1. The flooding? We flew out of Houston just a day before the rains hit, and fear that our 2 year old would not have been joyously screaming “Blast Off!” had we been stuck on the runway for hours on end.

  2. Ergh. It wasn’t so much the flooding as it was the lightning, and the 70-knot microburst measured right off the runway.

    The story: we’d had a slightly hairy journey already — a three-hour ride from ONT to IAH on an ERJ (which I insist Continental must rename, as SoCal and Houston are NOT in the same region), followed by an aborted landing (due to a complete and total inability to see the runway from about a quarter-mile out), followed by a long, long circling process, followed by an actual landing, followed by the discovery that R.’s gate-checked bag had either lost or never been given a proper gate check tag, so that the gate folks couldn’t give it to us. Such bags have to go downstairs to baggage services, where we were told we could claim it. When we pled our connection, which was departing in 20 minutes, and showed them the stub for the non-existent tag, the bag guys looked over each shoulder and then slid it to us, telling us to make sure the bag got properly tagged next time.

    So we were feeling all self-congratulatory on having managed that hurdle as we made our way to the gate for our next flight. We got there to find that the plane had just arrived, and was de-boarding its previous load of passengers pretty much right at our boarding time. So, we figured, we’ll be a few minutes late, but Continental always builds a little cushion into its flight times, so I thought we’d actually get to BTR roughly on time. So I didn’t bother calling my mother, who was picking us up at the airport.

    We loaded up, fast fast fast, got cleared to go, and taxied out to the runway, much less quickly. There were a bunch of planes ahead of us, but finally (after the first 30 minutes or so) the pilot announced that we were number one for takeoff, and would the flight attendant please be seated. And then we taxied a little bit more. And then a little bit more. And then there was a little more taxiing. And then we stopped.

    About twenty minutes later — bear in mind that this is a 45 minute flight, so technically we should be there by now — the pilot comes on again and says “well, folks, we were number one for takeoff, but then we had a little mechanical malfunction, so we had to pull over and fix it. Which we did. But now there’s a storm coming — you can see it off to the left side of the aircraft — and so ground control has put a hold on us until they figure out what they’re going to do.” And our safety is their number-one concern, blah blah blah. But he keeps the seatbelt light on, and the engines running, as we’re going to go any minute, and he doesn’t say we can use cell phones.

    About ten minutes later, we hear the engines shut down. This is when the pilot comes on and says “well, folks, it sounds like ground control made the right decision in not letting us take off, as they’ve measured a 70-knot microburst right off the runway. They’ve closed down the airport, so we’re shutting down the engines to save fuel.” And now he lets us get up and use cell phones and all that. I called my mother, who answered the phone by saying “have you arrived?” I told her that we hadn’t even departed yet, and that we had no idea when we would, and so she should go home.

    An hour later, they started the engines back up and began taxiing again. Half an hour after that, we finally took off. Forty-five minutes later, we landed in BTR. Things could have been much worse — we could have had a two year old with us! — but it was exhausting nonetheless.

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