My last day in San Francisco after the Dairy Goats Convention was amazing and fabulous. It was warm and sunny. And, I even got a chance to visit The Nova Studio. Lori Nova has been a force in the soapmaking industry for many years. She runs an adorable instructional studio and was kind enough to give me and my Mom a tour. The photo above is of me and Lori, in front of her “Classes Wall.” Everything behind us was made in a class that you can take at The Nova Studio.
After a lovely lunch in little Point Richmond, California, we headed off to the airport.
I’ve never really thought much about the mechanics of plane travel. Quite frankly, I don’t want to. As a naturally nervous flier who generally requires antianxiety medication just to get on a plane, I generally board the plane, belt myself tightly in, make small talk with the person next to me, put ear plugs in and start to pray. Sure, I look like I’m reading a magazine or a book, but really, I’m just repeating The Lord’s Prayer. Over and over and over. Sometimes, I’ll quit long enough to eat but generally, most plane rides are an exercise in deep breathing, self control and excessively cold sweaty palms.
If I had my choice, I would never get in a plane again. I however, do not have that option. I am gratified and humbled that I get asked to speak about and teach the art, craft and business of soapmaking all over the nation. So, I’m often on a plane to talk to the media, soap conventions or this week, the National Dairy Goats Association about Soapmaking, Lotionmaking and even Marketing 101.
This was one such week. Click here, here and here if you missed the week of posts on Goats, Soap & Cheese. On Friday, my Mother and I boarded separate planes in the San Francisco Airport to get back home to Washington. She was flying to Seattle and I was flying directly back to Bellingham on discount carrier, Allegiant Air. I did my Lord’s Prayer, tight seat belt, deep breathing thing as I was seated in an Exit Row (next to a delightful bank manager from Scotia Bank in Canada). We were told that the flight would be a quick 75 minutes. I breathed a sigh of relief because I had scheduled my husband and I to go to a dinner party at 8 p.m.
At 6:55 (or so), the pilot got on the loud speaker and said, “Well Folks, it looks like some weather patterns have changed since we took off in San Francisco and so we’re just going to need to touch down in Seattle to pick up some gas. We don’t have enough gas to make it to Bellingham Airport and land safely”
There was some murmurs on the plane as people struggled to understand this news. Pick up gas? Huh? What does that mean? Hey! Do we not have enough gas to make it to Bellingham?
Yes, that was indeed the case. It seems that Allegiant Air mis-calculated how much gas we would need to make it safely to Bellingham and just wanted to pop into Sea-Tac Airport to grab some more.
Except, we’re not driving a little 2-seater car going down the freeway. We’re in a huge jet, with 150 plus people, hurtling at 600 miles per hour, in the air, 40,000 feet above land! Airlines aren’t supposed to miscalculate the gas when the odds are that poor!
So down we went into Seattle. My Mom texted me that she was safe in Seattle. I texted her back that I too, was safe in Seattle. She was surprised to hear of the unscheduled stop. I was more than a little surprised and worried; the late dinner party seeming more and more trivial by the minute. The man seated one away from me started yelling obscenities, calling the pilot a “Flying Sack of [Excrement]” and generally making himself out to be a nuisance. The mood was tense and worried.
Since Allegiant doesn’t have a hub in Seattle, they had to land at a United hub and borrow gas. A little United van (really, it was quite charming) came screaming up to the plane. A man in a suit came running up the gangplank, the attendants opened the door and let him in. The United suit gave some paperwork to the pilots. Presumably, this was the bill for the gas Allegiant was now buying.
Finally, we were allowed to get back in the air for the additional 18 minute flight to Bellingham. We landed in Bellingham a good two hours late but safe.
In closing, the words of this experienced pilot make more sense than anything I could ever say about this:
If you’re not checking your fuel level before take off, not paying attention to your fuel consumption and consumption records, you don’t have any business doing the preflight planning, and even less business actually doing the flying.
You shouldn’t worry about running out of fuel because it should never happen, and it’s the responsibility of the pilot to make sure it never happens.
If you’re incapable of fuel management, you’re fodder for the Darwin Awards.
I will not fly Allegiant Air again.