Airplane Adventures

Many years ago a client and I had a challenge to each read Hawaii by James Michener before a trip to Maui.  The description of the ship voyage from Boston around the tip of South America to Maui and the space that passengers were allotted made me vow to never complain about air travel.  So the following is not complaining, just a detailing of our adventure.

We left the house at 5:15 a.m. so that we would be at the airport 3 hours ahead. All the industry talk for the last couple of months has been about how long the security lines at MSP have been due to re-vamping of the system.  Well, I’m here to tell you that they are now re-vamped and 3 hours is about 2 hours too long.  Thank goodness for solitaire on my laptop and Candy Crush on YA’s phone.

Discount ticketing meant we had 3 flights and I was on edge a little about flights departing late. Luckily our first flight went off without a hitch.  When we got to Dallas our connecting gate was the farthest gate from our arrival gate.  We had carry-on luggage so it was a long haul.  But that flight was on time as well.  So far so good.

Then we got to Miami, where things started to get interesting. Again our two gates were really far apart (no moving sidewalks in Miami).  Then a few minutes before boarding came the announcement about maintenance.  Then came the announcement that they were taking our plane out of service and were looking for a new plane.  Then came the announcement that they found a plane but it was at a different gate – the one we had originally arrived at earlier in the afternoon – on the other side of the airport!  Carry-on luggage was getting really heavy at this point.

The thing that kept us going was that this was our last flight of the day so we didn’t have to worry about missing a connecting flight. It was a bumpy ride and about 2/3 through the flight, a woman got sick and they asked for medical assistance.  YA thinks the woman was having a panic attack – they brought on a paramedic when we arrived, but didn’t ask us to stay seated while she was taken off the plane (yes, I’ve had that happen).

We landed in Aruba at 10:15 p.m. making a 17-hour travel day. But compared to 6 weeks in a cramped, damp space on a rocking ship – NO PROBLEM!

Tell me one of your travel adventure stories!

25 thoughts on “Airplane Adventures”

  1. I’m not a traveler very often. On the few occasions I’ve gone by air, it was uneventful for the most part. I do remember one trip on which I had a cold, and the change in cabin pressure as we descended for the landing caused considerable pain. And it was a trip where I had to change planes, so after going through the first landing I had to get on another plane and go through the same thing a second time. I couldn’t hear out of one ear for about a week afterwards. But, of course,
    I have to consider myself quite lucky that that’s the worst thing I’ve endured.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda – coming home from Tahiti many years ago, I went through something similar. Had to take off and land three times with what turned out to be a ruptured ear drum. Had no meds with me and the pain was awful. Ended up with bilateral ear infections plus a sinus infection. I couldn’t hear out of my left ear for nearly a month. Since then I never fly without taking Sudafed first.

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        1. PJ – It does help some. I take the short acting kind (4 – 6 hours) about 30 minutes before departure and, if necessary, again about 30 minutes before landing.

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  2. I wish my dad would have been able to tell me more about what it was like to be a waist gunner in a B-17 bomber in raids over France and Germany in the Second World War.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On our trip to Wales, like you, Sherrilee, we got to the airport earlier than we needed to. That was okay- we were excited and could relax, secure in the knowledge that we could be at the gate in plenty of time. We found an area where we could perch and connect online. While we waited, I noticed an ATM that also made currency exchange, so I thought I might as well take advantage of that. First glitch of the trip was that the machine rejected my request for UK currency. Was that going to be a problem? Were we going to be in Wales without cash? I didn’t figure it out until we were on the plane, but I think, with the conversion rate at the time, I was asking for more cash than the card allows as a daily limit but the ATM provided no explanation, just a rejection.

    Our flight across the Atlantic was uneventful. We had a connection in Amsterdam and then boarded a smaller plane for Cardiff. Once we landed in Cardiff and retrieved our luggage, I found an ATM, asked for a smaller amount of cash, and it worked. Then we went to the rental car office. At this point, with stopovers, we had been traveling for maybe 12 hours.

    The car rental office couldn’t find our car reservation and they had no cars unspoken for. We stood at the rental desk for at least 3 hours while the agent called around and tried various maneuvers and subterfuges to find us a car. I don’t remember what ultimately did the trick, but we eventually were given a car. I declined the insurance, being at that time under the impression that my auto policies covered car rentals. That would prove to be mistaken, as I discovered when I damaged the passenger-side mirror on a stone wall our second day out. It’s hard to judge the parameters of an unfamiliar car when you’re sitting on the side opposite from what is customary.

    We had a wonderful 10 days exploring Wales, though driving was fairly terrifying and I would go to bed each night with my hands cramped and aching from gripping the steering wheel.

    When it came time to return home, we flew out of Cardiff with little difficulty and once again had a stop off in Amsterdam. When we finally were allowed to board and were preparing for take off, the pilot came on the address system to tell us that they had detected a problem with one of the lavatories and there would be a delay while they sorted it out. This was a big plane and it was full. There were four lavatories on board, but apparently flying with three in operation was unacceptable. We sat on the tarmac for about 6 hours while successive crews came and went. Fortunately, the passengers took it in stride and there were no strident outbursts.

    So after what had already been a very long day traveling, we finally took off. When we arrived back in Minneapolis, our luggage was not on the carousel. It continued traveling around the country, finally arriving on our doorstep a couple of days later.

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    1. I completely understand the cramped hands from driving around on the other side of the road from what you’re used to. Drove once on Grand Cayman with a client and it scared the bejezzus out of me!

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  4. About 10 years ago, my sister won a trip to Hawaii; a large condo on the Big Island. She invited husband and me, my mom and her husband, and our oldest daughter to go along. Our son-in-law offered to get us our flight using frequent flyer miles. We jumped at the offer. We are not seasoned travelers and any help was welcome. He got our tickets and, to our dismay, our route took us from MSP to Newark and then non-stop to Honolulu. It was a long, long day of travel and we will be pleased to never see the Newark airport again, but the trip as a whole made the whole thing well worthwhile. Our return flight was more direct.

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    1. I have a good Hawaii one as well. When YA was 6, I had enough frequent flyer miles for a trip to Hawaii and also had done some programs there so had some favors to call in. In order to use the frequent flyer miles we had to fly from Minneapolis to St Louis to Maui. Then because the dates I could get good discounted rooms were limited, we had to go from Maui to Honolulu to the Big Island. Three days later went from the Big Island back to Maui so at least our eventual return flight went from Maui to St Louis to Minneapolis and was much easier.

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  5. When we left for Europe in 2016, we flew out of Bismarck, and missed our flight from MPLS to Paris by minutes because of a low cloud ceiling in MPLS. Our son and Dil got to Paris without us. We got a flight later that night to Amsterdam. In Paris, our Dil’s ticket was messed up, and she had to take a later flight to Hamburg than our son. So, even though we were all supposed to fly together, at one point Husband and I were in Amsterdam, son was in Hamburg, and Dil was in Paris. We all ended up in Hamburg just two hours later than planned. That was a really long day.

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  6. Once when daughter was in Grade 7, we flew from MPLS to Montreal. Daughter had a terrible seat at the back of the plane with no window. The nice Air Canada flight attendant moved her to an empty seat in First Class once the plane took off.

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    1. YA flew a few times to St. Louis to visit Nonny when she was younger. The inflight staff were always very nice to her but she was irritated by the attention. She thought she was worldly enough to not have to be babied!

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  7. We were in Hawaii, the Big Island, for two weeks in 1991, and my sister came too. Second week our 10-year-old son went home for a week with Auntie Sue, and we got a REAL vacation – spent one day roaming around the island in rental car, ended up in the lovely green back-country valleys. Stopped at a thrift shop in a tiny town off the main road, bought a copy of Michener’s Hawaii, and they cashier was an old guy who had come for a vacation 6 months after his wife died, never went back! Had his kids ship his stuff there…

    Let’s see, what was the question?

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  8. There have been numerous times when my flight has been delayed by anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours due to various reasons. The majority of these delays have been nuisance, a few have actually cut down on layover time during multi-leg trips, a few have made for too close for comfort connections. Two of these stand out in my mind. Back in the early 2000s (before the explosion of cell phones) a tour company booked a friend and I on a NW flight from MSP to NYC to Amsterdam, and finally Budapest. At the gate we discovered another NW flight direct from MSP to Amsterdam at the same time and wished we were on that one. Turns out that our flight was delayed due to mechanical issues and we would have missed our connection in NYC. The details are fuzzy but somehow we were able to get on the direct flight but our bags did not. Thankfully they did arrive the next day. More recently, I nearly missed a flight to India. I travel with three friends from Tucson & Albuquerque and usually for an overseas trip, we fly to the gateway city a day early to make sure we don’t miss our flight. This time we decided not to because the flight to India departed very late.We all had flights due to land in NYC around 6PM which would leave us a 4 hour cushion. I should know better when flying in the winter that delays are almost inevitable. My flight was delayed by several hours and my arrival at JFK would barely be in time. The flight took longer than expected and I was sweating bullets by the time the plane landed. There were frantic texts between me and my friends letting them know my progress. First, I was near the back of the plane and was slow deplaning. Then it was a long walk to the Skytrain. The train did come quickly but stopped shortly after leaving the terminal due to mechanical issues. Fortunately it was underway again in about 3 minutes. My terminal was the last stop (of course). My friends texted that they would not let the crew close the door before I got there. Once in the terminal, I literally ran to the gate, which was deserted except for the gate agent and my loyal friends. I was exhausted but relieved. Turns out I wasn’t the last person on the plane – three more people boarded after me and we didn’t leave the gate for at least 10 minutes after that. It was hard to wind down after all of that but I did manage a couple hours of sleep on the way to Delhi.

    On a positive note: My trip to Brazil last year entailed 13 separate flight segments total. And a recent trip to SE Asia entailed 11 separate flight segments. For both trips, my luggage miraculously followed me everywhere. Sometimes the system really does work!!

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  9. On my last trip to Denmark, I had chosen a direct flight from Chicago to Copenhagen, so I first had to get to Chicago. On the evening of my departure from Mpls/St. Paul there was a torrential downpour. My plane, full of people, sat on the tarmac and waited as the minutes ticked by and I got progressively more worried that I’d miss my connecting flight in Chicago. I had a little less than two hours of wiggle room.

    Finally, the rain slowed, and we all drew a sigh of relief. That’s when it was announced over the plane’s intercom that we were now not allowed to depart due to Air Force Two which was poised to take off, but was waiting for Joe Biden to arrive. He had been in Minneapolis for a fund raiser and had been delayed in returning to his plane due to the rain. By the time Biden finally arrived, and Air Force Two took off, we had been sitting on the tarmac for almost two hours.

    As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one in trouble. A group of passengers were on their way to connect with a charter flight that was going to take them to the departure point for some exotic cruise. I don’t recall, now, where they were going, but it was a once in a lifetime sort of deal.

    We all missed our connecting flights. For me it turned out to not be a huge deal, just a 24 hour delay. I was booked on the next day’s flight to Copenhagen. All I needed to do was find myself a motel room for the night and get word to my sister that I wouldn’t be arriving until the following day. For the folks going on the cruise it was far worse. Because it had been their responsibility to get to Chicago in time for the charter flight, and because they had opted to not buy travel insurance, they had essentially paid for a cruise they wouldn’t be able to go on. They were not happy campers. I don’t know if they were Democrats or Republicans, but I do know that none of us were too happy with Joe Biden that evening.

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  10. First year out of college I was flying home for Christmas from San Francisco. I somehow dropped my ticket in the terminal, and had no idea what to do. This was before 1970, before computer schedules and e-tickets… I wish I could remember the details, but Whomever I asked for help was able to get me on that plane, bless their heart.

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  11. That is certainly a story to remember 🙂 But thanks for sharing! haha As for a travel story… oh boy… My husband and I were flying from Israel to Switzerland a few years ago and during the entire flight, about 10 people stood in the aisle to talk to their friends that just so happened to be seated in our general vicinity. One guy kept on backing into my husband who was seated next to the aisle. I could not stop laughing because it really seemed like no big deal to anyone else on the flight but it would have certainly been frowned upon in other parts of the world. Getting rear ended quite often made for a long flight as well as the extremely loud talking that was going on around us, but we just laughed at the obscurity of the scene. We will definitely never forget the ridiculousness of that flight. 😀

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