About 9 or 10 months before I retired from Northwest Airlines I was called to take a flight from Detroit to Ft. Myers, FL. I was an A-320 Captain at the time, and was sitting ‘Alert;’ essentially “on call.” I got to the airport around 7 PM or so and we departed about an hour later.
The flight went fine until we were about an hour from landing. We received notification that the runway lights at Ft. Myers had been cut, and were out. That meant that we couldn’t land at Ft. Myers. Well, fine.
We had a bit of fuel for holding, so we requested to hold just to the West of Tampa. I was always an advocate of letting the passengers know early what was going on, so I told them that we were entering holding to see if the runway lights could be repaired before we would have to divert.
Everything was fine, for about 10 – 15 minutes or so… then the Flight Attendant call bell began ringing:
Ding – “We have a passenger who wants to know if we could divert into Tampa…”
Ding – “We have passenger who wants to know if you thought about diverting into Sarasota…”
Ding – “The guy in seat 3C wants to know if we could go to Orlando…”
After a couples more ‘dings,’ I had finally had enough! I trapped the PA and the announcement net something like this:
“Well Folks, I have received several suggestions with respect to divert options. It is my understanding that the 2 dummies who fly for Northwest took the LA flight tonight. You folks are fortunate to have 2 pilots who actually completed their respective flying courses. And one of the classes actually covers ‘divert options.’
The things we have to consider for diverting are: fuel requirements, weather, gate availability, hotel space (if needed), fuel availability and so forth. In the event we will have to divert, all these factors will come into play. So, while we really appreciate your suggestions, we are on top of it….”
I then hung up, and we went back to telling war stories!
As it turned out that evening we did divert – to Miami. And wouldn’t you know it, on taxi in, we were informed that the runway lights at Ft. Myers were back in service!
So, after a “quick turn,” we were airborne once again and finally made it to Ft. Myers about midnight.
Once we got the airplane ‘put to bed,’ we went out front to catch the hotel van. At that time of the night, they only had one van running, and a family from our flight took it! No room for the crew, so we had to wait about another 45 minutes for the van to return – then another 20 minutes to the hotel.
It was always the “glamor” that kept me flying! That, and the crew meals! LOL…