As I woke up last week I thought it was just another day: waking up in a Marriott hotel, taking the shuttle to the airport, getting my boarding pass at 4:30am and going thru security so early that I was the only one in line. Well this day was like no other. Thirty seconds after our 6:00am takeoff the pilot come on and calmly said you may have felt that thump and noticed that we hit a flock of birds. As we were making a 90 degree turn to the left the pilot said we need to return to O’Hare right away.
As we landed I noticed that we were basically surrounded by fire trucks, emergency vehicles and other airport cars. We stopped on the runway as inspectors and engineers came on the plane to assess the damage.
After a short amount of time the engineers took the plane out of commission and they deboarded us and reboarded us about an hour later on a different plane.
I really don’t want to make this about was I scared or not or the thoughts that went thru my mind. What I will say is this happened so, so fast that it was over before I truly knew and could understand what was going on.
The real question is what are the lessons learned?
How can I put this into perspective?
When I look back on this, the pilot was VERY calm in an emergency situation. He made a decision very quickly (within 30 seconds) communicated what was going on, what was going to happen and then when we made a safe landing, effectively communicated to the engineers exactly what happened so the experts could decide (quickly) what to do with the plane and passengers.
To me that is the message – to me that is the lesson.
- Yes life is too short
- Yes life can be taken away at a moment’s notice
- Yes bad things can happen quickly
- Yes you shouldn’t put off everything until next week
- Yes you should tell your friends what they mean to you
The list can go on and on.
But to me it was really about communication. The way the pilot handled himself in a difficult situation was amazing. He was calm and kept everyone calm! What would have happened if he was frazzled when he made the announcement or decided what we should do. It would have been chaos and passengers could have gotten hurt. Thankfully no one was injured. Yes people were scared and decided not to get on the new flight–their choice and I respect that.
- What do you think the message was?
- What do you think I should have learned from this experience?
- Has this ever happened to you?
- If so what happened?
I really look forward to your comments