Well, it wasn't exactly our Chicago problem, as in Joe and Mary's Chicago Problem. No, it was really American Airlines' Chicago Problem, and they solved it quite nicely.
We were on our way home from Weetacon (more on that lovely weekend later) and connecting to our flight to Philly. We had a rather tight connection at O'Scare O'Hare and had to make the trek from Concourse L to Concourse H quickly - not quite a forced march, thankfully, but not a stroll with a stop for a beverage either.
Boarding was just starting when we arrived at the gate. Things seemed to be going quite smoothly. We actually found space in the overhead for our coats and such. We settled in our seats and buckled up. It appeared that boarding was over and I rejoiced because the aisle seat in our row was empty.
Then, there was an announcement. The flight attendant told us that we had to deplane and take our luggage with us. After everyone was off the plane, they would reboard. No explanation came forth. Just get your stuff and get off, thank you.
Well, okay then.
As we waited for reboarding, the fellow who had been sitting in front of us opined that it was because a passenger had refused to check her bag at the gate and stormed down the jetway and on to the plane. Then she proceeded to slam all of the overhead compartment doors with much force. He had seen this happen and said she the slamming was loud enough that everyone jumped. Neither Joe nor I witnessed this temper tantrum because we boarded later.
Then we saw two airport security guards and a quite large Chicago cop walk up to a young woman standing near us. The cop politely requested her identification. She handed it over without complaint. He radioed her information in, then looked at her boarding pass. I could tell she was getting nervous. He handed back the pass, but kept her driver's license. She asked for it. He said he would have to keep it while they checked her for outstanding arrest warrants and that it was standard procedure in all of these cases. I really wanted to see the upshot, but the reboarding process started.
We got back on, stowed our stuff, buckled in. Alas, a guy actually did have the aisle seat, so my theory is that they stopped boarding before his group was called to take care of Miss Hissy Fit.
Once we were in the air, the flight attendant came on the intercom and thanked us for our cooperation. They had done it because "there was a bad person on the plane behaving badly and this was the easiest way to ensure that the person got off the plane without incident." Then she thanked us for "being the good people."
The flight was only delayed for about 15 minutes all told. I have to say that this was a pretty brilliant way to handle the problem. No cop on the plane, no forcing the person off while being photographed and filmed on numerous cell phones, no further tantrums from the bad person. It was handled quickly, discreetly, and successfully.
When we landed, the flight attendant once again thanked the passengers for our helping with "Our Chicago Problem" - at which point Joe said, "Our Chicago Problem would be a great name for a rock band!"
And so it would.