After a restless night of tossing and turning and wondering if I had remembered everything, Jason and I awoke at 5 a.m., shoved a few last minute items in our bags, and were leaving Woodward by 6:00 a.m. It was a great drive to Tulsa (mainly because I slept while Jason drove). We were pleasantly surprised to find that Tulsa airport was clean, not crowded, and a relaxed environment. We cleared check-in and security at a leisurely pace and commented several times on how much we enjoyed that particular airport. I had a few gripes about American (where you now get NO free luggage, but have to pay $15 for the first bag and $25 for the second), but all in all, it had been a relaxed and easy trip to that point. We even ran into an old friend in the airport and had a nice chat with her.
The first flight was eventless, though I did note that while pop was still complementary, no free peanuts or pretzels were offered. American was losing points with me by the moment. We landed in Dallas, got a bite to eat, then boarded our next flight.
Once aboard flight 484, we sat at the gate for an absurdly long amount of time before the captain came on the intercom and announced that one of the craft’s lights was broken and would need to be replaced. He explained that it was not a complicated repair, but was an involved one. He estimated that the repair would take twenty minutes. After twenty minutes it was announced that the mechanics were now there to fix the issue. Twenty minutes after that we were notified that while the repair was complete, the appropriate paperwork now had to be filed before we could take-off. The passengers of the flight breathed a collective sigh of relief when we finally pulled out of the gate and onto the runway. Our flight was now about 50 minutes delayed, but since we weren’t making any connecting flight, our cruise didn’t leave until the next afternoon, and we had no children with us to entertain, J and I were just going with the flow. It was smooth “sailing” for an hour or so until they stopped the in-flight movie and the captain made another announcement. “Blah, blah, blahbedy blah, don’t panic, blah, emergency landing in Tampa. Return to your seats and put your seatbelts on.” WHAT??? What did he say? Jason (who was actually listening at the beginning translated for me). Apparently an indicator light was on and according to FAA regulations we were required to make an emergency landing. I had a split second or so of relief…and then we started rapidly descending. We started REALLY rapidly descending. J and I started praying. It was a little bit intense. Once we were below the clouds and closer to the ground I felt a little better, though…until we approached the runway and saw police cars, ambulances, and firetrucks with lights on waiting for us. I looked at Jason, “Those are for us.” I can’t remember if he replied because then we were touching down and all of those emergency vehicles were rushing towards us as we lurched to a halt in the middle of the runway.
The captain came back on and announced that we’d had a fuel leak from the left engine and we’d have to sit on the runway while the emergency crew and repair crew handled the situation, we could not approach the airport while leaking fuel. “Because we don’t want to blow up the whole airport,” Jason and I finished that thought. Great. And I had felt relieved that we were on the ground! Eventually one of the flight crew came back on and told us that we were going to pull into the airport, but that we should stay on the plane unless we decided that we would not continue that flight. I have to admit, that had definitely crossed my mind. In fact, at one point during our oh-so-rapid descent, I looked at J and told him that if they were just going to repair this plane and put us right back on it I’d rather rent a car and drive to Miami. I think about a quarter of the passengers disembarked eventually. We were not among them. After an hour and a half on the ground fixing the issue, re-checking the plane, re-issuing the flight plan, and filing an incident report, we were back in the air. After a smooth 38 minute flight we arrived safely in Miami! Thank you, Lord!