Childhood Memories Friday: Flying

My first airplane journey came in 1982, when I was 17. I was a national finalist in a sewing contest through the local Girls Club and as part of my prize, I was awarded a trip to the national convention in Boston. As Indiana to Boston is a bit of a trek, this involved a plane flight. I flew with the local club’s director, and I remember being amazed at the sights as I looked out the window. All the land laid out in neat grids – it was breathtaking! I ate clam chowder on the flight and was shocked to find that I liked it.

Over the next decade, I made several overseas flights, but still enjoyed flying overall. There is always that feeling that I might not make it during takeoff and landings: how can something so big actually make it safely into the air and fly? Also, the wonder that anyone would actually choose to work on an airplane — it seems that the law of statistics would dictate that a lifetime of such a job would result in at least one or two crashes?? I’m also still dumb-struck each time I think of the Wright brothers out there, practicing over and over to invent a flying machine.

Since having kids, my flying has been severely curtailed, and perhaps, given all the 9 11 changes, that’s for the best. Flying really is much more of a pain in this brave new world, as I was witness to on our recent trip (to Hawaii, for those of you wondering).

Flying there was fairly uneventful (if you can classify an 11-hour, two segment flight thusly), but the return trip, not so much. Our long leg from Honolulu to Atlanta proceeded as planned. The problem came when our flight from Atlanta to home was canceled for some inexplicable reason (weather issues were initially named, although the weather when we arrived in Atlanta was sunny and perfect).

Nonetheless, the flight remained canceled and we were therefore stuck. Stuck in an airport. Stuck in an airport after already having been awake for 17 hours, and it was now 6 a.m.

One thing I learned during this fiasco was that, at least on Delta, when your flight is canceled, you are basically toast. Delta will put you on standby, but if future flights are full, well, you are sadly out of luck. It doesn’t matter that Delta was the one who canceled the flight. It doesn’t matter that there was apparently no reason for the cancellation.

atlanta airport

Atlanta Airport — scene of way too much of my time on Sunday

Do I sound a bit ticked? Why, how perceptive of you 🙂 Because when two more flight opportunities (and six hours) had passed, without any seats at all opening up, I was.

Finally, finally, after much cajoling, a crying teen, begging, and sheer frustration in front of an utterly ineffective Delta service rep (side note: why are these employees always consulting a computer screen? I swear it’s to diffuse customer anger. This guy stood staring at his computer screen for probably five minutes solid while 14 angry customers stood waiting for any news from him), we were routed to Washington DC and finally back home to the good ol’ midwest. The final leg of the flight had more drama as it was in a small (60-ish passenger) plane which took off during a storm and prominently featured 4 out-n-proud Muslims seated just in front of me. Sorry for the non-PC attitude, but flights and prominent Muslims do not make for a relaxing flight, in my book. I sat there for 90 minutes, expecting one of them to jump up with a gleaming knife and a cheery “Allahu Akbar!” at any moment.

delta air help

Yep — Delta could use a little help, that’s for sure.

When we finally got back home shortly before midnight, we were all totally exhausted and yet relieved as could be.

How about you — any flight memories or memorable tales?

3 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Flying

  1. I have a friend who just had the same problem with Delta last week – her flight was inexplicably cancelled and she and her husband were stuck at the Detroit airport (yikes!) for, I think, 2 days.

    Hmmmm. . . .

  2. My flight to California for my nephew’s wedding was an absolute nightmare when I flew in December of … maybe 2008. We were forever getting out of the Detroit airport due to an honest-to-goodness blizzard (but that story is for another time). I was stuck for hours in Arizona. When they could finally get a flight in to take us out, they had to get a crew in, as all their crews already had too many hours for that day. I was doing wheelchair transfers and had to go to the bathroom and needed some food. That was also a nightmare. The flight out of Arizona was so rough that the passenger behind me was sobbing, and she worked for Lockheed-Martin (manufacturers of airplanes. You know it’s rough when they’re in tears!). When I finally arrived in California around 2:00 or 2:30 a.m., it was to an almost empty airport with no one awaiting my arrival. That was another nightmare. I finally crawled into bed around 3:00 a.m. PST, meaning I had been on the move for more than 24 hours. I came away from that experience saying that flying is not quite all it’s cracked up to be. I should say I’ve flown internationally many times without anything like such problems.

  3. My first flight was about the age of 6 – it wasn’t bad, but I liked the train better. I haven’t had any really bad experiences, but I get sick, and borrowing barf bags from the entire row as soon as you get seated is not a way to make friends on an airplane. I hate the proportions, too. When I have to inhale because the stranger next to me exhaled, it gets a little claustrophobic.

    How was the trip to Hawaii? Was it practice for your book tour? 🙂

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