IT WAS A SMALL THING. THE CABIN crew that was to take Continental Airlines Flight 7658 from Houston to Washington was late arriving inbound to George Bush Intercontinental Airport. As passengers in the gate area prepared themselves for official word of the inevitable delay, the agent made an unexpected announcement: Boarding would begin in a few minutes, thanks to a team of cabin attendants whose flight was not yet scheduled to depart. The fill-in crew got everyone onboard and seated in a ...

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