Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why I don't recommend Air Jamaica

The flight went. No modifier in that sentence, but I'm home. They boarded us when they said they would (at 6pm rather than 5pm), but then we sat on the plane for half an hour or so before they announced that we would be stopping in St Lucia for fuel. Oh, and because of strong headwinds the flight would take 30-40 minutes longer than usual. People were *pissed* because we were already running pretty late, and because they announced it on the plane rather than in the waiting area where we might have been able to contact folks back in the states that we would be even later. Another half hour went by and we started hearing luggage scraping underneath. I asked the woman by the window, "Oh my goodness, are they still loading luggage??" and she looked. "No, honey, they aren't loading luggage, they are unloading luggage." The captain got on the intercom and told us the story: the Grenada runway is too short for the plane to take off with a full load of passengers, a full cargo of luggage, AND a full tank of fuel, that's why we were going to stop in St Lucia (please don't get me started on the question of why this seemingly obvious issue hadn't caused a change in plane selection and/or schedules before that day). However, the mechanics had filled the fuel tank to the brim, and apparently you can't really take fuel back out. But you can remove luggage! (By my account after watching the number of people lined up to report missing luggage at JFK, at least 75% of the luggage was removed)

In addition to the frustration of being late, not knowing if/when we'd see our luggage, and being crowded into the smallest seats possible, we also had to worry if the plane was going to take off - did they remove enough luggage for us to lift up? The take off was the most silent I'd ever experienced. No one was talking. Babies were even quiet. As we taxied to the runway, I laced my fingers together in my lap and made peace with myself - everyone in my life knows I love them. My only concern was that some of the people I love might not hear about my demise should the plane go down, but I figured that word would get to everyone eventually. Maybe I should make a phone chain?

Suffice to say, despite the very rough, very steep take off, we did indeed make it into the air, we did indeed make it to New York without running out of fuel, and they did indeed neglect to leave my luggage on the plane. My camera battery and adaptor are therefore still somewhere other than here, and all of the beautiful pictures will have to wait for another day. The island was much more beautiful than the trip home, and I have the pictures to prove it.


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