Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

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I Want Off This Plane!

Posted by elainemcooper on April 20, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

“May I have your attention, Ladies and Gentleman? I guess this is one of those flights where everything is going wrong, but we now have a light showing up here in the cockpit. We are turning around and heading back to the airport.”

My heart sank as I put my book down. Nothing had seemed right about this flight from the get go. Since my triplet grandbabies were born, I have accrued many a frequent flyer mile—but I had never experienced a flight like this one.

* * *

At first I didn’t pay too much attention to the extra TSA agents hanging around the gate where our flight was due to depart. Normally you see these agents at Security checkpoint and that’s usually the extent of their presence. But several in uniform seemed to be hugging our gate and making their presence known, long before it was time to board.

I noticed on the screen in the terminal that our flight was going first to Minneapolis—our destination—then on to London. Over the PA system, the agent at the gate called several passengers to present their passports to her. It was noticeable that a few never brought theirs to her, even after repeated requests. A few names called were of middle-eastern origin.

As all the passengers waited to board, the clock was ticking. The employees made repeated announcements about the reasons for the delay but they didn’t make sense. Surely they would have known that the catering trucks needed to be unloaded long before now. Why this explanation? The more they offered reasons for delays in leaving, the more bogus they sounded.

Then came the next alarming announcement overhead: “All passengers must present their photo ID to the TSA agent before boarding.” Now, I have experienced this before. But the scanning of the crowds by the agents was a bit unnerving. I had noticed a few individuals that seemed to stand out in the crowd of passengers as a bit unsettling. But one always hopes that EVERYONE has been thoroughly screened prior to getting to THIS place in the process of flying.

So we all boarded after displaying our photo ID’s. My husband and I were not able to get seats together on this completely filled flight, so I went to my assigned seat alone and paused in surprise. Every single seatbelt was neatly buckled.

What? That never happens! Had they been searching the plane during that delay looking for something and then buckled every belt so other employees would know which seats had been checked? Now I was really starting to feel uncomfortable.

I settled in, determined not to worry.

I’m sure there’s an explanation

Everyone else boarded and sat down. A male passenger suddenly came from the back of the plane, pushing against the flow of the crowd. He was carrying a backpack and rudely forcing his way forward. As he found his way to his seat in the front, I was alarmed as to why he had gone to the back of the plane first. I had noticed him earlier in the terminal, speaking loudly on his cell phone in a foreign language.

What was he doing in the back?

Another announcement overhead: “Maintenance will be coming through to check the lavatories.”

A gloved “maintenance person” came onboard. My husband, who was sitting several rows behind me, told me later that the maintenance person never made it back to the bathroom but turned around near the lavatory and then exited the plane. I’ve been personally searched before flights enough to know that they test gloves for explosives that linger on the nitrile material.

Is that what he was doing? He certainly didn’t use them in the bathroom.

After everyone was seated, the safety instructions were shown on the video monitors.

Then another announcement: “Ladies and gentleman, we have no water on this flight. The crew has had to flush the lines so we will not have water for flushing or hand- washing. We will provide wipes in the lavatory for your use.”

Great. This was a nearly three-hour flight.

I immersed myself in my book, wondering how long I could hold off using the facilities.

Silently praying my usual prayer at takeoff, everything seemed to be going relatively smoothly—until this latest announcement 30 minutes into the flight about the light in the cockpit: “We are returning to the airport.”

I felt an intense urge to pray. Setting my book aside, I closed my eyes and beseeched the Lord for protection for all of us onboard. I had no way of knowing what was going on…but I knew that the Lord did. I earnestly prayed that no matter what evil might be planned, that God would surrounded us with His angels of protection.

We landed safely. Thank God. But looking out the cabin windows, we noticed that we were escorted to the gate by fire trucks.

Oh my.

After the engines of the jet were shut down, I started to get up and gather my things. A few others began to as well.

I want off this plane.

“Please be seated everyone. Our maintenance people will come onboard to check out our door latch.”

We all gasped. The door latch? Were we in danger of the door coming off??

I looked at my fellow seatmates and said, “I am not staying on this plane.”

I sat down, determined to leave this jet, even if they said it was safe to fly.

It’s not safe enough in my opinion. Too much is wrong here.

Then the next announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we need to have everyone disembark and get the cabin re-pressurized.”

Repressurized! “Oh, so we needed oxygen? Is that why my head feels so strange?” I looked at the woman sitting in the seat in front of me. She met my eyes and nodded in agreement.

Get me off this plane.

We all exited while the agents in the terminal said that they would let us know when we could re-board.

Are you serious?

I looked at my husband and said, “I am not getting back on that plane.”

I called the airline number and set up new reservations for my husband and I. We would be flying all night but I didn’t care. I refused to get back on that jet. I could not get the image of the flight attendants’ faces out of my mind as I had disembarked. These normally calm and cool professionals looked as if they’d seen a ghost. That said it all.

They never did let the passengers back onboard, but got a new aircraft for that flight.

By now, several of us had re-booked. My husband and I had dinner at the nice seafood restaurant in the terminal, discussing all of the strange events that we had observed. It was a flight unlike any other that either of us had ever experienced.

But we were safe. And we praised God  that we were free from danger. I had felt surrounded by evil, but God is always greater than the forces of darkness.

And I knew that, no matter the outcome of those circumstances, that God would still be there, in the midst of fear. He is there, even in a world of terror.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NIV)

18 Responses to “I Want Off This Plane!”

  1. joannesher said

    Oh, Elaine. How very, very frightening! I don’t think I breathed until I was done reading. WOW.

    • Yes…BIG WOW. It truly was a unique flight where the “red flags” kept waving more and more. It is truly a God-thing that I felt as calm as I did, and the peace that God was there and that He is greater than evil. Always a comfort. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Joanne.

  2. Wow, Elaine! How scary! SO glad for God’s provision. ~ Tamara

  3. Ohmigoodnessgraciousme! I am so glad you got back okay, Elaine! How frightening! And did they put it on the news? I bet not. I wonder how many things like this happen each year and we
    don’t hear about them. Shivering, yikes!!! God protected you, friend!

    • It likely never made the news, Carrie. Which DOES make you wonder how often these things happen and we never hear about it! Yes, God was faithful. I felt such an INTENSE urge to pray and truly felt His presence. Thanks, my friend.

  4. Aaaagghhhh! I’d want off that plane too! So, so glad you were safe and protected and filled with the peace of the Spirit through it all, Elaine!

    • Amen, Roseanna! It was an EXPERIENCE that I would prefer NOT to go through again, but the Lord was there, regardless of any evil intent. Yes, Praise God for His precious spirit of peace! Thanks for coming by!

  5. What an ordeal, Elaine! Frightful. I hate flying so I can only imagine how unsettling the experience was for you and everyone on that plane. Glad it’s over and you are home safe, protected, and all is well. Whew!

    • Unbelievable ordeal, Lisa. I have had to get used to flying a great deal and the Lord has truly helped me to adjust to that need with peace and reassurance. But I certainly breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when I was back in the terminal once again! Thank you, sweet Lisa!

  6. Jan Loots said

    How incredibly scarey, Elaine. Thank the Lord we have Him to turn to at times like this. I am thanking Him for your safe return too. So glad you shared this. Hugs…..

  7. Rebecca DeMarino said

    What an experience – I held my breath until the end! God was truly with you that day!

  8. Karen Nolan Bell said

    Amazing story! You certainly had my attention to the final word. You may never know what was actually going on but you certainly have the bones for an exciting tale as you add the “what if” to the known. God is awesome. He definitely heard your prayers.

    • Yes, He definitely heard prayers—probably from more than just me! And I’m sure I’ll never know the full story. But as long as God is in control, I will leave that in His hands! Thanks for commenting!

  9. I knew it – good story, and happy safe landing.

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