Tarmac delays threatened aircraft evacuation on inactive taxiway

When last we left you, Nazy, Dan, Melika, Tiger and Arrow were enjoying the Grand Canyon and family. The park was breathtaking and the stars we astounding. The Grand(est)sons were bonding — at least until Tiger decided to ‘share’ a toy Humvee with Arrow.

“Arrow doesn’t want you to drive your car on his head!” Melika instructed. “
And he really doesn’t like it when you drop the car on his head,” she thought.

But we can’t live in a National Park, so we geared up for the flight(s) home.

I’m glad that Melika rented a full-sized behemoth,” I thought, as I carried (in several trips) a mountain of luggage toward a gargantuan SUV.
tiger and Arrow Nov 2016

When I pack for a trip,” I thought as I climbed up the stairs to retrieve even more suitcases, “I select a subset of stuff to bring. When Melika packs, she figures out a way to cram everything they own into suitcases.”

The drive to the Flagstaff Airport was smooth and uneventful. The American Airlines flight, on a small regional jet, was on-time. The local staff was kind, caring and nice. It was, of course, a set-up.

We had to change planes in Phoenix. Clearly alerted about my presence by United Airlines, American began by placing our incoming and outgoing gates as far apart as possible: “I feel like we arrived in Nova Scotia and we’re leaving from Baja California,” I said as we trekked through the airport. Then, to top it off, American Airlines assigned Cruella De Vil as our gate agent.

Since we were accompanying a baby and a toddler, Nazy asked Cruella if we could board early. It was a reasonable request that had been granted on every other flight segment. Thus, this response was unexpected (and unappreciated.)

“No!” I overheard Cruella shout. “You must board in your boarding group.”

I looked at our boarding passes: BOARDING GROUP 27. “
We must have gotten a really good deal on these tickets,” I thought as I viewed our 7 carry-ons — not counting Tiger and Arrow. I grew increasingly despondent as they boarded US Military, Diamond Elite, Emerald Elite, First Class, Platinum Elite, Silver Elite, Premium travelers and Boarding Groups 1 through 26..

“We were boarding group
4, Dan.” Nazy interrupts. “Not group 27.”

“Group 4 was the
last group,” I reply. “So it’s the same thing,” I thought. When they finally called our group, we pushed to the front with Melika’s two part ‘Main Battle Stroller,' a wheeled device almost as large (and heavy) as her SUV.

“Why didn’t you tell me that you had children and
this?” Cruella scowled pointing to the stroller.

“I did. And
you told me to go away.” Nazy replied.

“You’ll have to gate check the stroller.”

“I hope so,” I said.

Everyone at the Grand Canyon

Everyone in GC Shahrzad Birthday

The flight was smooth. We left on-time, arrived almost on time. Then we sat on the tarmac waiting for a gate. [The flight was a little more than one hour; the tarmac wait was a little less than two hours.)

The pilot updated us regularly (about every 20 minutes) with an insincere apology and a woefully inaccurate prediction of arrival time. (“

Naturally, I waited patiently… for about 5 minutes. [When the airplane lands,
I want out.]

Arrow waited patiently for a (little) bit longer. Melika, who had to catch a flight to San Francisco began to get antsy. Tiger was asleep on Nazy’s lap. At the one hour mark, I had placed my briefcase, which had been stowed under my seat, in the aisle and was walking with Arrow. (He wasn’t patient anymore.) The purser accosted me..

“You can’t walk in the aisle.” He commanded.

“Where else is there to walk?” I replied.

“It is not safe. We are on an active taxiway.”

Active?” We haven’t moved in the last 45 minutes.”

“And you have to place that briefcase in the overhead bin.”

Overhead bin?” I thought. “It was under my seat.” I replied.

“You have to move it. We may need to evacuate the airplane.”

“Evacuate the airplane? That would make
everyone happy.”

“Dan!” Nazy interrupted.

I shoved my briefcase under my seat and handed Arrow to Melika. Eventually our Airbus limped to the gate. Melika, pleading short connection, was escorted to the front and she dashed toward her flight — which she missed. Tiger woke up, assessed the situation and reacted.

“I just want to go out!” He declared — echoing the sentiments of everyone else on the airplane.
I began collecting the carry-on luggage — all seven pieces (not counting the two babies). Although we were the last people off the airplane, we still had to wait for the gate-checked stroller. We were also the last people to collect the checked baggage.


As we walked through the terminal, Nazy complained..

“I don’t know who had the bigger tantrum, Dan. You or Tiger.”

“Excuse me?” I replied. “
I’m sure that I won that competition,” I thought smugly. “You weren’t happy either, Nazy.” I asserted.

“And I let them know it, Dan.”


“I didn’t say ‘thank you’ when I got off the airplane and I did not smile either.”

“Well — you showed them!” I exclaimed. “
Nazy didn’t smile?” I thought. “Unthinkable!”

The drive home was punctuated by commentary from Tiger.

“I don’t want to go to your house. I don’t want to sit here. I don’t want that car. Sit here Mamon.”

Arrow slept most of the trip. On Monday, Nazy and Melika carved the Halloween Pumpkins. (Tiger had sketched the design.) But..

“They’re not going trick or treating?” I asked. Incredulous. “Melika and Tom love costume events.”

Nazy, Arrow, Tiger

Halloween both babies

“This year, they’ll just come to our house. No costumes.”

“Is Tom feeling okay?” I persisted.

"I think he's okay, Dan." Nazy replied.

"Last year, Tiger had a velvet and gold chair, orange face paint and puffed up hair.He was a frightening ogre that threatened human civilization."

"He was Donald Trump."

"Precisely And Tom was paired with Melika: He went as a horse head and Melika was the horses’ …. Ah ha! That probably explains the no-costume decision this year.”

For last week's letter, click here

Tiger and his cars

Tiger and some cars Nov 2016

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