April 2018

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer #16: Shame on You!

Summer #16: I got kicked off the plane on my first international flight, from New York JFK to London Heathrow to Dublin, Ireland. When I boarded the gigantic plane, a woman was already in my seat. We had matching tickets, except for our names. The nice attendant said they'd get it straightened out, no worries. Just wait right here. Just off the plane. About twenty others joined me just off the plane; the attendants blocked he doors like they were storm troopers, and we were herded back to the concourse. "Our computers have been sabotaged," claimed a Hogan's Heroes caricature with round glasses and an exaggerated German accent posed as an airline agent. Pan Am agents rebooked me and my peers (we had become peers) onto a flight going from New York to Germany to London and from there I would continue to Dublin. I sat in the upstairs area with a high school wrestling team. In Germany, a bomb went off in the airport, though I didn't realize that was the cause of all the sirens when we landed. Finally, I flew to Heathrow and on to Dublin where my friend Sara did her best impersonation of O.J. Simpson (before the slow chase days) leaping over obstacles to greet me a day later. Mom wrote a letter to Pan Am, closing, "Shame on you!" They refunded the price of my ticket, and this flight prepared my for low expectations when I fly, an attitude that has come in handy.

About ten years ago, Ann and I had a more frightening ride on  a small Costa Rican airplane. We had been to the Pacific Coast and took a taxi to our "terminal." The taxi left us off at a meadow in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere. We stood in the field with our suitcases and gradually about ten other Americans joined us. Eventually, two small airplanes landed in our field. An overweight pilot took our bags and the bags of four others and started shoving them into the baggage hold. One woman had a suitcase as large as my mother's suitcase, and the pilot grunted and sweated so much that we feared he might have a heart attack. We boarded the six-seater and prepared for take off. No drinks would be served on this flight. As the pilot took off, I wondered if the red flashing light was important and was then distracted by the mountain that we were headed towards. At what seemed like the last minute, the pilot banked, and went at it again, this time clearing the mountain. As we flew, the plane kept hitting air pockets and the plane would sink. Thinking we might die, I was thankful that this flight was at the end of the vacation instead of the beginning, and I wondered if someone would develop the pictures I had taken with my new camera. Deep thoughts for a dying person. Everyone else, somewhat green, had their faces in their barf bags. I doubt their thoughts were any deeper. When we finally landed no one cheered or even looked at each other. We got our bags and shuffled off to find our next flight.

On another miserable flight, not scary but unpleasant, we were returning with our friends Marion and Wolfgang to Seattle from our Mexico vacation. We landed in an intermediary city, maybe Phoenix, and found that our flight to Seattle would not be going. Everyone on this flight would need to rebook. The next flight to Seattle was in three days. We booked a flight to Portland, tried unsuccessfully to find a hotel for the night, and finally slept on the airport floor. At least we had our luggage with us since the airport was cold at night. We put on all our clothes. The next morning, I sat with Ann's and my luggage as she went to find Marion and Wolfgang for breakfast. Aware of all those airport announcements about unattended luggage but also experiencing Montazuma's Revenge, I dragged all of our luggage into the restroom with me. Whew. Made it. Finally, we flew to Portland, rented a car, and drove home to rest for our day back at work in a few hours.

A few months after my brain surgery, Ann and I flew to NC for the annual summer beach trip. Our seats were in the very last row. I sat in the middle, and when the attendant brought me a cup of ice-water at the beginning of the flight, I didn't notice that the tray was tilted. The cupful slid into my lap. That ice was cold, and when we landed my britches were wet. I was walking with a walker and could not see well, so as soon as we got to a bathroom, I tried to dry up. I could just see others in the airport thinking, "Oh, that poor disabled woman wet her pants."

This year, our flight from Raleigh to Seattle  wasn't as bad, and some of the misery was our fault, but the flying experience wasn't joyful. Confused about the day our flight left, we arrived at the airport about 24 hours late for our flight. After much hemming and hawing, the airilne reparesentative rebooked us on the same flight for that night. Ann bought a new ticket, but because I was flying using frequent flyer miles, I just lost my first class status. Because of mechanical problems, our flight would leave two hours late, so we found a pub and had dinner and a large beer, knowing there would only be expensive cheese and crackers or peanuts on the plane. This tasty beer was the best part of the night. The napkin served with our on-board drinks read, "Turn flights and everyday purchases into lifetime memories." There's humor everywhere. We just missed our connection to Seattle in Dallas, so we spent the night in Dallas, got up the next morning and caught a flight to St. Louis and then finally returned to Seattle in time for my dentist appointment.

I understand why rich people have jets. Mary

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment: I'd love to hear your thoughts!