High Alert on the Unfriendly Skies

“Every occasion in life is either a good time or a good story.” – Unknown

Although I had a blast this summer in Kauai, I have to say my best adventure tale stems from my belief in the quote above. Enjoy as I unveil the details of my return flight to Fort Lauderdale. It was not a good time, but certainly a good story.

Heidi_Siefkas_Unfriendly_SkiesAfter takeoff, I quickly drifted off. An hour later, I was abruptly awakened by a confrontation between a female passenger and a female flight attendant behind me. Although I had noticed her, the three boys, and her aging mother as they boarded, I thought her being disheveled was all due to holding together a multi-generational trip. Apparently, she (Winnie Wino or WW) had mixed a little too much booze and who knows what else to prompt what happened.

After assaulting one of the flight attendants by pushing her into the aisle, the head flight attendant pulled out of her pocket a heavy-duty set of zip ties to restrain WW in her seat. The sight of the zip tie cuffs threw WW into a frenzied fight, kicking more, flailing her arms wildly, and screaming almost animal-like. Two men seated behind WW immediately stood up, both close to two hundred pounds and beefy like body builders. They forcibly held WW’s arms down as the head flight attendant secured the cuffs.

After that in-flight entertainment, I turned back around feeling that the problem at hand was solved. However, that was wishful thinking. Although WW was restrained, she wailed in pain or shouted accusations at her boys and mother for the remainder of the flight. WW had endurance. She continued for nearly five more hours. This obviously wasn’t her first fight.

In passing, I overheard that the captain had decided to continue to Phoenix instead of making an emergency landing in Los Angeles to allow the authorities to arrest WW. I was thankful for not adding any more hiccups to my already inconvenient, lengthy, and eventful journey home. However, upon landing, our experience was not over. The police boarded the plane and took WW in official cuffs with her mother and three sons trailing. Then, another crew of officials boarded the plane asking for witnesses. Nearly twenty minutes after landing, I grabbed my things and deplaned, rushing to my connection.

Fortunately, I was able to make my second flight, sleep on it, and even begin to proof my first draft of Cubicle to Cuba. The third and final leg was uneventful as well.

That flight back from Hawaii certainly shifted my perspective. I was grateful to get back to the “normal” craziness of airports and flying the unfriendly skies. Bring on the cramped seats, no snacks, and carry-on fees! At least, there was no Winnie Wino on my other flights.

As a seasoned traveler, I never leave home without my iPhone, peanuts, and a sarong. Since this eventful flight, I have added zip ties to my list.

What was your worst travel experience or eventful flight?

Here’s to looking up!


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