Chicago: After security, the "rest" is too easy
I got to O'Hare early for my 8 a.m. flight. Too early. The night before, I'd stayed up extremely late with college buddies. After sleeping for a few hours, I rolled out of bed and into a taxi. Traffic was nonexistent. Security was a breeze. I got to my gate with plenty of time to spare.
Next thing I knew, I woke from a deep slumber. The gate was deserted, and it was well past 10 a.m. I had to rebook for a flight that afternoon. Moral of the story: Don't breathe easy just because you've made it to the gate. Save that deep relaxation for the plane. - Eric Peterson
Pakistan: Sometimes, it's out of your control
Our captain was clearly agitated as our Pan Am Boeing 747 landed in Karachi. It was 1979, though before 9/11, terrorist fears were still very real. Then, they were geographical and situational, depending on the day's headlines. Unfortunately, this day an alleged Pakistani terrorist cell had hinted at action against an American airliner.
Looking out from my seat, I saw 20 jeeps surrounding our jetliner. The military forces boarded the aircraft. Once inside they commanded us to present our passports and leave the plane immediately. The 110-degree heat and high humidity added to the nervous discomfort. Standing under this behemoth airplane, we sensed the urgency of the operation.
In the next hour, soldiers and dogs searched our luggage, apparently looking for a bomb, which they never found. After the "all clear," we climbed the stairs past other soldiers, who meticulously examined our documents. But how could we be sure we were safe? The tension during the flight was thick. Luckily, we made it to Mumbai without incident. While deplaning, the captain offered this thought: "I can only control so much. I live with the fear that someday, something big is going to happen." - Mandaar Gokhale, M.D.
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