Our flight home from Manila had two aborted landings before being diverted to a neighboring island.
It didn’t help that my seat mate kept on praying audibly; alternately clasping her hands in prayer or putting her hand to her heart. When she lifted both her hands to beseech a higher power, that’s when I decided I was going to transfer seats. Good thing the row of seats across was empty.
I wasn’t scared or anything but her demeanor affected me. I don’t know if she was afraid but whatever she was feeling was palpable and it was not positive and it was very disturbing.
It was a very bumpy descent. I was hoping the clouds would clear but the landing gear was down and still I could not see the ground. I had never been in a flight with an aborted landing so I did not expect one. I did worry if we would land. 15 minutes after the gears came down and we still had not landed, I knew something was wrong. The pilot comes on and announces that we had aborted a landing due to bad weather. We were going for another try. It was very bumpy and I was starting to feel nauseous. O, me and eldest son were seated separately.
If we were going to crash, I would be away from them. I looked at the back of O’s head. I turned to the row behind me to look at eldest son. Oh well, if it’s our time, it’s our time. I settled back in my seat and tried to ignore my praying seat mate. A thought did occur to me that dying would not be so bad but this air turbulence was bad. And there was no discomfort bag in my seat pocket. I quickly rummaged through my bag for anything that I could puke in. That’s the thing I don’t like. You’re going to crash and you have to go through this nauseating feeling. Yuck.
The second try was not going well. The clouds were still thick even as I heard the landing gears deploy a second time. Down, down we went. Still no sight of the ground. Suddenly I felt the nose of the plane go up. Aah, the plane was climbing. Another aborted landing.
I was thinking we were probably going to land in another airport. I wondered which city. I wondered if the airline would give us free hotel stays. I debated whether to take the bus home or take another flight from the diverted landing.
Then the pilot comes on again to announce the second aborted landing due to very bad weather and that we would be diverted to Cebu City (a city 20minutes away by plane from home). As we climbed up to cruising speed, I could see the clouds disappearing. I took the opportunity to transfer. I felt so much better away from my seat mate.
As we landed in clear Cebu, the atmosphere surprisingly was not one of panic. The pilot announces that we would be refueling before going back home when the weather clears. I thought they would let us deplane, but no, we stayed onboard. Everyone started to get up to use the bathroom. Once that was out of the way, the atmosphere was quite lively. Most everyone was joking. Strangers started to talk to each other. Well except for the praying seat mate. I did not attempt to talk to her and she didn’t attempt to engage other people in conversation.
Water was passed around – certainly helped the mood. 4 people requested to deplane and not continue on to our original destination. They were accommodated. There were good natured jokes about them wanting to visit the casino in Cebu City.
After 30minutes or so, the plane was done with refueling and we were back on the air. This time around, the landing was good. Visibility 8km. I could clearly see the ground. I knew we would be landing soon.
That was a very interesting flight. There was actually no panic on my part. In fact, I was quite ready to go while we were on a roller coaster ride during our descent but I guess it’s not my time.
I am glad that our pilot had our safety in mind when he decided to abort the landing. Other passengers were telling the story of how another airline had 3 aborted landings before landing on the 4th try. Some were applauding the fact that the pilot of the other airline was very gung-ho but hearing them compare the two airlines, I am glad I am with the airline I chose. I would rather the hassle of a delay when our safety is on the table than putting lives at risk just to keep a schedule.