Last Friday as the afternoon unfolded and we set our sights on the weekend, a story about an American Airlines flight cropped up on news outlets everywhere. A plane had been grounded at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport following an incident that sent two flight attendants to the hospital, and led to the arrest of one as well.
I happened to be on that plane.
Since that day, the media have cobbled together the details of what transpired so I won't rehash much here. In short, a flight attendant took over of the PA system as we taxied toward the runway, warning passengers that we were going to crash, babbling about American Airlines' bankruptcy, and instigating chaos and confusion. She was eventually removed from the plane after being restrained by several passengers.
For my own narration of the events you can read my personal blog, but what made the situation particularly frightening was the lack of communication from the pilot. We later learned that he could not hear the PA system, but his unresponsiveness to the flight attendant's pleas led us to believe he was hijacking the plane.
In retrospect, we now know that we weren't in immediate danger—the problem was the flight attendant alone—but for a brief time, my husband and I were in survival mode. We faced the possibility of an emergency exit from the plane, and we considered what might happen if the plane took off. We feared serious injury or even death. I feared for the baby growing inside me. I feared for my family if something terrible happened to me.
All of those thoughts raced through our minds as we responded to the crisis before us. The phrase "gripped with fear" could not have been more appropriate. I felt suffocated by terror as I tried to compose my thoughts ...1
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