“Here we go again.” In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the goldenrod droid C-3PO, who hates space travel, resigns himself to his fate aboard the Millennium Falcon. And so it was with me, resigned to my fate to travel to Phoenix, Arizona for work in our data center. It’s not that I hate space travel; having never really tried it, I couldn’t honestly say. But airline travel? That’s a droid of a different color.
Departing from home, I skated through the TSA’s modest security checkpoint and arrived at my gate. For those who haven’t traveled Southwest Airlines, they have a rather unique way of seating: you get your seat assignment when you get your boarding pass. The later you get your pass, the later you board the plane which leaves you with the most undesirable seats. I learned this lesson from my previous excursion to the data center: you can check in and print your own boarding pass online 24 hours prior to departure. This time, I fared much better in my seat selection.
|My breakfast with an 11.5oz can? How cheap is that? I want my .5 oz!|
The trip had one stop where I didn’t have to change planes. While on the ground, and before the next herd of passengers stampeded the aisle, we who were continuing our flight were allowed to re-seat ourselves. Score! As there were only 11 of us, we had a plethora of choices.
Unfortunately for me, once the next group boarded, I ended up next to the guy who was … well, not grossly overweight, but was broad enough to crunch me into the corner of the window seat.
For the next 4½ hours.
Touchdown in Phoenix, my co-worker picked me up and whisked me to the hotel. A quick shower, and a small dram of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban later, I was off to meet with the rest of the team to plan our assault on the data center.
Since the servers were “live” servers, we had to wait until after 10pm local time before our work could commence. We finished around 3:30am. I had literally been up for 24 hours at this point.
We were allowed to sleep late the next day, but being from the east coast I was up early. I enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then a company-sponsored brunch (which was essentially a second breakfast for me) and then it was back to the data center.
I don’t want to bore you with the details, so I’ll jump ahead to the travel part, which is really what this is all about (or aboot, for you Canadians reading this, eh?).
|Before: What a mess||After: Much nicer!|
I arrived at the Phoenix airport with just enough time to get through security (TSA got me this time – had to go through the dreaded back-scatter x-ray machine and was briefly searched along my left arm where my digital watch was concealed beneath the long sleeve of my shirt. No “body cavity” search, though, thank goodness!) and find my gate. It was fifteen minutes to boarding, which was not enough time for me to find anything to eat.
We boarded and pushed away from the gate. After sitting in the taxi-way for quite a while, my seat-mate next to the window saw some smoke from the wing. He, and the guy behind him, discussed whether or not that was normal. Then, a moment later, the captain informed us that we had lost some hydraulics and that he was unable to steer the plane while it was on the ground. A tow-car-thingy was on its way to drag us back to the terminal.
We later learned that we had lost an actuator seal in a piece of equipment that caused the A-Hydraulic pressure to drop. I was glad that it happened on the ground!
Luckily, Southwest had another plane into which they were able to migrate all of us travelers. Many of the passengers had already missed their connections, and Southwest had arranged alternative routes for them on other planes. The rest of us boarded and were away from the gate with much haste.
|Free 120z cans!|
|They broke this thingy.|
In all, we lost 1½ hours on the ground.
Soon, though, we were “wheels up” and on our way! Exhausted from much work, and too little sleep, I was happy to finally be heading home. In my opinion, Southwest handled the problem with much efficiency and professionalism – I was quite impressed. I got free beer on the flight (hooray, beer! That one’s for you, Rick) and a quiet seat mate who only wanted to sleep.
Which, to me, sounded like a terrific idea!
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