Have you traveled on an airplane since Covid? I hadn’t, not until last week. It was an airline I’ve never flown, but it’s the worst trip I’ve ever taken. Ever! It was that bad!
I was flying to Texas to see family. I had a delay, but I made it to my next flight on time. Thank goodness! But going home to Ohio . . . it was awful! Here’s the story of that flight, and what I learned.
Part 1 – Delays, Cancellation, and Falling Apart: It all started with one delay. It rolled through the whole afternoon. Four hours later we finally boarded the plane. We made it out to the runway, sat there for like 15 minutes, then returned to the airport. It was so depressing. An hour later my flight was cancelled.
I thought I was handling it. I read my kindle all afternoon, snacked on popcorn, and made jokes about sleeping in the airport. It all fell apart when I was waiting in line for fast food that wasn’t. When I finally got mine, there was no place to sit and eat.
I was at the end of my rope, close to tears. That’s when my husband texted me some great advice. He said I should get a room for the night. I listened. I’m glad I did. The 6 or 7 hours of sleep helped me get through the next day. Would you believe it was even worse?
Things I Did Right:
1. Bringing my kindle so I’d have something to do.
2. Taking a walk every hour or so. Exercise is always a good thing.
3. I listened when my husband had a better option.
Things I Did Wrong:
1. I ate junk food. It was popcorn, but it didn’t fuel my body. It let me fall apart. Next time – I’ll eat a better lunch and dinner, so my body’s fueled for speed bumps. They’re all over the airport.
2. I planned to sleep there. I’m a diabetic with insulin shots and pills to take. Stress and lack of sleep will increase my blood sugar level. That’s a terrible thing for me. Next time – I’ll look for a hotel as soon as my flight is cancelled. Self-care is important when navigating an airport.
Part 2 – More Delays, A Missed Flight, and A Lost Phone: The next day, well, it got even worse. It was a downhill slide that didn’t stop until I got back to Detroit at 10:00PM.
It started with an early wake-up call. My alarm got me up at 5:30 so I could be at the airport by 6:00AM. I thought my flight was at 8. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time. If you know me, you know that I’m not an early bird. My worst nightmare – waking up at 8 and missing my flight.
By the time I arrived at the airport and grabbed a light breakfast, OK, Chex Mix, my flight time moved back to 10:10AM. I wished they’d told me earlier. I would have slept another 2 hours. But I thought let it go.
Within 10-15 minutes, someone stopped to chat. She remembered me from the night before and asked why I was there so early. Would you believe my flight was delayed the night before, after I left the airport? My airline, whom I won’t identify, and whom I will never fly again EVER, didn’t message me. URGH!
So I settled back into my kindle and waited. At 9:30 . . . nothing. At 10 . . . the flight was delayed, again. I kept reading. I tried to remain calm and focused. Thank goodness I got at least 6 hours of sleep! I also picked up some popcorn to get me through. It helped, a little.
At 11:10 . . . nothing. No change, and my plane had been sitting outside since it cancelled the night before. I watched and waited. About 11:30 the airline announced we’d be leaving soon. I wondered when soon would come . . . this afternoon . . . this evening . . . maybe tomorrow?!
There was another flight arriving from Dallas, departing again in the gate next door. The airline announced they’d be leaving as soon as their plane arrived, and, prepped for departure again. They also announced anyone who had early connecting flights leaving before 12 should speak to the desk. Mine left at 1:15. I knew it’d be close, but I thought I’d be safe. NOT!
We finally left at 12:30 after sitting on the runway for 30 minutes. There were 4 planes ahead of us. The flight to Dallas took 1 hour and 30 minutes. TROUBLE AGAIN! My flight left without me!
By the time we finally took off, I was hangry. I’d gone through worry over my next flight, plus hunger. Chex Mix and popcorn won’t keep you going when you’re stressed out.
Then the airlines did it. They served first class. I was the row behind, and I got nothing. They cancelled my flight and made me pay for a hotel room, but they couldn’t give me a coke and pretzels. URGH! When they finally did, I was the last one served. Surprisingly the first-class flight attendant could take away my trash – even though she couldn’t serve me. URGH again!
I did make friends with a family from 1st class. I’m not a frequent flier so I asked them what to do. They said go to the nearest gate with an airline employee. Any of them could reschedule me.
The first employee sent me to gate 28. No one was there. Figures! Then I ran into my favorite flight attendant from 1st class. At least she pointed out a gate, and it had someone there. SAVED!
I went over, got my flight changed, and thought I was on the road to recovery. I found my gate, then stopped to find a place to eat. I lucked out! I had the best waitress, best food . . . but that’s when disaster struck. AGAIN!
I settled in with my drink, food on the way. I had time to text my husband my new flight information. The only problem . . . NO PHONE. I made myself sit still. With my heart pounding and panic gushing through me, I could barely do it once, let alone twice.
After the 2nd search, my waitress came back. She asked if I was OK. I said no. That my phone was gone. It was all I could do not to cry. I didn’t have my food yet. She offered to let me go look. I thought for 2 seconds, then decided I needed to sit, to eat. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I needed food, badly, and I needed to gather my composure.
Part 3 –The Search and My Return Home: After lunch, I began the search for my phone. First up – finding the lost and found. My waitress couldn’t help, but I remembered seeing an airline information room.
I stopped by a gate along the way and asked the attendant to try my phone. It rang, but no one answered. His guess, my phone got turned into a supervisor who locked it away.
My next stop, the airline information room . . . it was absolutely useless. They couldn’t help with the lost phone or with calling my husband. But at least they gave me the terminal and gate number for the lost and found.
I made it to the right terminal, the right gate, but the wrong room for the lost and found. Would you believe it was next door? They hadn’t gotten in any phones all day either. I asked to make a call but wound up going next door again. Do you ever feel like you’re chasing your tail?
I finally made my call. My hero made sure I gave my husband the flight number, passed me a couple tissues, and looked up the arrival time for Detroit. She brushed off my thanks, but I repeated it. Kindness means the most when your life is just plain horrible.
I fought to keep back tears during the call. Afterwards I took a minute to gather myself together, to figure out what to do next. I had 2 hours before my flight. I decided to take a few minutes to backtrack to see if I could find my phone. Nothing, but walking off anxiety helped. So did a kind supervisor who checked her gates. Kindness makes everything easier.
It was time to head to the gate. I was over an hour early. My flight wasn’t on the screen, so I settled in to wait, and to read. Finally about 30 minutes before my flight, the screen lit up . . . Denver. Not Detroit! I panicked!
I ran to the nearest attendant for help. He said I had time, then sent me on to the right gate. I had another 30 minutes to wait. Another delay, and the gates changed on me. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever get home.
When I finally got on that last plane, I was thrilled! I was in the back row of an airbus, but I didn’t care. I was finally going home after 2 days of delays and cancellations. My husband was in Detroit, waiting on me. I got in at 10PM, then home to Wapak at midnight. My trip was finally over! The next one – I’m driving!
Things I Did Right:
1. Eating a good meal, especially after I’d lost my phone.
2. Retracing my steps to find it. Exercise is good for your body and your brain.
3. Repaying kindness with a sincere thank-you.
Things I Did Wrong:
1. I carried my phone in my hand when I got into Dallas. Next time – I’ll keep it in my bag. Losing things is too easy when you’re stressed out.
2. When I left the gate with my new flight, I didn’t double check to see if I’d left anything out. Next time – I’ll make sure I have everything in my bag, before I take a step in any direction.
3. Losing my phone upset me. Next time – I’ll start looking for that silver lining sooner. I got a new phone, and it’s better than my old one.
1. I will stay away from small airports. They’re having trouble staffing their flights. Next time – If I’m flying into Hobby, I’ll take Southwest. It’s their Houston hub.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!