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Ever have one of those days-- a day where it seems everything goes wrong? For me, that happens whenever I fly. It happens so often that I no longer look forward to flying. It wasn’t always this way-- as a kid I loved to fly. I loved flying so much that I learned to fly a small aircraft, hang gliders, and I have even parachuted. However, commercial airline flight is a completely different beast. Commercial flight is something I almost fear. It has become an exercise in stress and anger management. Take my most recent flight as an example--
It started when I went to check out of the hotel and print my boarding pass on the computer in the hotel conference center. The printer was busted. No problem I thought, I still have plenty of time to drop the rental car off and still make it to the airport in time to make my flight. I packed my luggage in the trunk and headed out to drop off the rental car. When I arrived, they were unable to find a record for the car they gave me. It was, according to their records, supposed to be in another state. I produced a copy of my receipt showing the car clearly listed. The manager quickly appeared and assured me he would correct the issue a quickly as possible, which took another 20 minutes. No problem, I still have plenty of time.
At the airport, it was wait in line to print my boarding pass. Then wait in another to check my baggage. And wait in yet another to go through security. And I never feel “secure” when I go through a security checkpoint. It’s just another one of the many hassles of flying. Take off your shoes and belt. Remove rings and watch. Make sure you don’t have any keys or change in your pockets. Take your laptop out of the bag. Take you coat and hat off. Just to wait in another line to go through the scanner just to put everything back on once you have passed through. Then it’s off to find my gate and get some breakfast before my flight. I still had plenty of time.
While waiting for my flight it was announced that the flight was both overbooked and delayed due to mechanical issue. The airlines offered a $400 travel voucher to anyone who was willing to be bumped to the next flight, which left in 2 hours. I jumped at the chance and immediately signed up on the list. I figured I would get home 2 hours later, have a $400 travel voucher. Plus, the flight I was scheduled to leave on was having mechanical problems, who knows how long it will take to fix, how could I go wrong? I was bumped to the next flight. As a perk, I was given a seat in the emergency exit row, extra legroom. Great, things were starting to go my way.
The flight I had just been bumped from was fixed in under 15 minutes. My new flight was also delayed for mechanical reasons and overbooked. It took them over 2 hours to fix the plane. And once I got on the plane, things got worse.
For starters, every one from flight crew had to ask me if I was capable of performing the duties required to sit in an emergency exit row. Actually, I was asked twice before I even enter the plane. I found this funny because I looked like an Olympic athlete compared with the two people sitting next to me. Apparently they wanted to be sure. Then, the child sitting in the seat behind me couldn’t stop kicking the back of my seat. I had seen him and his parents while I was waiting for the flight. They were feeding him energy drinks and chocolate candy bars right before the flight. Now he was practicing his karate kicks on the back of my chair. I thought about saying something to his parents, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good. Containing that much caffeine and chocolate-fueled energy was like trying to stop a volcano from blowing-- impossible.
To make my flight even less enjoyable, the woman on the left of me was a talker. Just couldn’t stop talking. I was hoping to grab a nap on the flight, but the kid behind me made sure that wasn’t going to happen. Kick, kick, kick. This was going to be a long flight. And not only was the woman next to me a talker, she got out a pen and note pad so she could take notes on our conversation. Whoa, too weird-- I’ve been interviewed before but never by the person sitting next to me on a flight.
About 2 hours into the flight we hit turbulence, which didn’t bother me at all. The same can’t be said of the child in the seat behind me. Apparently energy drinks and chocolate when combined with rough air are as difficult to contain as a volcano. He didn’t even come close to grabbing the airsickness bag. I knew I shouldn’t have stuffed my coat under my seat. Great, now my jacket is covered in vomit, the woman next to me won’t stop talking and the kid who just puked was starting to cry because he feels sick. Typical flight.
After we arrive I find out my luggage is lost. At least this time my luggage didn’t get more frequent flyer miles then I did, it was just misplaced. Still took them another hour to find it. Yup, I hate to fly. It’s the worst. And just when I start thinking this has been the worst day ever I am reminded that it doesn’t even come close to some of the worst days I have had.
My flight, as bad as it was, was nothing compared to the day the doctor told my wife and I that she had mesothelioma cancer. It was nothing compared to the flights my wife and I took to Boston to see Dr. David Sugarbaker for treatment. Nor could all the time I spent waiting in lines at the airport compare to waiting in the hospital for hours and hours to hear from a doctor how my wife was doing during surgery. As bad as this flight was, it was nothing compared to what a diagnosis of cancer feels like. So, every time I think I am having a bad day, I just remember how bad some of the days I have experienced have been. And no matter how bad things get, they can always get worse. And with that being said, I’m looking forward to my next flight. I’m sure it will give me something to complain about until I step back and put everything into perspective.
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