I am pretty much not a fan of international travel, mostly because it has to be by plane. I hate flying.
5am Florence, Italy- I got to the airport at the crack of dawn and had to go through the line twice because my hand luggage was over the limit, which she said was 8 kilos but I couldn’t find anywhere that this was written down. I did the Ryanair shuffle, putting lots of stuff in my purse and my coat. (yeah I know, still in the plane, but rules are rules.) The second time through, I think because she hated my “let’s get through this together” smile as much as I did she then told me that she thought my bag, which has always met carry on rules before, was too big. “They may tell you at the gate that it’s too large,” she said, implying with a look that I was foolish to take the chance. Extra bags mean extra money for the airline. For carrying the same piece of luggage in a different place on the plane. Maybe she gets a commission.
I forgot my sunglasses in the plastic bin at the security check because I was busy trying to remember my computer and coat and passport and didn’t notice that I didn’t have my glasses till I was out of the area. Not my fault totally, it was dark out yet people.
The lady at the gate frowned at my hand luggage, visually measuring it and finding it “piu grande.” I channeled my inner Italian and said it has been flying as cabin luggage for years and no one has questioned it. She rolled her eyes as she let it through, probably mentally writing the speech she will give when my piece of luggage causes the plane to crash. The funniest part was that they still took away all our hand luggage and stowed it below anyway, for free.
When I looked out the window next to my seat all I could see was prop (tiny plane) and decided this was good. When it inevitably fell off in mid-flight I wouldn’t feel a thing and for once I’d be the first to go.
The lady in the seat next to me closed her eyes and crossed herself as we took off. God must have talked to her because as soon as we were level she took out her 2012 calendar and started planning. Even that couldn’t comfort me as I got a National Geographic view of the Dolomites as we flew over, barely missing the peaks. Good news is I got to see snow up close and personal.
9am Munich, Germany- The passport check guy (not to be confused with the security check people) asked a bunch of seemingly innocent questions designed to get me to incriminate myself. Of what I don’t know. He was fascinated by the Italian spelling of Philadelphia, which has no ph’s, Filadelfia. He said weird, I said no, Italian. He gave me a piercing look, did something on his computer and let me go. I’m probably tagged for life as a flight risk, or at least someone with a crappy sense of humor.
The security check (handled by Lufthansa) was handled by two women who made me feel as if I had done something wrong, or was on the verge of doing something wrong, or simply had a bad thought that one time and this would stop me from getting on my plane. (In their defense [which I hate to do, but fair is fair] the problems in Belgium and Italy probably making everyone hypersensitive right now. Although neither incident happened in an airport, or on a plane, or even under a flight plan.) She asked me lots of questions about my luggage: who packed it, where was it after it was packed and who was with it? Apparently I should wait till the last moment to pack, or sleep with my suitcase until I leave. She finally let me through, although her look said it was against her better judgment.
It’s been such a great morning, I can hardly wait for the transatlantic part to start. To celebrate I bought an outrageously expensive and therefore totally American coffee once they had me sequestered at the gate. What else could I do?
12 noon Somewhere over the Atlantic- A minor miracle as I was one of the first people in economy class to board. My cabin luggage was stowed directly above me and my seatmates were sleepers. My friend who used to work at a place that supplied parts for the Airbus A330 says they are the best planes in the air. I was seriously hoping that was the case as I watched the overhead luggage bins vibrate back and forth. Almost 10 hours in the air meant plenty of time for movies…something I haven’t seen since I left the States. (well in English, I don’t think watching a movie in Swedish counts cuz I don’t understand a single word they say)
Funny thing, each seat has its own screen on the seat back in front of it so each passenger can watch whatever they want whenever they want. Awesome. And to buy a pair of cheap ass ear buds (which they recommend on their announcements to “keep for use on future flights with US Airways!“) it’s only 4 euros or 5 dollars. Lucky me I had my own on my ipod so I didn’t have to buy them. Waste of money.
I will admit to being incredibly tired and unable to sleep, so I watched three movies. I think that I changed a bit in the last year. Something happened that never, ever happens to me. I cried. Yes, watching a movie. I didn’t cry during Black Swan, but I seriously cried during My Life in Ruins, a cheesy comedy that shouldn’t make anyone cry. That story, my friends, will have to wait till another day, because I’m pretty sure that typing the things I was feeling at that moment would make me cry again. Not something I want to do at Gate C23 at the Philadelphia airport. The last movie I watched was something with penguins and Jim Carey…I have no idea why I watched it.
4pm Philadelphia, PA - I could blame my emotional state on new batch of security and passport checks I had to endure here, but truthfully it’s been such a long day that I’m pretty numb to the whole thing. I think I could be cool with just about anything except someone trying to wrestle my bags out of my hand for “further inspection.” Gotta draw the line somewhere, and that’s my somewhere. I gave the little Agricultural Products sniffing dog a dirty look and it bypassed my bags completely. Good to know I can intimidate a miniature daschund wearing a uniform. That’s right, wearing a little jacket with just enough room for the words “Agricultural Products Agent.” Must be why they chose a daschund. Looooong body.
Here’s hoping that the last leg of the flight is uneventful, and that my parents show up to get me. I was unable to remind them as they are “at the cabin.”
8pm Minneapolis,MN - I made it. I have no energy to write more than that. It’s all that matters. My parents got me at the airport and we drove home without incident. Life is good.