What do you do when the wonders of air travel leave you stuck on the ground?

Friday, June 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

For many folks, summer is the season for travel and that means more time in the air — if you're lucky.

But there's a chance you could share the plight of those passengers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in early June, when storms in the Northeast delayed hundreds of planes. One especially unlucky United Airlines flight was stuck on the tarmac for more than eight hours.

In that unlikely, unlucky event, we offer this handy guide to sitting on the tarmac. Clip on the dotted line and fold into pocket size - then cross your fingers, close your eyes and think "fly."

Connect the dots

Distract yourself from the confines of that coach-class airplane seat by connecting the dots to create this spacious fantasy image.

Have a little phone

Nothing chews up more time - or makes the user feel more important - than a cell phone. While cell phone use is not permitted during takeoff, no one says you can't use it while you're grounded. What better way to fight that claustrophobic "I'm-stuck-on-a-plane" feeling? Here are five potential phone calls to make during your tarmac experience.

The boss. Even if your trip is not work-related, there's something impressive about being stuck on a plane. It could land you a day off.

A radio station. Ordinarily, they never play your request, but how could they refuse you now?

Old girl/boyfriend. The guilt-tripping possibilities seem plentiful. Not that you're the type of person who likes to guilt-trip. But you're under duress here.

A pizza parlor. Just like Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Wouldn't your plane-mates love a delivery of hot pepperoni pies?

A psychic hotline. Maybe they can tell you how much longer you'll be stuck on the plane.

Ode to the god of lost luggage

Carry-on's better

but on this doomed day

the airline asked, "Check it?"

and I said OK.

Yes, I checked my poor suitcase

at the front gate.

Now, stuck on the tarmac,

I fret o'er its fate.

Is it en route to Juneau?

Bound for Cozumel?

Or is it circling sadly

on some lonely carousel?

Even worse than the idea of

my 'case being forsaken

is the frightening prospect

of it getting taken.

The thought of my undies

being nabbed makes me cringe.

And what if they pilfer

my jacket with fringe?

And so here I beg you

oh god of lost luggage

please perform your magic

and avert major thuggage.

— Teresa Gubbins

Test your tootsie

Stuck on the tarmac with your betrothed? There's no better time to test your compatibility. Here's a quick test:

1. You've rushed to the airport. You both skipped dinner. In the bottom of your pocketbook, you find a chocolate bar. You:

A. Run to the bathroom and scarf it down without mentioning a word to your sweetie.

B. You break it in half and share.

C. You find a mint, brush off the lint and give that to him while you secretly eat the chocolate.

2. The first time you heard your fiance do that thing with his teeth, it was cute. Now it's plucking your last nerve. You:

A. Use your cell phone to make a dental appointment for him.

B. Use your sweetest little-girl voice to ask him to stop.

C. Suddenly pull your purse free from the stuff wedged under your seat and knock him hard enough to loosen his front teeth. Say oops at the same time.

3. Now's the time for a heart-to-heart. He can't turn up the TV or even walk away. Ask him if he thinks you're too fat or if his mother really likes you - whatever burning question you may have. He:

A. Says, "I don't know."

B. Yells fire and runs to the emergency exit and activates the slide.

C.. Tells you, "I love you."

(Scoring: If you make it to question 3 and he answers C, when you land, head to the nearest chapel.)

How to win friends among your fellow passengers

Play "Spin the Tiny Bottle."

Put up a sign saying you're giving out "free advice" like the guys at White Rock Lake.

Stand up and declare, "I will not fasten my seat belt, nor will I return my tray table to its locked and upright position. I AM NOT AN ANIMAL."

Get on the PA system and imagine you're back in junior high school giving the morning announcements.

Stick a pop-up air freshener on every third row.

Act like a conspiracy theorist and question why they're not showing Passenger 57 or Air Force One on this flight.

Help your fellow passengers determine whether their contents have shifted. We're talking about in the overhead compartments, silly.

Pour some warm soup into your airsickness bag and ask the guy in front of you to hold onto it while you take care of some other business.

Take out your acoustic guitar and play "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

Set up a black-market business selling extra diapers.

Stage relay races down the aisle.

Perform your own dramatic interpretation of the Twilight Zone TV episode where William Shatner was a paranoid passenger who kept seeing a creature on the wings of the plane.

Tell the person seated next to you, "If we crashed in the Andes, I promise you'd be the last person I'd eat."