Sunday, 7 July 2013

A Traveler's Worst Nightmare

So today I missed a plane crash by fifteen minutes.

Yikes is all I can say.

I was at (well, near) San Francisco airport this morning, dropping off Mustang Sally -  which was a whole other source of sadness, but it pales in great comparison to what happened only fifteen minutes later, about a quarter of a mile away.

You may or may not have seen the news reports - needless to say it's been big news here in San Francisco - but to quickly rehash, a 777 from Shanghai crash-landed on the runway at SFO. Two people died, more than a hundred people were injured. You can read more about it here. The wreckage looks terrifying. Amazingly, more than a hundred people walked away with very minor injuries, so there is at least some comfort there.

I was blissfully unaware, on a car-ride to Point Reyes with my friends, Nancy and Andreas. It wasn't until we stopped for lunch an hour away that we saw the news. Horrifying. And the fact that we were so close by - well, it hits home just a little harder, that "There but for the grace of God" feeling. I've had a pit in my stomach all day - I can't stop thinking about it - what it must have felt like to be on board. And particularly since I'm going to be spending 42 hours on planes in the next 4 weeks, it's not what I want to be thinking about right now. I know all the statistics, and I understand what a rare occurrence a plane crash is - but I'm rattled all the same. I'd like to have some kind of philosophical viewpoint about it, but I can't look at it in any other way right now. And I'm too absorbed by the practical details of my next flight to give it any other context.

As for my next flight, I'm supposed to leave SFO in 36 hours. I'm on hold with United as we speak, trying to figure out if I should re-route and fly out of LAX instead, which will mean renting another car and driving to LA tomorrow, instead of exploring San Fran. They've already re-opened two runways here at SFO, which is pretty amazing, given that the airport was closed for hours this afternoon, and more than 300 flights were canceled. You can only imagine the chaos in the airport, as travelers try to rebook flights and figure out alternate plans. I'm very lucky that I don't leave until Monday.

If I leave on Monday. That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, could you, would you, please send some good thoughts and healing vibes to the folks who were injured? It's flakey, but at least it's something.

UPDATE: Fortunately I made it on to my Monday flight, and everything went as per usual. Truly amazing how fast they can get an entire airport up and running again after a major disaster. And aside from the countless news trucks parked out front, everything was completely normal.


  1. Lots of happy thought and well wishes for your journey, Marliss!