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Some time ago, I posted about my funny experiences while travelling by bus. Today I will enumerate some anecdotes from my experience as passenger of commercial flights.

There was a time, when I had little travel experience, in which I felt excitement in the verge of an upcoming trip by plane. I even counted my flights. Nowadays, even if I'm still far from being the best customer of the airway companies, I've been aboard planes so many times that the count cannot be maintained any more. Moreover, I have the impression that I attract an out of proportion amount of events, up to the point where some of my workmates pull my leg about being nervous by the prospect of going on a business trip with me. I don't think I have bad luck, anyway. Here is a collection of some of my adventures:

Is there any doctor on board? It happened in a return trip from Vienna to Barcelona in Sep. 2008. I was seated near the front of the plane. One of the passengers was feeling unwell, and the flight assistant used the PA to ask whether there was any doctor on board. Fortunately, there was at least one, and the condition of the passenger wasn't serious.

Cancellation due to fog conditions. In October, 2007, I arrived to Asturias airport early in the morning only to find that my flight had been cancelled. It took me 6 hours travelling by bus to Madrid, and I failed to make the next connection. So far, quite normal. However, I was very annoyed because the decision to cancel my flight was taken the day before, but the company still allowed me to print my boarding card from home. They should have warned me about the problem!

Landing on ice. I think I've been lucky with the weather conditions -- with the exception of the cancellation described above. However, I've landed twice with very low temperatures. It was in January 2007. The temperature was -10ºC in Boston, and it was snowing in London.

Where's the plane?. A number of objects and actors must be concurrently present in order to successfully start a flight. I've witnessed a huge delay of a flight due to the absence of the crew. And I've been stuck on Dublin due to the lack of a plane.

To make people happy. After the terrorist attacks (and attempted attacks), governments and security forces became paranoid about security. Controls multiplied in the airports. In Heathrow, I was in the finger, about to board the plane, when a security officer took me apart from the line. He frisked me and he carefully inspected my hand luggage in front of all the passage. I asked him if there was something wrong. He admitted there wasn't, and he gave me the reason for the sudden control: "it's just to make people happy".

Talkative pilot. In 2008, a Spanair flight crashed in Madrid, killing more than 150 people, apparently due to maintenance issues of the aircraft (the investigation is still ongoing). A few weeks after this horrible disaster, I flew with Spanair to Barcelona. The passengers were a bit nervous. The captain reacted by speaking through the PA many times during the flight. Apart from the usual chattery about weather conditions at the landing airport and our current position and altitude, he slipped some reassuring sentences: "all the systems aboard are working like a charm", "we have been assigned the best and longest runway", etc.

Waiting in the runway. One of the most frustrating cancellations I've suffered happened in Heathrow. I stayed for 3 hours inside the plane without taking-off. They gave us some reasons for the delays. First, we waited for some passengers from another trans-continental flight. Later, we moved for a while, but we returned to the gate because they wanted to remove a piece of luggage from the plane. Finally, we waited for a fresh crew, but British Airways was apparently unable to find anyone in their own base airport. After three hours seated in the plane, the captain spoke through the PA to make two announcement: the flight was cancelled, and we were invited to have the dinner before leaving the plane!

Missing software in brand new aircraft. I boarded a plane in Madrid, only to discover that the plane was brand new. But we suffered a delay before undocking from the finger. The captain spoke to confirm that this was the very first flight of that plane, but apparently "some... uh... important piece of software is missing". It took an hour to the ground staff to install the required software in the onboard systems, and we finally took off. I wonder which software was missing. Maybe it was the TomTom?