(You can read part 1 here and part 3 here)
So our last episode had the Intrepid Binjo Ditch making his flight with minutes to spare. He's happy to report that he made it to Atlanta a few minutes early, which he knew would be helpful in getting a meal, and just relaxing that little bit more. As I deplaned, I went and checked the screen for where my connection would be - gate B10. I'm at gate B34 (or something), and thus have to walk halfway across the state. I get to the gate and attempt to get my boarding pass only to find out that my gate has been changed, I now have to go to gate B25. Joy. I get to the gate and get my boarding pass and find something nice to eat (Nathan's hot dog and fries, not bad, but definitely overpriced). I enjoy my meal and have a pleasant conversation with a woman who is waiting to fly to Nashville, but her flight has been delayed. As I'm sitting, and with about an hour before our scheduled departure, we get a notification of gate change for our flight. I have to move again - this time it's only 3 gates (to B22), but it's now my third gate at Atlanta.
We get to the gate, and notice that the departure time is about 30 minutes later than what is scheduled on our ticket. A few minutes later, the concierge gets on the speaker and informs us that due to the weather (I think this is what we were told), our plane did not arrive, so we are in the queue to get a new plane from the hangar and we should have it here in about 30 minutes. It will then take about 15-30 minutes to do a security sweep of the plane (Threat Level Orange) and stock it for the flight. Great. I was expecting to get in to town at 4:15 and have time for a nice leisurely dinner with my in-laws who were planning on driving in to meet me. I'd then be able to relax, go over my resume and notes, jot down some questions of my own, and just be relaxed for the meeting. A 1 hour delay isn't going to be deadly - an inconvenience, yes, but not deadly.
Of course, this isn't the end of the delay. Apparently it takes some effort to get a plane to a gate from the hangar, as this brief 30-60 minute delay gets delayed by half hour increments (and one one hour increment), until such time as our plane arrives at 7:30. I'm chatting with another passenger who was part of a group that had been snowed in the previous day, and part of their group decided to charter a bus, which was 2/3 of the way to Indianapolis by this time. We also make various jokes about how long it will be before the plane arrives, etc. We get on the plane and a German individual I met who was on his way to Indianapolis as well looks up and says "we're finally on our way." I reply that I'm not taking anything for granted and want to wait until the plane is in the air before I trust anything after a 5-hour delay.
But, we get fully loaded, do a thorough pre-flight check, and we start our taxi out to the runway. We get up to next in line, and are ready for departure. We accelerate, getting up to lift-off speed, just about to take off, and there's this loud "pop!" Our right engine blew. The pilot thinks some debris hit the engine, but regardless, it's going to kep us from leaving. We then have to sit on the tarmac for 30 minutes waiting for a tow truck. We get back to the gate (B15) and are told that they will have a replacement plane ready for us at gate B11, if we wish to wait a few more minutes to take off. Most of us decide to wait, we're told it will only be a few minutes. One of the passengers, about 15 minutes later, decides to check on the status of the new plane, which we note is conspicuously absent from the gate. We are told it's on the way from the hangar and that it should be there in 15 minutes. Fine, we can handle that.
About an hour and a half later (it's now about 9:45), we check on the plane that was supposed to be there in 15 minutes. The concierge checks with the hangar and gets in the intercom to inform us that "our plane left the hangar about 30 minutes ago and should be here by now, but they need to see what's going on because it's not here and we don't know where it is." Now, I'm not entirely sure how one goes about losing a plane, but my first thought is "did you check your pockets," because oftentimes if I'm looking for a pen or keys or something, I find that they are in my pockets. I'm also somewhat bemused that a major airline can LOSE A PLANE!
I thought I'd be able to finish in 2 parts, but unfortunately, I need to get to work, so I expect there will be a part 3 in the making this evening.