Birthday time coming for Dilshad, so had to go somewhere; Morocco it is
Destination Moroccan Sahara desert
Took a mid-day flight from Dallas to Miami, and then got Business Class from Miami to Barcelona; leaving at 6:25PM. Boarded the Boeing 777 plane with about 250 other passengers, got settled in, and then the captain announced during the pre-checking that there was a problem with the hydraulics, and so he had requested Maintenance to come check it out.
After about 1.5hrs, we were informed that the problem could not be easily fixed, and so they were going to look for another aircraft for us to take us to Barcelona. So we de-planed at about 8PM; and waited for a new plane to get assigned. After 10PM, we were informed that the new plane was found; and was being cleaned/prepared for us. 11:30PM was set as the departure time.
11:30PM came and went, and they would still not let us board the 2nd aircraft. Explanation was that the original crew had by now become “illegal” in terms of their work time (crew was no longer “fresh” enough for the flight; esp the pilots). So for safety, a reserve crew had been called but had not yet made it to the airport.
By now, the passengers were getting ansy; as the flight had not yet been cancelled, and they did not have their luggage to make alternative arrangements, and it was getting late. At about midnight, one of the 3 pilots arrives and is given a standing ovation by the passengers for showing up :). Everybody is keen to take off.
Soon after midnight, we board the 2nd plane, same seating, and make ourselves comfortable. The Captain was not yet on board, but we were assured he was on his way, and that we would soon be taking off. So, got comfortable and made it half way thru a movie (The Accountant; its good), and the Captain arrived and announced that we were ready to take off.
The plane was pushed back from the gate, and after doing his final checks, the Captain came on to announce that a generator on the left engine was showing an issue, and so the plane would be pulled back to the gate, and maintenance was called to come check out the problem with the generator in the left engine.
Plane gets pulled back to the gate and my movie continues. My movie completes, and I notice that several armed cops had boarded the plane and positioned themselves at several places on the aisle, The Captain then announces that the electrical problem could not be fixed and that the plane was being decommissioned to be repaired. We were informed that this flight would take off the next day at 3PM.
It’s about 2AM by now, and some passengers are very irate, but the presence of the cops ensures things are calm. Some women passengers are visibly upset and crying. Nobody is happy at this point. We deplane again, and outside, there are more cops, directing passengers to gate agents to receive boarding passes for the next day’s 3PM flight, and hotel vouchers. We get the boarding passes, but no hotel vouchers as we are airline staff standby passengers.
So, we quickly make a booking online; and head out. Since there are many people (250 or so) from this flight making their way to hotels, the lines at the courtesy bus places are quite busy, so we call an Uber to take us to the hotel, so hopefully, we arrive ahead of the crowd and can get checked in faster so we can get to sleep. We finally get settled into the hotel room just after 3AM.
Next day, after leisurely waking up and a late breakfast, we make it back to the airport; and head back to the gate for boarding. We board the (different) plane, we are assured, a little after 3PM, and once again, same seats; we get settled in. I start on my next movie (Lion) and about half an hour later, the Capitain comes on the intercom and announces that because the plane is going across the ocean, an over water test is required for the airplane, and that this plane has not had that test done, and the test can only be done with the plane empty of all passengers. This test is routine, and the fact that the test had not been done yet was not communicated to the gate staff and the Captain; otherwise, they would not have allowed passengers to board the plane.
So we deplane for the 3rd time. Most passengers are now angry and yelling in the gate boarding area and some women are crying and asking for their luggage and refunds etc etc. The Gate staff are booed down when trying to make their announcements. The Captain comes to the gate area and re-assures everybody. Most people are still not happy but do hear him out. A lot of very unhappy people at the gate; one passenger encourages everyone to get onto social media and let the world know what is happening on #AA112
So its back to the Admirals Club for us (for the umpteenth time); the staff there know us well by now 🙂 . Its become a hilarious situation. New boarding time is now set for 5:30PM. We now board the same flight (AA112) for the 4th time, onto the 3rd aircraft, and 3 de-planings; and everybody is praying that nothing else goes wrong. 4th time boarding was lucky for us and plane takes off and we arrive safely in Barcelona. The probability of what happened to us 250 passengers is so low, that I don’t think many people could say they have experienced this sequence of events. You live and experience things 🙂