On the return journey: delays. Snow all over Switzerland. Not a real problem, they’re ready for it. But something goes wrong on the plane as we begin taxiing toward the runway. The captain says “We had a problem as we powered up the engines, so we’re returning to the gate.” Engines? Problem? Those two words can’t be used in the same sentence without the hearer experiencing an immediate sense of impending doom. It doesn’t help that when we return to the gate, the sounds from outside the plane, obviously mechanical, are those of a car trying to accelerate its way of a snowdrift to no avail. WhOOOmm! WhOOOmmm! Not good. You implicitly trust the Swiss to do the right thing, to err on the side of safety. But this is American Airlines after all, the guys who boasted in their inflight promo that they would soon have the youngest fleet in the air, a five year rejuvenation plan. But all that meant to the hardened critic of discourse was that they currently were flying jets whose peak service epoch was some time early in the Reagan era.
Meanwhile, the whooming continued, and the four cathode ray screens in the pauper, er , economy cabin were showing an animated plane in the air but not moving over the high, hard, Swiss mountains. Occasionally the view would pan out and the little avatar would project a flight path across the north Atlantic. I knew there was storm out there, roughly the size of Madagascar but spinning a lot faster.
In the real territory we were waiting for Captain Tom Kimball to get back to us, either to tell us to enjoy Zurich in the blizzard or get ready to take our chances in the air with one good engine.
Kinda glad he chose to keep us in Zurich, especially since that was the last flight out. Yes, Sandy the Hurricane had caused all flights into New York to be delayed until at least Wednesday. I managed to reroute the next day to London, where at least if I don’t return later today I can hang out at some great bookstores. English profs love London, so I’ll find a way to survive as I enter into the sixth day of my three day clothes supply.
Two pics: Heathrow in its glory outside gate 65, and there’s my plane. Bonus picture, Zurich, world’s best city to live in, if you can afford it.