We left Sacramento a few minutes late on United (fly the friendly skies), at 1:52pm, and were informed that our flight would be 3 hours and 28 minutes to touch-down in Chicago. Somewhere just west of Souix Falls, South Dakota, we were informed that there was some “weather” near Chicago, and that we would soon have to keep in our seats — which meant turbulence for a long time. And that was just the start.
It is 4:10am and we just got in the home! Indeed we ran into some weather not far from South Dakota, so much that we had to land in Madison because the storms were too intense around O’Hare. We waited 1.5 hours for fueling and for a “minor repair” (don’t you just love ambiguity like that?). Then we took off, flying low of course, and were bumping along when we took a sharp turn left and a few minutes later were told we’d have to go to Milwaukee because the weather radar was broken and that the pilot (who maintained his cool and his professionalism the whole way) couldn’t fly through storms without that radar.
A pilot for UPS was next to me and he explained it all, including convection turbulence.
So we bumped over to Milwaukee, landed rather abruptly in a rain storm, and then sat on the tarmac for nothing short of 3 hours — with occasional up dates and a full running of some movie (The Stone Family). Lots of chat, lots of comments, and one boarding of the plane by four armed policeman who interviewed a man who had made some unwise comments, and before long he and his wife and two boys were escorted away — to the jeers of some that this might be the only way off the plane! What happened is that United doesn’t have gates at Milwaukee and no gate was open so we had to sit there until some labor people and some airline people could come to terms with what could and couldn’t be done.
And what was done was that they let us get off the plane in the pouring rain down some stairs, board a bus, and then the bus took us to the terminal where we waited another hour or so to get our bags, and then a bus drove us to O’Hare — and then we got in our car and drove home.
About 8 and half hours late. But none the worse for our time, but with the a long day ahead of us.