to Albuquerque – I had been in Boarding Group B which means I ended up in the middle seat. For us it was a smooth flight although I could see we were flying over a sheet of ominous clouds. I listened to my iPod over my Bose QuietComfort2 noise canceling headphones. We landed late due to “weather in Denver.” Flights from Denver had been diverted to Albuquerque (I just know those passengers were happy!) which meant the airport was receiving more planes than they knew what to do with. As we headed towards a gate, we were stopped by a stream of emergency vehicles. The sun set.
- Albuquerque to Las Vegas – With her cell phone battery running on low, my seatmate got talkative; she was unable to text as much as she had on the previous leg of the trip. She showed me (nude) pictures of her two boyfriends, one of whom she was going to Vegas to visit for a month. Apparently, all of her travels had been funded by various boyfriends. She had been to Niagara, Brazil, and all over the US, with a different boyfriend for each trip. As we neared Las Vegas, we became aware of the lights of the city. We tried to pick out the Strip amongst all those lights. The entire time, though, I was aware of the looming mountains and the darkness of the night. I thought of the book Alive.
- Las Vegas to San Francisco – We made up about 5 minutes on this leg of the trip. It was a smooth flight. We flew over lots of plots of lights but it was flying over the San Matteo bridge which marked our destination. We were in San Francisco air space and we were flying over water for the first time in our journey. All of the sudden, I found myself wondering about flotation devices: Are our seats still flotation devices in case of a water landing?
- Arrival – We arrived on time which meant it was 1:30AM my time. I should have been tired but I wasn’t. I was too excited. I was also relieved to see my friend waiting for me at the gate. My nightmares had included being left alone to figure my way to the hotel. I would be staying on the border of Daly City and Colma. As we drove to the hotel, I had to wonder, ‘Why are we passing so many mortuaries?’
Note: As I type this, PBS is running an Independent Lens episode: “Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survivors”.