We did. But shortly after our 5:15 flight left the jetway, the storms started in Chicago. So we sat on the runway. It wasn’t until I heard the landing gear come out near O’Hare that I found the courage to count the total time Hanni and I had been on board. Nine hours.
The pilot gave us periodic updates on the storm while we waited. He welcomed us to listen to the air traffic controllers on our headsets. As awful as it all was, just sitting there, waiting, I must say: in a very odd way, the ordeal was uplifting, too. The passengers, and the crew, and the pilots, were all good people. No one got belligerent. No one broke into the liquor. No one squatted in the aisle to defecate in protest.
Now, Hanni might have wanted to squat in the aisle, but she held it in. Until 9:15, that is. That’s when the pilot announced that all flights in and out of O’Hare had been grounded. We went back to the jetway.
Our flight still wasn’t cancelled, the pilot told us. “Feel free to get off the plane to stretch your legs,” he announced over the loudspeaker. “But don’t go too far from the gate.”
I ignored that warning. We couldn’t stay close. Hanni had to go outside! My wonderful, loyal, brave and patient Seeing Eye dog held her own while phone calls were made to determine whether the security gate was already closed, could Hanni and I get back to our flight if we left the airport for a bit, what are FAA regulations on this, blah, blah, blah. A very kind Logan employee finally came to our rescue, accompanying Hanni and me outside the security area. Once outside, we took three quick steps to the right, and…relief! Right there on the cement sidewalk.
Hanni was much lighter on her feet when we went through security that second time. She and I were back to the gate in plenty of time to board again, the plane pulled away from the jetway, and there we sat. For two-and-a-half more hours.
By this time, the passengers were all getting to know each other. Prohibited from talking endlessly into handheld phones, or pounding away on laptop keyboards, or engaging our thumbs in text messaging, well, we entertained ourselves the old-fashioned way. Talking. To each other. Imagine. Conversations. With real people. Like I say, it was downright uplifting.
Many commented on Hanni’s stellar behavior. Eventually I had Hanni lead me to the back of the plane. I took off her harness then and encouraged anyone who wanted to pet her to come on back. I think it helped all concerned. Maybe after Hanni retires from her current job she can volunteer as an airplane therapy dog.