PHL was fun tonight...I was on UA
, scheduled to depart ORD
at 4:10 pm...before we even boarded, the captain made an announcement in the gate area announcing the weather problems, and that we'd have to board and then go taxi to a penalty box for a wait of roughly an hour and a half or so for flow control...fair nuff, we sit in the box and finally take off around 6 pm central time...we get to the area between PIT
and MDT and are forced into a hold there because the line of storms is way too thick and absolutely no aircraft are making it through...according to the captain one aircraft tried to get through to ACY, got "stuck" and was forced to head southbound and eventually had to land in North Carolina somewhere to refuel! The captain says that we'll stay in the hold for a while and if the situation doesnt improve, then he would divert us to PIT
...we were in the hold for about 20 minutes and evidently things had opened up enough for aircraft to make it through, so we went for it, hit some nasty turbulence going between cells just east of the hold, and had to improvise somewhat to make it through (you can see the bizarre routing on the flightaware link at the bottom)...once in the PHL
area, evidently there was a cell right over the final approaches to the 27s, so the crew proposed to Philly Approach trying to make a "teardrop" pattern starting with an overhead pass of PHL
itself to get around and under the cell...that's pretty clear in the enlarged view of the flightaware map...on finals, Philly tower advised of a windshear alert 3 miles east of the 27R threshold, but it turned out to be a non-event, we landed safely at around 9 pm eastern time...we taxi to the D13 gate area, and stop 20 feet short of the jetway...the captain announces that there's been lightning within 5 miles of the field, so for ramper safety, ramp ops have stopped...so we wait...and wait...and wait...and wait...and in the sweltering a/c less cabin of the 733 (even though both engines were idling, no air conditioning was turned on), people get a little antsy (at one point during the wait, the captain announced that in a 15 minute period, nearly 800 lightning strikes had been recorded in the area)...finally, about 1 hour after we pulled up just short of the gate, conditions cleared up just enough to get a marshaller out for those all important last 20 feet...end result: 4 hours onboard an aircraft scheduled for a 1 hr. 45 minute flight...this flight would've been endless without Channel 9, but fortunately the captain was kind enough to turn it on for the whole flight...greatest thing ever!!!
What a night...