When I booked my tickets to Detroit, the email confirmation read “Republic Airlines on behalf of United.” This made me frown slightly, for Republic is not among the airlines at my tiny Santa Barbara regional airport, nevermind the fact that I’ve never even heard of such a company. So when I arrived at the airport I figured the United counter was my best bet. I swiped my card at the kiosk and the screen told me to go check in at Frontier Airlines.
Sure, why not.
While I was standing in line to check my bag at Frontier Airlines, I overheard a lady from the Alaskan Air counter ask a traveler in the terminal if her name is Lyn. “I’m Lyn,” I called to her, and she brought over the boarding passes for my two flights. “You could have checked in with me!” she mock-scolded.
“Okay?” I said.
Later, as the man at the gate scanned my pass and handed me the stub, he looked me in the eye and said, “Go through the doors and to the left. Look for the plane that has ‘Midwest Airlines’ painted on it.”
“Okay?” I replied.
It was only when I was strapped into the plane that I noticed my tickets had “British Airways” printed on them.
It was no surprise, then, when I got to the gate for my connecting flight in Denver and saw through the plate glass window that I was about to board an Air Liban S.A.L. plane.
Fine, fine, I was just kidding about that last part. But I’m still not quite sure what airline I technically flew on.
Air travel is crazy, and not in the drunken fist-pumping “WOOOOOO!” way. I think 98.30934% of the trouble comes from fellow passengers, and the proximity of them. I may come from a relatively open, touchy-feely family, but at heart I will always be an only child who requires distance and space from the rest of the humanity. Because the rest of humanity tend to do things like blatantly steal your window seat, leaving you stuck in the aisle, and then conquer your armrest with their sharp pointy elbows, too.
I’ll never forgive that lady. Whoever she was.
Air travel also finds other ways to wear you down. One of the things I hate the most is being subjected to whatever food is being offered inside whichever terminal you happen to be trapped in. Coming back, I was on a brief layover in Chicago, and my flight was about to board. I must have walked up and down the hall three times, desperately scanning for something tasty. It was 10:00 a.m., I had been awake since 3:00 a.m., and I was starving. But I was also unwilling to pay good money for something I didn’t actually want to eat. I didn’t want pizza, I didn’t want a hot dog. I didn’t want gross McDonald’s. I didn’t want an old salad. I didn’t want a stupid stale muffin, I didn’t want a mushy-looking granola-yogurt thing in a plastic cup. I mean, damn.
Finally, in desperation, I paid over $8.00 for a turkey sandwich from a to-go stand. I dragged my sorry ass onto the plane and sat down in my seat, shaking with hunger. I couldn’t wait any longer to eat so I ripped it open and started chowing down. But get this: the bread was gross. It was dry, hard, and cold. So I just ate the middle of the sandwich: turkey and swiss and semi-limp lettuce. I could feel my seatmate watching me in horror out of the corners of her eyes as I hunched over the discarded triangles of bread on my lap, licking cold ranch dressing off of my fingers.
Not my finest moment.
But at least that’s all done and over with, right? At least I can get back to my nice, familiar old routine. With tasty meals inside my comfortable home.
Then again, maybe not. Gazing up at the mountain of work in front of me this morning is making me wish I was back in the air again.
Maybe on Lufthansa this time?