11 years ago – July 17th, 1996

02007-07-17 | Uncategorized | 8 comments

I am in Milan after 2days of flights: albuquerque – st.louis – nyc – milan… the TWA flight from kennedy airport in new york 2 milan is delayed by 1 1/2 hours…

the flight manager doesn’t want 2 let me bring my guitar onboard: no space in the overhead bins!! i say, i can put it in a closet, but she replies that that is illegal… i reply, that i do it all the time… she says, it’s always illegal… i say, i CANNOT let her have the guitar… i walk 2 the upper deck… she says she will check on me… ah, but the flight attendent on the upper deck likes flamenco + stores the guitar in the little closet… ‘don’t tell the flight manager’, he says… i won’t, i reply… i sit down + pray that the flight manager will 4get all about me…

there are only 2 other people on the upper deck, an american couple flying 2 a wedding in italy… an announcement: we won’t have a lot of cabin space 4 luggage, since TWA purchased this aircraft used from Air France + it hasn’t been changed 2 the specifications of TWA yet… more delay… maybe the pilots cannot read the french manuals 4 the 747 we joke… well, this plane doesn’t even have video, we are told… i point out the overhead video projector… oh, but that never worked… hm, aha, but the engines are supposed 2 work? more delay… a stewardess says, that we will leave soon… i ask, how she knows this + she answers, that the pilots are now pushing a lot of buttons… the steward shows us the safety instructions, but warns us that he hasn’t actually gone through them in a long time, ’cause all other planes show safety instruction videos… now i’m 29,000 feet above the ground in this old 747, formerly owned by Air France + i’m helping the stewardess translate the temperature readings of the stove, which are in centigrade… the next morning i arrive @ the hotel in milan, turn on CNN + find out that flight #800, which couldn’t have left JFK airport more than 5 or 10 minutes b4 or after our flight, had exploded in midair… what a feeling… i saw some of those people waiting in the terminal!!!

I call my friends in the USA. Some of them only knew that I was flying to Italy, and worried that I might have been on Flight 800…


  1. Carol

    I remember that vividly. Yes, I worried, too till I read your e-mail.

  2. LR

    Quite the story… and as I was reading it, I wondered about Flight 800, as it was an old 747, one of the first. For years the rumour persisted that it was shot down by a rogue USN missile (believe Pierre Salinger insisted this was the case), although the later official opinion was that it was a spark that ignited a vapour lock in the main fuel crossover or something. Who knows? The Ghost In the Machine.

  3. dave

    Makes you take stock of your life, I imagine.

  4. Luz

    How ironic that you posted this today and sadly another jet has crashed but this time in Brazil. My prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones. Ironically, just last week I randomly clicked on a date on your blog and actually came across this one but didn’t get the chance to read it completely.

  5. Michael

    I don’t think TWA ever bought any 747s from Air France?

  6. Diran

    How about these days! Do they let you take the guitar onboard?

  7. ottmar

    Michael: the flight attended told me the plane was purchased from Air France and all of the controls where in French – which is why she asked me about centigrade. It had been repainted, but not yet converted on the inside.

    Diran: depends on the flight attendants and on the type of plane. Some of the small jets that some airlines are using now don’t have enough space in the overheads. Sometimes I am allowed to use a closet, sometimes not. Another guitarist told me that now it is once again allowed to buy two tickets – one for self and one for guitar.

  8. Charla Pavlik

    Hey, wow, that brought back memories for me, I was a flight attendant for 7 years, 1987-1994 and I always would stick stuff in that front closet if I could, one time one of the head flight attendants, we called them “A position” (I hated flying “A”) caught me and wrote me up and caused a HUGE stink………I eventually got fired thank GOD!………(they claim that it is for safety reasons, I am guessing in case of a crash, your guitar may have blocked the way to an exit! Well, stay safe and keep on playing, but could you please make your way back to texas.


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