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It's All Good Until You Burn Dinner

Reviving a blog can be sooo hard. Here’s a repost from almost exactly 3 years ago to get things rolling again. And to win  you back…

Last week, Stella and I took a trip to visit my sister in Texas. We had a splendid time at her beautiful home and were treated to a vast array of delicious snacks and treats including layered peanut butter brownies, smoked chicken, carmeled French toast (YUM!), and pineapple salsa. The trip was capped off with a lovely shopping trip and a leisurely tour of the countryside.

But soon enough, it was time to go home and because I’m insanely cheap, I chose least expensive flight back — that happened to take off at 6:35 a.m. (yawn). The night before, I set the alarm for 3:45 a.m. so we’d be up and out the door in time to return our rental car, check our bags, and get through security seamlessly. Once on the plane, I figured we could easily catch up on sleep during our 3-hour flight home.

Upon check-in, the airline wouldn’t allow us get our seat assignments until we were actually at the gate and ready to board, so off we went to Gate G11 where we’d catch our plane. But once we got there, there wasn’t an airline attendant in site. While we waited, we strolled around one of the overpriced shops, snacked on an off-brand granola bar, and twiddled our thumbs until finally at about 6:20, two men showed up at the counter wearing airline vests. I suspected they were airline mechanics filling in for a couple of attendants that called in sick that day.

One of them (I will call Mac) began inviting passengers in the first 5 rows to board so I sprinted over to him and nudged the line of people aside to get our seat assignments. After all, who was more important than Stella and I? We needed seats.

“Sir,” I said as he occasionally tapped letters and numbers out on the keyboard in front of him, “we weren’t allowed to get our seat assignments when we checked in so I guess you’re supposed to give them to us.”

“One moment, Ma’am,” Mac said pretty much ignoring me. The other attendant (I’ll call this guy “Jack”) had disappeared down the tunnel leading to the plane a few minutes earlier but returned and began peering over Mac’s shoulder to view the computer screen in front of him. Then Mac and Jack started arguing, Mac pointed his figure back toward the tunnel and Jack stood shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Then Jack turned and stomped back down the tunnel, returning a few moments later to bark some orders at Mac.

A few people began the boarding process as I tried to stand patiently, watching the dynamics between Mac and Jack. Finally when rows 1-5 had boarded, Mac looked at me again, half rolling his eyes and said, “Now what did you need again? Seat assignments?”

“Yes,” I said stepping forward meekly handing him my pass.

Within a few clicks of the keyboard, Mac printed the small paper showing my seat assignments and handed them to me. Hmmm…that didn’t look so bad. Seats 22C and 22D.

Stella and I quickly grabbed our carry-on bags and I joined the rest of passengers already standing in line. We finally reached Mac who scanned our boarding passes and we headed down the tunnel to the plane.

I think it took about 4 ½ hours to make the trek to the back of the plane to locate our seats but we finally made it there, safe and sound. And awesome… My disgruntled airline buddy, Mac, had given us seats positioned in the very last row of the plane. I’d been in the back seat of a plane before so I knew exactly what this meant…

We crushed our bags under the seat in front of us and sat down and Stella immediately “tested” the seat to check the comfort level by attempting to recline it. I knew better.

“Don’t bother,” I said to Stella. “These seats don’t recline.”

“You’re joking!” she said, pushing the button and giving the seat a hard nudge backward. But of course, it didn’t move. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we were actually sitting upright, but the seat back seamed to tilt forward a little bit so we were practically positioned at a 45 degree angle.

“I shouldn’t have butted into line and asked Mac for seat assignments…” I said under my breath. “He hated me. This was his payback…”

I glanced at the dude directly across the aisle from us and noted that he must have ticked Mac off even worse than I did. Not only was he sitting in the very back like we were, he didn’t have a window. He could only stare at a plastic wall and imagine the clouds and blue sky that floated beyond.

After take-off, Stella and I squirmed about trying to get comfortable – leaning against the seat back, trying to stretch out with the luxurious 7 inches of leg room we were provided. I even asked for a blanket, hoping that would support my ailing back a little but all that did was provide a thin lump that only made the situation worse.

I was exhausted but fidgeted myself into an S-shape which was surprisingly, slightly more comfortable than the V-shape I had been sitting in earlier. I dozed, felt my head bob then whiplash back upward when I realized that not only was I in danger of slumping completely forward, I was on the verge of drooling. I sat bolt upright and felt a wave of nausea overtake me. Not surprising since we were uncomfortable, exhausted, and sitting directly next to the lavatory — which was leaking an occasional scent.

I started digging for my airline cookie ration and desperately chomped away in an attempt to ward off the gagging that was ready to rear it’s ugly head. As I gobbled, I looked at Stella who had resorted to pulling her snack tray down and was resting the top of her head on it. She couldn’t lay her head completely flat because of the lack of space and she looked kind of like a cooked shrimp with blonde hair…curled up and all lumpy.

Windowless Dude had struck up a conversation with the flight attendant and was telling a story about how a plane he had been on the previous year had ripped open mid-flight forcing an emergency landing. I was sort of hoping that our plane would do the same thing if it meant we’d get some fresh air.

Eventually, Stella and I gave up trying to sleep and sat upright in a zombie-like state waiting for the plane to land. Of course it finally did and we eventually walked the 4 ½ hour return hike down the aisle toward the plane’s exit. But you can bet next time we fly, this will NOT be happening. I don’t care if I have to bring a lawn chair along and strap it to the wing – I will not sit in the very back of the plane again as long as I live.

Everyone who has ever flown has had some sort of crummy experience on a plane. What’s yours? Please comment!

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