Every Man for Himself

October 21, 2011

in Odds & Ends Stories

There is no easy way to fly from Charlotte, NC where I live to Moncton, NB, Canada where my parents live. You have to connect somewhere and I’ve tried almost every conceivable way to do it. You either have a connection that is too tight for comfort or you languish in your connecting airport for hours.

So in September of 2011 I thought I would try the one remaining route that I had never attempted… through the dreaded Newark Liberty Airport. Agh!

I had an hour and a half for my connection but we left Charlotte an hour late. I know you can circle Newark for some time so now I was getting a bit stressed. I worried needlessly as we landed in plenty of time for me to make my second flight.

This is where things turned ugly. Oh, did I mention my father was gravely ill, and if I didn’t make it to Moncton I would probably never see him alive again? We got all the way to Moncton and the landing gear was deployed. I was literally a ten minute drive from my parents house. Suddenly the flight attendant turned to me (I was right up front on this teeny weeny plane) and giggled that she didn’t think we were going to land. Say what?! About thirty seconds later, the pilot came on the PA and said that fog was preventing us from landing and we were going back to Newark. First of all, I saw no fog out the window and I could clearly see the runway and airport terminal. Secondly, don’t these jets have auto pilot?

We arrived back at Newark around 11:00pm and the airport was basically shut down for the night. The staff member at the gate said to stick around because we might attempt the flight again once the plane was refueled. No sooner was it refueled than it took off for parts unknown without us. There were about sixty of us that were totally abandoned at Terminal C, including a few people in wheelchairs and a few babies.

There were no available flights the next day to my destination so I had no choice but to go back to Charlotte the next morning. I found out there was a 6:30am flight on a different airline and I insisted that the ticketing counter charge it back to the original airline. There was one seat left on that flight and I was the last to board.

I traveled for an entire day without getting to my destination, I didn’t get to see my father, and I spent a horrible, sleepless night walking the halls of Newark Liberty Airport. To add insult to injury, United Airlines did not want to refund the leg of the trip I completed! Outrageous. I fought and got a full refund. All in all, perhaps the worst day of my life.

One last thing, I was under the impression that laws were passed a few years ago that made it mandatory for airlines to tell the truth to passengers. Did I dream this or is this only in Canada? I would say there was some funny business going on; obviously the United plane was needed for something else and that’s why we didn’t land in Moncton, but to lie to us and treat passengers with such blatant disregard was a real eye opener. No apology, no meal vouchers, no hotel, no help. Basically it was every man for himself.

– Jo-Anne

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Belle October 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I'm a little confused here. Are you saying that the pilot should have used the autopilot function to land the plane? Because I was under the impression that autopilot generally wasn't used when landing a plane.


Aaron October 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Wow, talk about missing the point, Belle!


Belle October 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I got what the op was talking about, but I was just asking for clarification about the autopilot portion of the post.


Thedrek January 23, 2012 at 7:23 am

A few airports (3 to be specific) allows planes to be brought down on full auto pilot, and renders excuses like too much fog useless (Norway's main airport, Gardermoen is one of thoose 3).


Joe October 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Auto-pilot is only used to fly the plane after it has completed the take off leg and is In use during the cruise part of the flight. If pilots were to land with a/p on it would turn catastrophic for the fact it can’t make up for wind direction quick enough and there is to many variables to allow a computer to land a plane. That’s why there is two pilots


Belle October 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Thank you. That's exactly what I was requesting clarification on.


crella October 23, 2011 at 4:26 am

You don't abort a landing and head back to the original airport because 'the plane was needed'…


cheap flight deals November 3, 2011 at 5:17 am

Airlines don't take the plane to the source destinations, at least they should have landed the plane some where near to the final destination. Taking the plane back with all the passengers and giving excuses was not done.


Mike November 13, 2011 at 12:39 am

Actually, autopilots can land airplanes. Autoland require at least 2 coupled autopilots which capture the ILS (instrument landing system). Also, the aircraft has to have a radio altimeter, and the pilot must have currency on a CATIII approach. The said approach must also be CATIII, do only certain pilots, airplanes, airports, and approaches can do this.



Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: