September 30th, 1989
Stuck on the TriStar, on the tarmac in Delhi, India.
Flying as much as we do, you quickly become familiar with the workings of the ‘plane and soon get to know which sounds are normal, and more importantly, the ones that are not.
Shortly after we took off for Delhi this evening, while Laney and I were still strapped in our jumpseats, we gave each other a knowing look that said, “That doesn’t sound right.”
The Captain’s voice came over the PA. “Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking. I do apologize for the inconvenience but we will shortly be returning to the stand, where we will…”
Laney nudged my side and in a hushed tone, with her hand over her mouth, she asked, “Do you know what’s happening?”
“I would if you hadn’t interrupted what the Captain is saying.”
“It’s the undercarriage,” she whispered. “I’ve had this happen before.”
“What was the outcome?”
The phone rang and Laney answered it. I smiled reassuringly at the frightened looking middle-ages woman facing our jumpseats.
“Who was that?” I asked when Laney hung up.
“Fenny, ringing from the front. Apparently the undercarriage, see I told you, the undercarriage won’t go up. Fenny’s about to make an announcement, so buckle up because the passengers are not going to be happy campers.”
Two hours later, still on the ground, it was decided that we should do the drinks and meal service, if only to appease the more than disgruntled passengers.
Elderly male passenger in 28B; “When on earth are we going to Delhi? This is absolutely ridiculous. I need to get off and stretch my legs, I have problems with my veins, you know.”
Posh old bird in 34A; “I say, young lady, my husband (no sign of a husband) mistakenly packed my heart pills in my luggage. Is there any possible way that you or one of those (she pointed outside to the ground crew) people down there could fetch them?”
Too young to be complaining girl in 36B; “If I, like, miss my next flight to, like, Cat Man Do because of this, I’m, like, gonna be, like, way unhappy with, like, you guys.”
Boy in 36C trying desperately to impress the girl who couldn’t pronounce Kathmandu correctly; “I’m never flying with British Airways ever again.”
When Mr. Fenwick came into the galley with an update, he made us laugh when he said, “Basically, the bugger won’t budge.”
And it still hasn’t, so we’re still here on the aircraft, almost five hours after we were due to depart. The passengers are all off but apparently they’ll be boarding (again) in half an hour so we can give it one last shot to see if the undercarriage will co-operate.
I really need some chocolate mousse.