Recently I was on a flight that tried to land in heavy Dallas fog twice, the second attempt within 100 yards of the ground, then abruptly aborting due to minimal visibility. An exuberant redheaded flight attendant provided what limited information she had available and a calm pilot reassured us the aircraft was sound, but the weather conditions were untenable for landing. A collective sigh of disappointment arose as the announcement came we were being diverted to another airport.
The full plane of early-morning passengers transformed from a sleepy bunch of travelers into nervous camaraderie as conversations erupted throughout the plane, speculations about deboarding and re-routing sprinkled throughout spirited dialogue. Perhaps the happiest person was a woman two rows back that cheerfully announced this unplanned stop was her home destination and she was getting off as soon as the doorway was clear.😊 Amidst the grumbles of frustration about the delay and forced change of flight times causing a ripple effect of inconvenience, there were also spontaneous plans to grab some Texas BBQ if everyone had to deplane.
It’s in these tricky situations that one can see the range of human emotions and observe a wide range of attitude on display. Mothers patiently tended to children, providing distraction and encouragement. Level-headed flight attendants offered additional support to some elderly passengers.
Some people bailed immediately, asserting they would not get back on the same aircraft. Others made complaints aloud and responded grumpily after each delay update, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
A 15-minute delay bloomed into a 2 1/2 hour wait. People plugged into their devices, shifting from brief anxiety to resigned waiting.
Although there was a wide variety of individual responses, it seemed like we had developed some group solidarity in our waiting. More eye contact was made and conversations were deeper within the boarding area than usual because we had a shared experience of landing someplace unexpected. None of us planned to be in this particular spot, but we were pulled together by this disruption in our schedules.
Then relief pushed through the boarding area as our flight was called to board. For real this time. Reboarding was surprisingly upbeat as if we were reuniting with friends rather than the strangers we all had been just a few hours ago. Our numbers had diminished yet our remaining subgroup seemed undaunted in the collective hope that our flight would make it this time.
After 45 minutes, we disembarked from the same plane again and started another round of problem-solving…and more people-watching in the process.
We all encounter delays at one time or another. We each get diverted from our original plans. All of us receive unwanted news that changes our course. It may be relocating for a job, dealing with a medical crisis, or experiencing the loss of a loved one.
How we face these challenges is a reflection of our personality and character. And, oh, how one person’s demeanor can impact the rest! We saw both positive and negative extremes of this during our 8-hour flight delay.
The perspective we choose to cling to can make a huge difference when we are re-routed unexpectedly in life. Waiting for clarity requires tenacity. Seeking guidance from those in our trusted watch tower requires humility. Sitting amidst uncertainty requires patience and perseverance.