I’m currently delayed on a runway to Atlanta. My flight was originally scheduled for a 4:15 departure. We pulled away from the gate shortly after 5:00, and it’s now 6:30. Our delay is so long that we’ve pulled off to a side area while we wait for Chicago to reopen before departing, and the seat belt sign is off. As pacification, we’re also allowed to use electronics.
A good number of folks are working on laptop computers, which is a common enough sight these days. However, wireless WAN access is getting common enough that a notable number of passengers have Internet access. (Obviously, I include myself in that statement, since I’m writing this entry through my GPRS uplink.)
One passenger two rows ahead of me called a meteorologist in Chicago and found out that there was nothing much serious at the airport, and began to question the flight crew about it. They dismissed the passenger’s “I’m on the phone with a weatherman in Chicago…” statement as an unsupported assertion.
Rising to the implied challenge, a second passenger went to AccuWeather’s O’Hare radar map and pulled up the radar map of the area around Chicago, which didn’t show much. For good measure, he also pulled up the North Central regional radar map, which showed storms in Milwaukee and Cleveland, but again, nothing much in Chicago. Nonetheless, I find it amusing that air travelers now have sufficient access to information that they can’t be kept totally in the dark. The mantra of “Trust, but verify” has come to my flight out on a lonely corner of Atlanta’s tarmac.
(As an unrelated note, at times like these, I curse airlines that don’t provide laptop power in the plane, since I’m now running through my second battery of the delay, and once it drain’s, I’ll be out of juice.)