Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oops. High drama at the airport

A few weeks ago we went off to Arizona, Cave Creek to be exact, to spend a week with my sister and brother in law. Despite my increased good health, flying is the only travel option for the two of us. When I first retired I promised myself that I would never darken the doorway of an airport again. The years of business travel had taken its toll on my psyche. So much for promises...

We bought our ticket early for a Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to Phoenix and back at 1/2 price! Southwest is not the airline it once was, back in the 90's, but it's hard to beat for value.

On travel day one we were at the airport around 10 in the morning and on a Wednesday the airport is fairly quiet. Almost enjoyable. Going through security we were shunted through a separate aisle and  given the 'preferred treatment' and never had to take our shoes off or be body scanned. We were smiling! We stopped at Peet's and bought a coffee apiece and a scone to share. I bought a cross word puzzle book and a copy of Mac World. (I'm hoping to accelerate my education all things Apple) We watched people as we sat in the comfortable departure lounge area. The airport was almost serene...and so were we.

Departure time came and we found some seats just aft of the wing. That's my preferred section to sit in as it takes awhile for the luggage to be unloaded and I would rather sit in the plane and wait for a awhile rather than stampede off and stand around the baggage carousel for half an hour. The flight was uneventful, a good thing, and once on the ground I contacted my sister and we texted back and forth as the plane slowly emptied. She told me that they would be waiting for us at baggage claim. All was cool...

At Sky Harbor, the Phoenix airport, you have to take a long, long escalator ride down to baggage claim from the arrival floor. We stepped on and began our long descent. Suddenly, very close to the bottom, a woman, ahead of us, fell backwards, towards us. The person ahead of me went down on top of her as the escalator kept on moving. Suddenly, I was down as well and felt someone landing on my back. The escalator kept moving. As I was falling, I remember thinking, among many other thoughts, that someone had to reach the emergency shutoff. Soon! There were probably 5 or 6 of us down and struggling to get out when someone, on the outside, grabbed the initial fallen lady by her feet and dragged her out. (she was very, very large) it was as if someone had removed a cork. We all spilled out onto the floor. Luckily, my wife, a petite 4' 11" had been pushed to the side of the escalator and had been able to hop over the over sized carry-on 'wheelie' that had caused the initial wreck. She was safely on the outside and fearfully watching the mayhem. Once on my feet and finding that I could still walk, I joined her and we quickly moved away from the scene and found my sister and brother in law just a few yards away and oblivious to the wreckage behind us. We told them our tale and on our return to the area not a sign that anything had happened there could be found. Odd?

I still find it hard to believe that no one was injured, seriously, in the mayhem. I know that I was stiff and sore for the next few days but no lasting harm was done.

The large lady and her luggage? Oddly enough, she had been sitting near us in Sacramento and we had watched her earlier as she had slowly pushed her 'carry-on' across the terminal floor. She was unsteady on her feet because of her size and we wondered at the time about her 'carry-on'. Someone had been asleep when she was allowed past the check-in area with that monster. Seriously, someone could have been killed.

On our return to Sacramento we hesitated for only a moment at the top of the long, long escalator that takes you down to baggage claim. And there, over to the right and about 20' away was a bright  and shiny elevator. Empty and waiting just for us. We took it! It was the best ride on the whole trip!

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