Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Men With Guns Not the Only Airline Terrorists

Plug it, kid!
Like so many of you, I don't like to fly commercially, especially on the big planes from the big cities. I thoroughly enjoy small planes and tiny destinations, but that is rare for me.

My friend Elise, who lives in Africa, gets to fly home to Roanoke once or twice a year, and often it is a chore. She just landed back in Nairobi (Kenya) yesterday after an excruciating experience that didn't involve even the hint of terrorism, unless you consider kids terrorists (and I often do).

Here's her explanation:

"Sixteen hours on the airplane from Heathrow [London] to Nairobi. Thank heaven for the gift of a business class ticket!

"The BA [British Airways] plane was delayed on the runway at Heathrow because of a 9-year-old boy's uncontrollable tantrum, which included biting, kicking, screaming, spitting, and much more.  The plane had already left the gate and had to be stopped to off load the child and his mother. Somalis, so someone said. 

"We sat and sat and sat while the police came to arrest them. There were buses, and security vans and police cars everywhere around us. Then, the worst part came when the luggage had to be found, identified, counted, etc., while we watched the mother and child wait in a bus beside the plane. 

"This had to be done from a fully loaded airplane that even had a second floor, so you can guess how large it was.  After this a new manifest had to be prepared. There were security men going in and out of the plane the entire time. In total all of this took 2 1/2 hours and then we had to wait for another place in the lineup for takeoff. In short it was the beginning of a nightmare which lasted until I got home at  3 a.m., utterly exhausted and unable to sleep. 

"If this episode had been one with a terrorist rather than a troublesome child on board, can you just imagine what it might have been like? I was fortunate enough to have been seated on the upper deck of this airplane which included about 60 passengers, the crew of two and the captain and his crew.  We were treated with the utmost care and thoughtfulness, but could not use any electronic equipment until after takeoff. 

"When I at last got to Nairobi, the terminals had been changed again and [her ride home] was nowhere to be found. He had gone to the wrong terminal.  JKIA [the airport in Nairobi] is now huge and not only spread out, but still under construction. It took over two hours to find him and start the journey home. 

"I slept from 8 to 2 today and feel like a drunken zombie staggering around the house trying to orient myself to another life."


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