March 05, 2011

I pledge Allegiance ...

"Ah, just sit back and relax." — Pilot

After a bit more time, I decided to call Wood TV 8 out of Grand Rapids. I had seen enough and read enough about plan debacles and folks being left on the tarmac (think Jet Blue here) that I thought the media might care about our plight. So, I called the “tip line.” 

Talking with Casey from Wood TV. They sent the crew out after they realized the situation wasn't getting better. 

I talked to Larry Figurski, and I don’t think he believed me at first. He asked some good questions, which I answered. I figured that was the end of things, until he called back about 10 minutes later. We had been on the plan for nearly three hours at this point, and that’s the “legal limit” for planes. I figured Allegiant Air had found a loop hole, though, because they were in no hurry to take us back in.

Lori just wanted to get in the air to Florida!!!

Larry called again. Was I aware of the three hour rule. I told him I thought that’s what it was, but the folks from Allegiant weren’t talking about it. He said he had researched it and that was the case. 

We finally loaded the plane at 9:30 p.m. and sat on the tarmac for another hour. 

Larry called a couple more times and we kept him informed. He told me my clip with the camera crew would run at 11 o'clock. I figured that we would be able to see it after we headed back in … but the pilot kept saying we were going to get out. We loaded at 9:30 — and many of us figured that we would be on the plane until 12:30, then deplane. (AGAIN!) 

Around 10:30, the pilot said we were heading out. We doubted it. 

Then, we were actually driving out and it seemed like we might be leaving, even in the lousy weather. 

We got in the air, and the launch was not terrible. 

The Allegiant Air plane landed in Sanford at 12:30 a.m. 

It's a "small world," after all. 

All of us walked off the plane and were greeted by the folks in Sanford who had been waiting since 9 a.m. to board our plane for the ride back to Michigan. 

I said to one gentleman, "How long have you been waiting." 

"All day," he said. 

Then, several of them said, "Rick, we've been waiting for you." 

Apparently, the news was so big, that the NBC affiliate in Orlando ran the interview, too. 

We arrived at our hotel in Lakeland at 4 a.m. Then, eleven hours later, we arrived at Disney World. 

The Haunted Mansion, the coolest place at Walt Disney World. 

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