in the aeroplane over the sea

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.

Oooookay.

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?

12 Responses to “in the aeroplane over the sea”

  1. that is ridiculous. with all the mergers and shit going on what airline is what airline anymore anyway? dude. i have NEVER won the armrest battle. mainly because i refuse to claim it. or i’m in the middle, determined to have at least ONE, then i have to get up to let someone in, who gets to sit down before me and plop an elbow down on the armrest i’ve hypothetically pissed all over.

  2. The whole not knowing what airline you’re flying on scares me. There have been recent studies that show that those smaller airlines who are rented out by the bigger carriers aren’t as safe as planes run by the big carriers.

    I’m flying back to the mitten this Friday out of Fargo. I’m totally going to end up on some tiny plane rented by United. Ugh.

  3. Never fear, friend! Crag and I are on a crusade to take down the American/Northwest/BritishAirways conglomerate.

    Well, okay maybe not TAKE THEM DOWN, which is a horrible, awful plane metaphor (yikes) but to make them feel the wrath of our consumer power, for they were the ones responsible for making us stand in a line for 9 consecutive hours on our honeymoon and miss Christmas and spend around $3 million more than we had budgeted because they stranded us in the most expensive city on earth.

    So yeah. We’ve got them in our sights, and flying sucks (but is still a luxury and gets me to those that I love so I can’t hate on it too much).

  4. Oh, feck. I will never, ever, not in my life ever again fly American Airlines. Those mother effers screwed me one too many times.

    The last straw, I waited 5 hours(!) in the airport so that they could de-board the plane we were supposed to take, which WAS SITTING RIGHT THERE at the terminal WITH PEOPLE TRAPPED INSIDE the whole time. Their excuse: someone on board needed an oxygen tank and they only had one on board so they had to wait for another plane to arrive from Texas with an extra oxygen tank. Because there aren’t any extras anywhere in an entire international airport that you can borrow?!

    Oh, yeah, and when they finally let everyone off of that plane, there wasn’t a SINGLE person who was actually using an oxygen tank or even in a wheelchair. Because it was such a big emergency and all (and no, there was never an emergency vehicle that drove up to the plane to let anyone out that way, either. I know. I was watching because I wanted to get ON the damn plane.

    Why don’t we have a high-speed rail system again? I know I would use it.

  5. Brutal. I’ve been there, with the gross cold bread bits that you paid nearly $10 for. Airport food is the WORST and yet I somehow manage to block it out since I’m always a bit excited about flying and somehow thing it’ll be glamorous. There is nothing glamorous about it.
    Recently in Ontario, I had a chocie between a one-hour flight and a 4.5h train ride and I so gladly took the train. When you cut out the security lineups etc. it almost took the same amount of time in the end but I was comfortable and peaceful.

  6. ha ha ha I’m so sorry you had so much plane trouble. I usually just have someone spill their drink all over me when I’m on a plane. That’s my forte. We could have been quite the duo! Me, covered in red wine, you eating your awful sandwich… :)

  7. Orrrrrrr…working for months on a presentation and getting to NYC only to vomit for 24 hours straight from airport turkey sandwich and miss presentation and call your mama crying to come get you because you are DYINGGGGGG. (she didn’t.)

  8. Oh, boo hoo. Try a 3 hour delay in Japiur, India, with a rabid case of “Delhi Belly.” Or, being trapped on an 8 hours flight from Delhi to Germany with the same, yet different case of “Delhi Belly.” Oh, the memories of international travel. *sigh*

  9. This makes me look forward to my 8 hour flight on Saturday with Aus’ budget airline and also to our return trip home which will be 15 hours, but on one of the rad new A380 super gigantor planes.

    Also, yay, for Neutral Milk Hotel!

  10. I totally hear you about this. I just got back from Mexico, and first off, customs is freaking dumb and the Miami airport makes me want to hurt myself. Second, I decided to get a margarita while waiting for my flight out of Cancun.. which I later realized was 180 pesos.. so like, $16 USD? Nuts. So mad I paid that for a DRINK. I won’t even get into the food.

  11. 1. Midwest Air was known as 1 of the finest regional carriers in/out of Chicago before Frontier merger
    2. Chicago airport, hopefully Midway, has a Potbelly’s RIGHT there in the terminal, and they serve a brekkie sammie, IIRC. It’s a couple of bucks more than the one OUTSIDE of MDW, but I don’t think you wanna walk in the middle of Cicero.

    Next time, check up on Flyertalk as they cover ALL airport food, even down in Mexico City Airport, which, btw, can be shocking for its bad tacos.

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