JetBlue Flight 292 (Part 3, Conclusion)

“Brace!  Brace!  Brace!…”

The front landing gear touched the ground and the plane began to shake.  We were still going so fast, and the temperature in the cabin of the plane was rising.

And then, we stopped.

I have never heard such sincere and grateful applause.  We had landed.  The plane had not split in half, and we were not spinning out of control.  We were alive.

My phone rang.  I looked at the caller ID.  It was my friend Allison’s boyfriend, Kip.  Allison and Devin were roommates, so she knew that we had missed our morning flight, gotten drunk, fought in the airport, and were taking a later flight.  About an hour after she told Kip this information, he was watching TV and the news broke showing live footage of a JFK bound flight about to attempt a very dangerous landing at LAX with a broken nose wheel.  He had been attempting to call me.

I answered the phone.  “Hello,” I said.  My voice was shaky.

“Are you and Devin on that plane?!” he asked frantically.

“Yes, yes we’re on the plane,” I told him.

“Holy shit!  I just knew you were on that flight!” he exclaimed.

“Kip, I’m not gonna lie, I cried like a little bitch,” I admitted.  He laughed.  “I should go.  I want to call my mom,” I said.

We hung up and I called her.  She answered quickly.  “Mom, I’m okay,” I blurted out.

“You were on that plane?  I can’t believe you were on that plane,” she said.

“I was but I’m okay.  I have to go.  I’ll call you back soon,” I assured her before ending the call.  We hung up.

Suddenly, I realized how hot the cabin of the plane really was.  It reminded me of opening the oven while food is cooking and having that initial blast of heat rise out and smack you in the face.  (Later, I would see the video of our landing and understand that it was so hot because the rubber on the front tire had worn down to the metal, creating sparks followed by a small fire below us.)

The flight crew opened the main cabin door.  “Everyone off the plane!” a flight attendant instructed.  There was intensity in the way she said it.  Passengers enthusiastically did as she instructed.

On my way up the aisle I spotted the carry on bag containing my mother’s and grandmother’s rings still underneath my original seat.  I grabbed it.

When I reached the exit, the flight crew was standing by the cockpit to bid the passengers farewell, just as they normally would.  But needless to say, it was different.  When the people deplaning flight 292 passed the pilot, we thanked him for saving our lives.

Emerging from the plane was surreal.  Stairs from the exit door led down to the tarmac.  Emergency crews hurried us into standing-room-only trucks while news vans and reporters captured every dramatic moment.

When we disembarked the vehicles, the Red Cross was waiting with vans of food.  Inside of the airport, we ended up in a private baggage claim area.  There were boxes of McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  “This is better than Katrina,” Devin commented.

We waited.  People representing JetBlue were extremely kind.  They stressed that we didn’t have to talk to reporters if we didn’t want to.  The told us that we would be refunded whatever we paid for flight 292, and we would also be given vouchers for free flights.  They assured us that once we got our luggage, JetBlue would arrange for us to get back to New York however we wanted – an immediate flight, a rental car, or a train.  They also offered hotel rooms and transportation to anyone not wanting to travel right away.

Devin and I decided to take the flight back to New York that night.  Our luggage took a few hours to find its way off of flight 292.  In the meantime, I talked to a reporter from The Washington Post (she practically mauled me on my way to the restroom), we waved hello to Sally, and Devin ate enough cheeseburgers to make himself sick.

The flight back didn’t leave until about 9 p.m.  JetBlue had a private plane fly back any passengers of flight 292 who chose to take it, which wasn’t many.  Aboard the plane, everyone had their own three-seat row.  Devin and I lied down on rows across from each other.

A JetBlue representative boarded the plane and addressed the passengers.  He reiterated that we would be refunded and receive free flight vouchers.  He told us that our current flight would be catered and include unlimited free movies and alcoholic beverages.  He said that there would be reporters waiting for us at JFK, and that we didn’t need to talk to them.  We were assured that JetBlue representatives would be awaiting our arrival to make sure that we received cab fare or money to pay for any parking fees incurred at the New York airport.  Basically, JetBlue was willing to give us anything that was in its power to give.

Flight attendants came through with pillows and blankets.  Devin and I both took three of each.  He slept while I took advantage of the movies and booze.  As I watched Mr. & Mrs. Smith on the headrest television, I remembered what I was watching on the same kind of screen just hours earlier.

“Would you like some more wine?” a flight attendant asked me.

I looked at my cup.  It was still half full.  “I’m not even done with-”

“That’s okay, take another.  Take two,” she said with a smile while handing me two little bottles of red wine.

Because of the time change, we didn’t land at JFK until about 7 a.m.  We got our luggage.

“Where do you live and how are you getting there?’ a JetBlue representative asked us.

“Brooklyn.  And I guess a cab?” Devin suggested.

The man handed Devin a wad of cash.  “Is that enough?” he questioned.  It was more than enough.

Forty minutes later, I walked in my front door.  It felt good to be home.

JetBlue1JetBlue22

JetBlueletter

The end.  (Finally.)

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.

Tags:

3 Responses to “JetBlue Flight 292 (Part 3, Conclusion)”

  1. Teejay Says:

    Holy shit. I remember watching this. I know we’ve only met face to face the once at the consu thing in ny, but I’m glad you’re ok. You were very nice that night and seem cool on the various internetty things we’re both a part of. And again, holy shit.

  2. jen Says:

    what did you learn from this? i want a part 4. this is my favorite story. give me more.

  3. Kevin Galligan Says:

    I think I would have taken the rental car. Nobody is going to question a slow cross country trip after that.

Leave a Reply