This past Friday I flew to San Diego to present Cynthia Brouk, Director Food and Nutrition Services at GVMH, an award for leading her team from a starting point of the bottom ten percent nationally in patient satisfaction to the top ten percent over the past couple of years. Cynthia and her team have worked hard and done a lot of amazing things to improve their services and I was thrilled to be able to present her award in front of more than 300 of her peers. This was a huge accomplishment and it deserves a lot of recognition. I plan to devote a full blog to the topic but I’m waiting for pictures from the event because, as you know, a picture is worth a thousand words and I’m sure you don’t want to read that much of my writing.
I flew out Friday and flew home Saturday. I had a direct flight each way and the travel was scheduled to be as easy as possible. The trip out was uneventful except for the fact that I had LASIK surgery on Thursday before I left and my vision hasn’t returned to normal and I’ve got to use eye drops every 10 minutes because of a complication but I wasn’t flying the plane and I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel so I didn’t need to read street signs.
Coming home was when things got interesting. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning, remember I was on the west coast so it was 6:00 a.m. here, turned on the news and saw that a Southwest Airlines 737 had to make an emergency landing because a whole blew open in the roof of the plane mid-flight. It just so happens I was scheduled to fly home on a Southwest Airlines 737 at 9:10 a.m. I went to the hotel gym, cleaned up, grabbed some breakfast and left for the airport a little early because the news was reporting that Southwest had grounded 15% of its fleet until the planes could be inspected. This should have been my first clue that the day might not go as planned.
When I arrived at the airport I checked in and went through security and checked the monitor only to find, to my amazement that my flight was still scheduled to be on-time. At 8:30 a.m. the monitor in the terminal was updated to show that my flight had been delayed to 10:00 a.m. but the clerk in the terminal assured me that it would not be cancelled.
Usually when I have a little down time in an airport I get out my Blackberry and respond to emails but because of my recent eye surgery it was impossible to read anything on the 2 inch screen. My vision was clear enough to see that there appeared to be something out-of-place on the jet way just outside my terminal. Remember when I said “a picture is worth a thousand words”, well here’s what I saw:
Let me tell you, when you see this at an airport, your mind begins to wander. I got up to walk around the terminal and noticed that the long lines I went through at security were gone and when I asked what was going on one of the terminal attendants said “security has been shut down”. This is when your mind begins to wander a little more.
I later found out that there had a been a “small” fire in one of the fast food restaurants and security had to be evacuated. I asked myself when, since I was only sitting 40 feet from security, it would have been necessary to evacuate the people beyond security…
After the smoke cleared, literally, the flight was updated and a delayed take-off of 11:30 was announced. Well 11:30 came and went but we did finally take off at 12:00.
The flight was uneventful and I kept telling myself that Southwest had probably never been safer to fly because of all the public scrutiny and I had convinced myself of that until I watched the news Monday morning and heard this; “small cracks were found in three other planes”.
I wonder if one of those three planes flew from San Diego to Kansas City last Saturday?