I read a hilarious post yesterday about airplane travel (I’ll get to that soon), and it made me wonder if there is any such thing as a mundane flight? I suppose there is, if you travel all the time. For someone like myself that can count how many airplane trips I have taken in my life on two hands, it seems there is always some little hiccup.
Continental Airlines: Cleveland, OH to Orlando, FL – December, 1995:
To save on airfare we decided to fly out of the nearby Akron/Canton airport. We were forced to board a little puddle jumper to take us to O’Hare in Chicago where we would catch our flight to Orlando. Akron/Canton being the little airport that it is generally has lower fares, but it also forced us to board tiny a plane directly from the tarmac. This was the last week of December and it was freezing cold. We trudged out onto the windy tarmac with the other passengers and boarded the dark plane. Dark? Yes, and cold too. Seems there was a little problem with a “back up generator”, so instead of starting the plane ahead of time and oh, warming it up a bit, they decided to turn on the plane right before takeoff.
There we were in Rows 11 and 12 awaiting the takeoff and the lights, and the heat, along with the rest of the passengers. First the engines started up. OK, that’s a good sign. Then the lights kicked on. Ahhh, now I can get a better look at this tiny plane I was about to fly in. Lastly, the heaters kicked on. Now we’re talking, finally some heat. Only problem? As we begin taxiing down the runway smoke began blowing out of the heater vents. Everyone looked around in a panic, the Flight Attendant came flying down the aisle towards the cockpit, and some guy in 4A started shouting “We have smoke!” over and over again. ‘WE HAVE SMOKE!” “WE HAVE SMOKE!” “WE HAVE SMOKE"!”
If I wasn’t sitting on the plane rows behind him I might have found the situation hilarious. Well it turns out that the smoke was caused by sudden heat, and moisture, and condensation, etc. I don’t remember the technicalities of it all but I do remember the smoke and the smell of the smoke, and looking at my trusting children’s faces and my husband’s reassuring nods and thinking “Oh God, we are all going to die”.
Imagine my thrill when the return flight home involved catching a 13-seater from D.C. to Cleveland. The worst. Ever.
Continental Airlines: Cleveland, OH to Orlando, FL – same trip in ‘95.
This is the first time flying for my then 6-year old son. He is excited. I am nervous. He insists he is a big boy and old enough to go to the restroom by himself. You know, because peeing standing up in a moving airline ranks up there pretty high for an 6 year old boy. While he is in the restroom we hit turbulence. TUR. BU. LENCE. I am holding my drink, I am holding my toddler. My stomach is dropping along with the plane. The captain comes on and tells everyone to “put your seats in the upright positions and fasten your seatbelts”. I am freaking out!! Suddenly I remember, my poor baby is in the restroom!! I look around frantically. There is not a
stewardess flight attendant in sight. What do I do? I am not allowed to “move around the cabin”. My baby boy, he must be so scared!! Minutes later he shows up next to me with this huge grin on his face. “Mom! That was soo cooool!!!”. Like I said, he was 6.
Southwest Airlines: Cleveland, OH to Orlando, FL – April, 2008
My daughter and I are flying to Orlando for her cheerleading & dance competition. It’s the big time folks. The Ultimate National Championships. The culmination of a year of practice, sweat, hard work, and sacrifice, and we both have the Seasonal Flu. The Flu, not a cold virus or a stomach bug, but the gosh darned, doctor confirmed, actual Influenza. We have no choice. We have to go. She has no choice. She has to compete. We slept at the gate waiting to board the plane. We were feverish and miserable and hoping that we’d be on the mend two days from then, when it would be time for her to put her game-face on. We tried to steer clear of her teammates and her coaches. We didn’t want anyone else infected.
We were some of the last to board the plane. In case you have never flown Southwest, you get to choose your own seats. The front of the plane naturally fills up first, so we trudged to the back along with the rest of her team. As we get to the rear of the plane it is evident that the seating is not going to work out and Lizzie and I will be separated. Do her teammates offer up seats? Heck no. They’ve been planning their “flying buddy” for weeks now. Do her coaches move for us? No, and I still haven’t figured that one out yet. As I stand there surmising the situation and trying to figure out what to do with my feverish, flu-ridden child, her Coach stands up and takes matters into her own hands. As loud as she can she announces to the entire rear of the plane, “Excuse me everyone, we have a VERY sick child here. Is there anyone that would be willing to give up a seat so she can sit with her mother?” Yep. She went there. Now not only do I have a whimpering 13-year old, but I have the entire tail section of Flight 693 glaring at me and my “sick” child. It was definitely not what they wanted to hear.
Sooo, no one moved and we were forced to sit in different rows. I made sure to sniffle and cough and be completely miserable as close to the personal air space of the person next to me as I possibly could. Maybe he ended up sick, maybe he didn’t, but he can’t prove a thing.
Continental Airlines: Las Vegas/Cleveland – July, 2008
I went to Vegas on a business trip with my brother (yeah, it pretty much sucked being in Vegas for my first time, on a business trip, with my brother.) By 2008 I had wonderful things to think about while flying, like 9/11 and Oceanic Flight 815, so flying for me was now more nerve racking than ever. Enter Xanax. Hello my little friend. I first tried it back in April on the trip to Orlando and it did the trick. So when I had to fly to Vegas I called up the doctor and requested a few pills to calm my nerves. On the flight out to Vegas I took 1/2 pill which is like 1/2 mg. of Xanax. It was enough to calm me down, plus I had my brother’s chatter to keep me occupied. On the return flight home I was flying ALONE, my first time flying alone. I was not happy. I had to be at the airport at 5:00 AM. I am sooo not a morning person. I tried to calm myself while visions of The Others danced through my head. Then I had a light bulb moment. Why not take a full dose of of Xanax instead of just 1/2 dose? It can’t hurt right? If anything I’ll get a nice buzz and have a calm and happy flight.
I did mention that it was 5:00 AM right? In my groggy, nervous state I took my double dose and then realized 5 minutes later (when I began to feel odd) that I didn’t just take double my dose, I TOOK TWO PILLS! Double dose would have meant 1 whole pill, but since I was sleepy and not thinking clearly I mistakenly took 2 pills thinking my original dose was 1 pill!
Folks, I slept through takeoff. I was smooshed up against that window with my neck all crooked, but I slept like a newborn babe. The kind elderly lady smooshed up on my right side woke me when they served the food. I ate the food (no idea what it was), and immediately fell back to sleep. I woke up about an hour before we were scheduled to land and could not for the life of me figure out what large lake we were flying over. It must have been a Great Lake, but I just couldn’t figure out how a straight line from Vegas to Cleveland would involve a Great Lake. We were too far from arrival for it to be Lake Erie and I was perplexed. To this day I still can’t figure out where the heck we were. Anyway, I fell back to sleep and the kind lady woke me when we landed.
While we were taxiing in I called my Mom (who lives like 10 minutes from the airport) and asked her to come pick me up. I got off the plane, stopped in the restroom to pee, and went straight to baggage claim. There I stood in baggage claim for what seemed an eternity waiting for the luggage. I began to get annoyed. How long does it take to get the luggage from the plane to the terminal? Where are the rest of the passengers? I looked up at the monitor. Yep, this was my flight. What the heck was going on? I looked to my left, I looked to my right, and then I looked left again. That’s when I saw it. My suitcase sitting all alone in the baggage claim, standing upright next to the conveyor belt.
What is going on here? Where are the other passengers? How did all of this happen so quickly? Truth be told I must have passed out on the toilet. It’s the only explanation that I can think of. I know I went straight from the gate to the restroom to baggage claim. I know I didn’t get lost. I passed out on the john like a 17 yr. old at a rock concert. I lost track of time. I blacked out. I OD’d on Xanax and I didn’t even get the benefit of a full prescription. Wow! I don’t remember the lift home from my parents, I don’t remember my family greeting me after my 8-day absence. I just know I woke up the next morning and felt as good as new.
Let’s just keep this between us, shall we? What happens in/to/from Vegas stays in Vegas, right?
Whew!! If you actually kept with me through the longest post in history and my goofy flying stories then you deserve a reward!!
Here are links to posts written by two actual writers that tell much more humorous and compelling air travel stories than I do. They are hilarious and favorites of mine. The world of air travel according to Fussy and Dooce.
Happy contrails to you, until we meet again!