Along the Natchez Trace

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fear of Flying and more....

Have I ever mentioned that I don't like to fly?  Just thinking of being in a huge metal capsule scares me and being in that thing 30,000' above solid ground makes me shiver.  Being in it for 6, 8 or 10 hours positively gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I used to want a window seat...  by gawd, I wanted to SEE that the engines were still attached and that the wings were still there.  The last few years I've preferred the aisle seat, or if Bill & I are flying together, I'll even take the middle seat if the plane is designed that way.

I figured out that I'll be flying ...  taking off and landing.... 15 times this year.  That's including our return flight from Costa Rica in March, my trip from Maine to Ohio (and back) in July, and this Asian trip.  I still have 3 of these flights to take, so, what the heck?  I'm only up to a dozen so far.

And, so far, everything has gone quite well.


Our flight from Singapore to Tokyo was an early flight....  boarding around 5:30 am.  The shuttle picked us up at the hotel at 3:00 AM.  No big deal...  between our phone alarm and our wake-up call we were down in the lobby at 2:45.

We went through customs and immigration and finally boarded and were on our way.

Almost immediately we all were served juice or coffee.  I chose orange juice...  nice way to start the day.  Not too long after this we could have either a breakfast or dinner menu.  I chose the chicken and rice.  I should mention here that we always fly the cheapest way... Bill and I "affectionately" call it "no class".  Bill is next to the window, I'm in the middle and a (probably very nice) lady is on the aisle.  

The meal I chose is inedible.... I take about 2 bites and know it's nothing I can eat.  I don't know how you mess up chicken and rice, but it's nothing I want.  We're less than an hour into the flight and already I have a half cup of orange juice and a full plate of food on my lap tray.  Now the stewardess (I don't think they're called that these days) brings around a bottle of water.  I start to find a place on my lap tray for the water and knock over my orange juice.

Damn, damn, damn!  About 6 ounces of orange juice feels like a gallon when dumped in your lap... and there's no place to go.  I can't put the tray back in place... I have nothing to sop up the mess...  I can't move, I'm belted in and am surrounded by others who are also belted in.

The juice runs into my lap, soaks my pants clear through to my underwear... front and back!  It runs over both sides of the lap tray... into the magazine holder that is also where I stashed the blanket that the airlines gave me for my comfy nap later.

It takes a while to get a stewardess for help...  she brings a wad of paper towels, and I soak up what I can, but my clothing got most of it...  except for what pooled at the back of my seat.  How in the world can a few ounces of liquid get so much so wet?  (As the flight progressed I also found that orange juice gets pretty sticky as it dries...  magazines and snuggy blanket are tacky and should be discarded.

Okay...  this crisis is over...  only 6 more hours into this flight.  I can handle this...

Almost immediately the lights flicker....  our TV or whatever you call that thing that shows movies etc. goes black.  I was really pissed... I was playing a video game and had a really high score.  I look around...  the guys in front of us also have a blank screen.

At this point I get a little nervous.  I was on a flight several years ago and the lights flickered...  and went out.  Our flight that was supposed to land in St Louis made an emergency landing in San Francisco... greeted by flashing red lights and emergency vehicles all over the runway.  The last couple of hours of that flight was in total darkness with no AC...  no emergency aisle lights... nada, nil, nothing....  total silence.  (hell, everyone on board was petrified...  not a peep).....  So I'd had some history with electrical problems and wasn't feeling real secure.

The lights came on... most everyone's TV started working again.  Ours didn't.  Neither did the guys in the seat in front of us.  After an hour or so of trying to fix fuses or whatever was in the electrical panel, the stewardess told the 2 guys in front that there were only 2 empty seats on the plane...  did they want to relocate?  I guess they didn't as they stayed there.  Another hour went by...  I finally found the stewardess and asked what was going on...  she said they were working on it....

Another hour...  nothing...  I think the stewardess is avoiding me.

Finally, after flagging her down again, she came to our seat and said they couldn't fix it.  She gave us the option of moving to those 2 empty seats, but by this time there was only 3 hours left to the flight so we stayed put.  She brought us little flashlights so that we could read...

Here's Bill...  reading a paperback by flashlight...

About now I have a total melt-down...  tears and all.
I'm so frustrated, so angry, so tired of it all, I just threw a tantrum.
Okay, so I didn't roll on the floor and kick my feet and pound my fists, but I think if I hadn't have been strapped in my seat with wet pants, sticky skin and had only maybe an inch between me and each of my fellow seat people I just might have done that.

I think the stewardess figured I was about to start screaming... or worse.
She came back and apologized for the problems (the juice incident wasn't her fault... that was totally my own....  but to sit in the dark with no entertainment, no lights, was the airlines problem)....  and offered us extra air-miles.  Oh Come On Lady...  do you think I care?  With problems like this do you think we'll want to fly with this airlines again?  Forget it!  She makes another trip back...  the airlines will reimburse us each $50 for our inconvenience.

By now we probably have only a couple more hours of the flight to go....  we'll be in Tokyo soon and catch our connecting flight to Hawaii.  I really need to get my anger and fears under control and move on.....  

And I did.

My pants dried.... even my underwear dried during the 6 hour wait until our connecting flight departed.  I got my sticky skin cleaned up....  I even finished the paperback I was reading while we waited for the next flight.

It arrived...  we departed Tokyo and arrived in Honolulu 8 hours later...  uneventful flight.  Of course our "no class" seats weren't real comfy for sleeping, but no thrills, no spills and all went well.

I'm betting a lot of you have your own stories about your own "flight from hell"....  but here's hoping this is the last one I'll be writing about for a long time.  I'll let you know if we get the $50 each...  I wonder if it will be a voucher for money off of a future flight?  

That's All For Today!


  1. Wow that was a flight from hell, sure hope you don't have anymore like it.

  2. Of course it's going to be a voucher for $50 off a future flight. Airlines never give you real money.

    My flights from hell include being seated next to an unaccompanied child who devoured the in-flight meal and then lost it all as the aircraft was descending to land, being on a flight into Duluth were winds were gusting off the lake at up to 60 mph (it was kind of like being on a roller coaster), being on a flight trying to land in Minneapolis in a thunderstorm where the plane got struck by lightning twice and the minister sitting across the aisle (he had the dog collar so was definitely a pastor) starting praying out loud to the effect of "Lord, forgive us sinners as we crash and burn," and being on a flight diverted to Minot, North Dakota, where we got to sit on the ground for what felt like several years (it was actually 3 hours) with no food or beverages and overflowing toilets while being able to see a Pizza Hut across the highway from the airport. The passengers started chanting "Send out for pizza! Send out for pizza!" It was tense.

    My one travel tip (and it's one you've probably already thought of, but I'll mention it anyway) is to always have a travel pack of baby wipes (or the equivalent) stashed in a purse or carry-on. I learned to pack a dry washcloth or two in a ziplock bag, too, so I'd be sure of having something to clean up with. Getting hit with someone else's kid's vomit can be inspirational.

    Hope your next adventure in air travel goes smoother.

  3. OMGosh Sharon, how awful. I too have my share of airline horror stories as I flew twice or more per month for 12 years while working. The worst might have been when we took off out of Denver heading for Billings, MT, heard a HUGE thud and the plane started to noticeably descend sharply. The whole entire plane was scared to death, no announcement from the pilots for what seemed forever and the girl next to me was SCREAMNING hysterically, "we are going to die, we are going to die." I turned to her and said, "I am going to slap you if you don't stop that, you are scaring people, me included!!!" FINALLY the pilot made an announcement, our landing gear would not retract and we needed to return to Denver for another plane--thanks a lot buddy, do you think you could have told us that before we all thought we were dying!!

  4. I have absolutely no adventures and have not even spent that long in a plane, because given the choice between flying and driving, four on the road work so well for me. It well be swell to have you home, no matter what adventure is next.

  5. After reading your blog and all the comments, I guess all my flights have been a ride in the park. Have had problems but none too serious.