One of the scariest flights I ever worked also happens to be one of the first flights I ever worked for an airline called Sun Jet International Airlines. I lasted three months before moving on. Sun Jet is no longer in business. I’m going to guess this had a lot to do with gimmicky $69 flights to cities like Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, and Long Beach. While cheap tickets attract a lot of passengers interested in saving a buck, they don’t always cover the cost of maintenance and upkeep of aircraft for smaller airlines. At least that’s what I assumed based on the fact that I quickly became accustomed to the FAA meeting our flight in Long Beach, California every Tuesday afternoon and taking the equipment out of service. And this had nothing to do with all those duct taped armrests or the black plastic garbage bags some passengers had to sit on after they discovered their seat cushions were soaked with urine. Because that’s what happens when you mix cheap tickets, a quick aircraft turn-around on the ground, and seventeen unaccompanied minors on a previous flight! Hey, better a damp seat than no seat. Unfortunately that was the only alternative most of the time, because our flights were always full.
I should have known when I boarded it was going to be a strange flight based on the aircraft lighting alone. Throughout the all-economy class cabin the side wall lights were on the blink and flickering in the dark. This made the airplane feel less like a disco and more like a haunted house. But it wasn’t until we hit severe turbulence half an hour before landing in Dallas that the creepy mood lighting actually became a problem. It started to freak the passengers out. At one point even I began to feel like I was starring in my very own Stephen King horror movie at 30,000 feet.
“Flight attendants take your seats!” boomed the Captain’s voice over the PA.