It was the longest wait of my life. Well, probably not. It just felt that way.
There I was, all ready for the Italian adventure I had planned and saved for for more than a year, and I was stalled, literally, on the runway. I’ve written about travel woes before (See: “What can go wrong…..“), but nothing quite compares to the teeth-grinding aggravation brought on by airlines and airports everywhere.
I should point out that I’m the type of traveler who has her shoes off and laptop out before getting to the end of the security line, so I’m slightly impatient to begin with.
OK…probably more than slightly.
The first insult was the 20 minutes the US Airways express carrier took to return my carry-on after they insisted I gate-check it. Five minutes…OK. Ten minutes…maybe…if there’s a lot of people. But 20, for a teeny, tiny plane? I can pack faster than that.
The extra insult was that as a result, I didn’t have time to stop for a snack or the bathroom before boarding my next, six-hour flight.
And because that flight sat on the runway at Philadelphia International Airport and waited for 25 other planes to take off for almost two hours, I came to really, really regret that oversight. I was also squeezed into a seat so tiny it could barely contain my hips or my 5-foot-3-inch legs. And while I could lose 10 pounds or so, I’m not that big. I hope.
I’m just happy that it didn’t turn into one of those stuck-on-the-tarmac-for-8-hours stories. Although…I do have a plan if something like that ever happens to me: asthma attack. That sounds bad, I know, but I really do have asthma, and the stress of that situation could easily trigger it. So I wouldn’t really be faking…..
Then, when I finally arrived for my layover in Madrid, it was to spend more than an hour looking for my regional carrier, only to find that it was in a completely different terminal. Signs would have helped.
And that was only getting to Florence.
Getting home…well, let me just say that it was the first time I’ve ever shown up for a flight before the airport was actually open. Or ever been to an airport where you at couldn’t at least sit inside the main terminal. Thank goodness my husband, John, was with me or sitting outside in the dark at 4:30 a.m. would have been really, really scary.
Who am I kidding? It was still scary.
So was the flight back to Philly. I didn’t know that planes that only had six columns of seats could make it across the ocean. (I have no idea which of these planes it was. 737? 757? All I know was that it was tiny.) I mean, if it’s the same size plane that I might take to Atlanta or Houston from D.C., it doesn’t seem like it should go from Amsterdam to Philly. I found myself holding my breath and crossing my fingers with each bout of turbulence and grinding of the engine. And saying a lot of “Hail Marys.”
I was never so happy to set foot on solid ground.
And then they lost my husband’s suitcase. Oh well, at least it didn’t come back looking like mine did after a trip to Mexico: