Monday, October 22, 2012

What do those red lights mean?

A week ago I was on a long trip to/from China. Wednesday it was time to fly from Shanghai to Chicago and then on to home. We were late leaving Shanghai and when the pilot came on the speaker he told us we were flying to Chicago through Oregon and it would add about an hour to our flight time. So we departed late and we weren't flying directly to Chicago. I was pleased as I was likely going to miss my connection.

Once we took off we had a fine meal and then it was time to sleep. It is a 13+ hour long flight at the end of the day in Shanghai so one must sleep. Buckled in, blanket, mask over eyes, goodbye.

Then the turbulence started. And I mean a lot of turbulence. For a very long time. The pilot would turn the seat belt signs on and the attendants would do their obligatory fasten your seat belts announcement.  Then he'd turn the lights off for 30 seconds so people could run to the lavatories. Then he'd turn them on again and the announcement would be made again. People are trying to sleep, we are bouncing around and then the announcements.

Then the pilot came on and told the flight attendants to sit down. A little later these overhead red lights started flashing at the front of the two aisles (two aisles on 777s).  They were just red at first, but then they started flashing. This went on for a while.

Still trying to sleep with a mask over my eyes, the plane rattling apart and blinking red lights shining for all to see. Hello? What did those lights mean? One starts thinking the worst like 'engine fell off the wing warning' or 'flight crew hurry and put on your parachutes before passengers realize we are in trouble warning' or the like.

Now I have 700K+ miles on United and 500K+ on Northwest/Delta airlines so I've flown a bit, but I've not seen these red lights before. Were we going to Chicago via Oregon to avoid the 'bad' weather?

After several hours of bouncing around things calmed down.

Still wondering about the red lights.

Glad to be home.

PS. As I write this, a preview of the new Denzel Washington move called Flight is shown on television. Those of us who fly a lot really like these kinds of movies...

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if you recieved feedback on this but I have seen where there are sensors for potential cabin depressurization that set off red lights warning the door is opening, etc. Maybe the turbulence was triggering the sensors? Nice thought.