The 8 Most Miserable Moments to Look Forward to on your Next Flight
I will never forget my first airline flight. We were hovering above the Rocky Mountains flying from Texas to Colorado and I was in AWE. I literally squealed "Pinch me, I must be dreaming!" with my little Pollyanna voice. That began a lifetime of adventurous experiences in travel. A few hundred flights later, I am less than enthused. Don't get me wrong. I am grateful for this miraculous invention. It is the reason that I've been able to swim with sharks in Bora Bora, hug my best friend that moved to Hawaii, and see the Eiffel Tower light up the Parisian night sky. But let's face it. The whole process can be brutal and I have a cringeworthy treasure trove of stories that support that. As the VanBassador of VanJets, I hope people start considering an alternative to those shorter flights. But for now, let's just focus on the miseries of airline travel, shall we? Here are the 8 most miserable moments to look forward to on your next flight!
1. Losing your checked bags or having them destroyed.
Our trip to Jamaica will go down in travel debacle history. Our flight had been significantly delayed and we rolled into Montego Bay late at night with a pair of 11-month old boys and a 3 year old boy. We went through the whole "carousel of torture" experience to find that our bags weren't quite up to the trip to Jamaica that evening and had decided that North Carolina was more their speed. Since we had dealt with delays, I had burned through all of my baby supplies, including DIAPERS. I had 3 children in diapers and zero diapers... In Jamaica.... Late at night. Our driver graciously took us to a gas station and I was somehow designated to solve the problem. I bounced into the gas station and realized quickly that the driver was now serving as my bodyguard. This was an unanticipated turn of events. The gas station was smoky, to the point that I was getting a contact high. I tried to be casual, like I belonged in Montego Bay in the middle of the night, but my spray tan, fedora, and bleached blonde hair blew my cover. I grabbed some diapers, saw that the label was in another language, shrugged my shoulders, and marched up to pay. I thought it was odd that the cashier was giving me such an unusual look. It made sense when we arrived at the hotel and I realized that I had bought GIANT adult diapers. You see all the fun that can ensue when you lose your bags?
2. Fears of being down with the sickness.
I will stick up for the airlines here as the air quality is much better than people think. However, no one enjoys the experience of being in close quarters next to a coughing sneezing stranger. Your mind will spend the entire flight trying to evaluate if your seat partner has allergies or a cold. Between dehydration from the dry air, touching the many shared surfaces, and drinking the questionable ice water, your risk of illness might increase from your flights. Being stressed and tired from your day of travel isn't a favor to your immune system either.
I remember a friend telling me about an outbreak of food poisoning on a long flight to Singapore. It hit nearly everyone who ate the first meal. I will spare you the vivid details, but you can just imagine the scenario of a flight of people with violent food poisoning, only a few bathrooms, and nowhere to land. This is the stuff nightmares are made of, my friends!
Waiting. So much waiting. The line to check in. The security line. The airport bathroom line. The line to board. Who doesn't love feeling like you are in a herd of cattle waiting to get to your seat? If you are like me and in the Tiny Bladder Club, you inevitably get to experience the awkward airplane aisle bathroom line. The line to get off the plane. The wait to get your bags. The taxi line. MOOOOOOOOOO. No thanks.
If this list were in some kind of order, delays would take the #1 spot. Being trapped in the airport, with no idea when the trapping will end, is a special kind of agony. However, it is not as bad as the onboard delay. There is nothing like getting settled into your seat, and then hearing the pilot inform you in his crackly voice that you might not get off of the plane for the rest of your life. "We can't let you off, but we also can't fly the plane yet". The HORROR. I've experienced this for hours with small cranky children on an uncomfortably warm plane, as I watched my exposed bags get soaked in the rain on the tarmac. Did I need therapy after this incident? Probably.
5. Limited Checked Bags/Outrageous Bag Fees
On more than one occasion, I have been that lady crouched down by the check-in desk, suitcases wide open, unmentionables exposed, as I try to shift belongings from one bag to another to avoid the oversized luggage fee. I understand the logic. A bag handler shouldn't need physical therapy after lugging my 80 lb bag full of beauty necessities, high heels, boots, and galoshes (a lady must be prepared). But this is still the only mode of transportation where I have had this embarrassing dilemma.
6. Lack of Privacy
Screaming babies, guy who forgot to take his morning shower, lady loudly telling the day's events to a stranger. You are now an unwilling participant in your seatmeates' lives. And they are in yours. I have met some lovely people on planes. But sometimes you just want peace. And a plane is not the place for peace.
7. Lack of Space
Can't afford first class? You aren't 4 feet tall and 80 pounds? Then get ready to contort your body when you settle into coach! The person in front of you reclines as soon as given permission, so you recline too. The person behind you is annoyed and knees your repeatedly in the back. A meal is served. The attendant makes you sit up but doesn't require the person in front of you to sit up. The injustice! But my all time favorite moment was when a lady dropped her giant bag (how did she even carry that on??) on top of my head while loading it into the overhead compartment. There was no apology offered, and stars and birds were circling my head, but these are just the types of circumstances you agree to when buying your airline ticket!
8. Airport Security
As much as I love that machine that makes you spread your legs while you get radiated, my favorite part of airport security is the wanding of snacks. With 3 children, I bring a minimum of about 50 individual sized sealed snacks for long flights. They run their bomb wand over ALL OF THEM. Has someone really tried to put bombs in a fruit strip package? Why can't the conveyer belt machine see the difference between bombs and a fruit strip? These are questions I may never have answers for.
Our love/hate relationship with flying will continue because explorers at heart must endure. But for those shorter trips, why not bypass the hassles and book a VanJets instead?