'Plane ride home' story

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/06/20 02:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/06/20/430664.aspx

So I was talking to Teresa about her plane ride home.

The flight was fully booked, so they asked for volunteers to take a later flight. And since she did not have to be anywhere that night, Teresa volunteered, along with a few other people and a family of four.

Turns out the flight was over its maximum weight allowance -- they did not say this at the time. So keep in mind that they had not explained this as you read the rest of this post....

The hypothesis was lots of TechEd attendees who were too cheapcost-conscious to ship the 100 pounds of books they had picked up. :-)

So they took the seven volunteers off the plane.

At that point they apparently looked at the weight again and decided they could maybe let some of those people back on. So they tried the family of four, but no, they took them back off. Then they tried some of those others, but they took them off too.

Then they tried Teresa.

Now she is skinny. Really skinny, some people even think too skinny.

Technically she is one of those cost-conscious people I was talking about since she had over 100 pounds of books from TechEd in her checked baggage (lots off publishers were looking at tons of books and practically giving them away to the user group officers to avoid having to ship all the unsold ones back). They probably would have considered taking her bags off if they knew how much the bags weighed.

But if she weighs over 100 pounds then I would be surprised, and they were not taking bags off the plane, they were just talking people (I don't think they realized that between her checked luggage and her carry-on, her bags probably weighed not quite twice as much as she did!).

But even she was too much, so they took her off the plane again. After all of the volunteers were off and the doors were closed, the airline folks told the volunteers why the last-minute on-the-plane/off-the-plane/on-the-plane/off-the-plane dance had taken place.

I think they were probably relieved that they were not on the plane. I'd be nervous to fly on a plane that was one Teresa away from being over the maximum suggested safe weight for their flight across the country!

Teresa was so amused by this that she has told me this story three times now, twice when she called for no other reason than to pretty much tell me this story. I did not interupt because I also thought it was pretty funny.

Though next time they ask for volunteers to take a later flight when we are already on the plane, I think I will take them up on their offer. :-)


This post brought to you by "𠚅" (U+20685, an Extension B CJK ideograph)
And a Unicode code point that would also want to volunteer to get off the plane since it weighs four bytes!

# renee on 20 Jun 2005 1:54 AM:

Hey, pretty funny.

I was one of the six people who didn't get on that plane. *ALL* of us left our baggage on the plane. Teresa should have stuck around instead of playing cross-country boogie on US Air. The hotel was pretty nice and it was good to relax from the harriedness of TechEd without yet plunging back into "Real Life."

# Paul on 20 Jun 2005 1:56 AM:

I more or less had exactly the same thing happen on a flight from Melbourne (Australia, not Florida) to LA. We stopped in Auckland, then on takeoff from Auckland we were taxiing for AGES -- probably twenty minutes -- and eventually the captain comes on and says "Sorry about that, everyone, we were over our maximum takeoff weight and they wouldn't let us go anywhere until we'd brought it down. That little excursion around the runway took off about a ton of fuel, and we're now right to go!"

A few knuckles gripped a few armrests quite a bit more tightly after that.

(The flight was actually late taking off anyway... because when they were loading a crate of cargo into the plane, it had apparently tipped over off the forklift and smashed open on the runway... in the captain's words, "spraying about 400 kilograms of frozen shrimp over the runway" so we'd had to wait for them to clean it up. Not exactly confidence-inspiring stuff)

# Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jun 2005 1:57 AM:

Hi Renee!

Six? I thought she said it was seven left behind!

Glad you made it home okay. I think she freakd out about the "wait until Monday" stuff. Or maybe it was the "must eat at the airport" stuff that bothered her most....

# Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jun 2005 2:09 AM:

Yikes, Paul! They probably should have given people an option to grab the next plane after that announcement.

Sad that they chose to waste a bunch of fuel rather than just doing what this flight to Seattle did. I am sure there are some environmentally conscious people who will be unhappy about that part....


# alanjmcf on 20 Jun 2005 2:08 PM:

Hmm, I thought for security reasons that if the passenger wasn't on the plane then their luggage wasn't allowed on (/to stay on) either.

Which is why they really are so keen to find that last passenger...because they really should unload the crate, find the respective piece(s) of baggage and reload the rest before taking-off.

Maybe things have changed, or this was only in Europe, or...


# Rune Moberg on 20 Jun 2005 2:23 PM:

"I'd be nervous to fly on a plane that was one Teresa away from being over the maximum suggested safe weight for their flight across the country!"

Um, I believe they tend to err on the safe side. Your friend was probably in more danger making her way back to the hotel.

What worries me is that the airport dudes tend to be a tad too safety conscious. Between the airport nazis ("security" my ..., it's all just a show) and the safety regulations, I'm surprised we get any travelling done at all!

Get a grip people, it's just a bus with wings; Nothing special about aircrafts. (except drinks are served :) )

# Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jun 2005 2:32 PM:

Hey alanjmcf -- that is usually how it goes. But her luggage was waiting for her here in Seattle. So they must make exceptions when it is not by passenger design, maybe?

It seems odd to me, too.

# Brooks Moses on 25 Jun 2005 2:42 AM:

Yeah, I'll echo Rune's comment -- "maximum takeoff weight" is a fairly signficant bit lower than the maximum that the engineers think the plane could safely take off with. There's all sorts of safety factors in there, so that a plane that's "one Teresa away from being overweight" is not something that anyone needs to be nervous about. (Nor, for that matter, would it be anything that anyone ought be nervous about if it _was_ one Teresa overweight, but safety requires setting the limit well below what one should be nervous about, and then respecting that limit.)

Incidentally, I'm also fairly sure that the maximum takeoff weight is such that the plane could safely take off with one engine out.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 25 Jun 2005 3:42 AM:

It is probably more of a conceptual concern than anything else, I admit....

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