Sometimes it’s okay to use the seat in front of you

Monday I flew to New York’s JFK airport. Before we took off the pilot told us that we needed to leave as quickly as possible to make sure we got a slot at landing. Evidently the snow that swept the city that day was wreaking havoc on the runways. Our flight went very smoothly, and in fact we were ahead of schedule when the dreaded announcements started.

“Folks, we’re about 100 miles away from New York, and they’ve got us in a holding pattern. We will circle for about 20-25 minutes and then we’ll hopefully have an update.”

“Folks, it turns out that they are having to plow the runways at JFK after every two planes that land. We’re going to circle another 25-30 minutes, and at that point we’ll be out of fuel so we’ll either land of be diverted to DC.”landing 1


Then about twenty minutes later we feel the plan take a hard right and start to descend.

“Folks, they’re sending us to Philadelphia so we can refuel, then we’ll get to JFK after that.”

Nooooo! I send a quick email to my sister, who I am staying with in New York, letting her know that I have no idea when I’m getting in but it will likely be hours from now. I was super bummed because while I was going to New York for work, I was planning to spend Monday afternoon with my sister and niece.

Then the pilot gets on one more time and says, “Flight attendants, please prepare for landing. Folks, good news. They found a spot for us at JFK.”

Hooray! We all prepare for landing, putting away our stuff and buckling up. As we get close to the ground I looked out the window, but all I saw was white. Finally when we were just a minute from landing I can see snow and ice covering the ground. When we landed, it felt like the pilot slammed on the brakes, then we lost traction and skidded, then slammed on the brakes, skidded again…landing 2 We were all thrown forward in our seats and everyone I could see was bracing themselves on the seat in front of them. While normally I would say this was a no-no, no one could feel  anyone pushing on the back of their seat because, hey, we were all leaning forward!

Eventually we slow down, taxiing for a while before we stop and wait. And wait, and wait. The snow had gotten so bad that we had to wait close to an hour for the taxi way to get plowed. At that point, though, we really didn’t care. Seriously, that was the scariest landing I’ve ever been through. But I still managed to get to my sister’s by a reasonable time, and we had a great evening visiting and playing with my niece.

Readers, what was the scariest landing you’ve ever experienced?


  1. Yikes! That sounds so scary, especially with ice! My scariest landing was in Omaha in a raging thunderstorm. They almost diverted us to Kansas City, and the flight had already taken an hour longer due to rerouting to avoid the storms in the original flight plan. Every time we started to land, the wind would gust around the plane and the pilot would pull up hard and we would circle the city more. It happened multiple times until the pilot decided to just go for it and managed to land with a hard foot on the brakes (one of the only times I’ve felt a place speed up significantly as we landed). Everyone clapped when we came to a stop, my mom threw up, all was well 🙂

  2. Wow that is scary! I flew out of DTW last week and they didn’t de ice even though it was -9 degrees out.

    My scariest landing ever was in Memphis. The landing gear was down and we were really close to the ground when the pilot pulled the plane up and punched the gas. We shot back into the sky! He waited awhile before coming on to apologize about the plane stuck on our runway and that he had to quickly shoot us back into the sky or we would have hit them. Was a crazy sensation and gave me that crazy woozy feeling in my stomach. We circled back and landed. I barely made my connection but was glad we didn’t hit the other plane!

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