In honor of Ms Pants imminent departure, I will recount
The Trip From Hell,
I'm hoping for your basic magical effect here, where everything that I name herein is thereby vanquished, and cannot occur again.
About five years ago my husband spent part of the summer at an Irish language workshop in Galway.
We arranged for my daughter and me to join him there afterwards, travel around a while seeing family, and fly back together.
He (ahem) set up the trip through a travel agent.
She set us up to fly out of SF (in August) to LA to Dublin.
Well, we got up before dawn and drove to San Francisco Airport for an early morning flight .
An hour away, instead of 20 minutes to get to Oakland.
(Thank you travel agent lady)
SFO was totally fogged in.
(Oakland doesn't get the fog. Thank you again, oh highly trained travel professional. But I digress.)
Foight is delayed.
I get to go talk to the people at the desk about it.
Flight keeps being delayed.
American, despite my constant nagging — which meant waiting through a long line each time — refuses to try put us on other flights, which somehow seemed to be leaving, and kept saying they would board our flight momentarily.
Even though I kept pointing out our need to make an overseas flight connection in LA.
Momentarily ended up being about four hours later, as it seems they had known all the time..
So we missed the connection to their Dublin flight by maybe five minutes.
After much delay American generously gave us ten dollars to feed two people dinner, and booked us onto Air France with about a six hour wait–lots of time to spend that $10 at LAX in the middle of the night.
Anyway, we wondered about, bought more than $10 of crappy airport dinner, and finally we boarded.
We had the last two seats available in economy, which were inner seats in a center section of five seats, several rows apart.
The Air France attendants were not willing to put an unattended young girl between strangers on an overnight flight.
(She was eleven. I totally agree with them)
So they stashed us by the bathroom to wait while they arranged things.
At this point the plane has pulled out from the terminal, and driving to where they to wait to take off.
There is not a lot of time to spare here.
The nice French flight attendant goes to a woman next to one of the empty seats and asks her to switch. No.
Tries the lady next to the other seat. No.
Turns out there is a group of adult women cheerleaders traveling together to some kind of event, dressed in matching hoodies and ready to party.
They had bagged all of the aisle seats so they'd be able to run back and forth and socialize during the flight.
(Although some of them seemed to be in inner seat too.)
The plane is now next in line to take off.
It's about midnight.
Sarah and I are still standing up by the bathrooms, waiting to be seated.
Attendant offers an upgrade to first class to one of the ladies.
She agrees to go — the plane is going down the runway.
Another attendant seats Sarah and me.
I am not yet in the seatbelt when the plane is in the air.
We are still ascending, and the seatbelt sign is still on when the lady comes back, trailed by the attendant, shrieking at us.
Turns out it is a window seat in first class, and she still wants an aisle seat.
She wants the aisle seat I am now sitting in, and she wants it now.
We have every attendant on the plane standing over us, and two or three of her buddies are getting out of their seats to join in the fun.
They are all yelling.
I have a migraine already.
Sarah and I are told firmly by the attendants to just stay put — the plane is still climbing, the seat belt sign is on, fine with me.
The other ladies (ahem, I use the word loosely) are told to sit down.
The aisle seat lady is informed that seat reservations can be changed at anytime by the flight crew, and to go sit down in first class.
(There is also now an empty center seat next to her friends in economy.)
Much discussion ensues.
Finally she retreats, with much foul language, and threats of a law suit, to go nurse her sorrows in first class.
About a dozen aging LA cheerleaders are all seriously pissed, and my daughter and I are surrounded by them.
Except for the seat on Sarah's other side, where a fifty-something French business man in an impeccable suit has ignored the whole thing and is still reading his paper.
Every time the flight attendant goes past, there is a flurry of comment from the cheerleaders.
They keep hitting the call button to berate her.
The two seats in front of us have cheerleaders in them.
They look through at us through the crack.
Then they have *really* loud discussions about inconsiderate people.
Then they look back at us again.
They never say anything directly to us.
And, seriously, they would not have liked having an aisle seat next to me, because I was climbing in and out all night.
And they probably wouldn't have wanted to sit next to Sarah and help her deal with all the French instructions either.
It seems the attendant with the best English was the original lady, but after the abuse started they switched off so our section had the only male attendant, and he seemed to have little English.
Or maybe all the attendants are seriously cross with us all.
The believe it or not moment was when I noticed they were trying to flirt with him.
The flight is the roughest I have ever been on.
The plane is literally bouncing all night long.
For special bonus points, I have cramps.
I am in the midst of one of those periods you get in peri-menopause, when you literally just flood.
I have now been traveling about twenty-four hours, and should have been in Dublin hours ago.
There are no extra anythings in the bathroom, so having finished off my supplies — which had seemed more than ample that morning — I am now concocting things with bundles of toilet paper and paper towels.
When I can get to the bathroom.
Which is almost never since because of the turbulence the seat belt sign is almost always on.
I have managed to wrap up Sarah so she can sleep, but somehow all the earphones ended up tangled in her blanket.
So I have no sound, and am following the French subtitles on the movies.
There is no way I can sleep, since I am watching like a hawk for my next chance at the bathroom.
We fly over Ireland around dawn, when they serve us a simply wonderful and sophisticated breakfast of fresh fish and lovely cheeses of which Sarah will eat only a roll.
We arrive in Paris around 10am basically starving, grubby, and sick.
In the airport on our way to the connecting flight we went down a staircase, and at the bottom there was a fairly deserted area.
The cheerleaders waited for us down there, and surrounded Sarah and me like a pack.
One of them gets in my face, doing the pointing finger thing at me, and tells me I wasn't being very nice about the seat because I didn't get up and give it back to their friend.
And then after it all I never even thanked her.
(And by the way, I actually think I *did* thank her, back at the very beginning, but she wasn't hearing boo from me because she was in such a full tilt snit-out.)
I so just lost it.
I pointed out that I had thanked the attendant who seated me.
That I had even thanked their friend, who was such a shit she hadn't even heard me.
But that I shouldn't have thanked her because she was a such a fucking bitch.
She didn't deserve to be thanked for for what she had never meant to do, tried not to have to do, and was such a rude jerk about.
I said that if they didn't get away from me, now, I would scream for a cop.
I grabbed Sarah, pushed through them and looked for a cop.
I couldn't find one, but they vanished real fast anyway.
Sarah was shaking.
Anyway, we waited about for hours for a flight back to Dublin.
Finally, then they packed us into this tiny airless van to drive us out to the plane.
And left us packed like sardines, out on the runway in the sun while people walked around looking at the plane.
One of the wings was all scorched.
Apparently it had been struck by lightning on its incoming trip, and they thought we should wait out there, in the van, while they decided whether or not it was still safe to fly.
They walked around outside and talked some more, while we finished off any oxygen remaining in the van.
Have I mentioned the migraine yet?
Finally they drove us back to the airport while they found another plane.
We got to wait around some more, but at least the airport sold tampax and had open bathrooms.
Sometime near sunset, they put us in a van again, but this time they put us on a plane too.
It was too dark to see whether it was scorched or not.
When we got into Dublin, it was the middle of the night.
Our luggage wasn't there
(C'mon, anyone surprised.)
Luckily Tom's aunt had tracked all the flight weirdnesses and was there and scooped us up and took us to her house.
I think she doesn't get migraines.
She welcomed me with some lovely whiskey.
I am a thoroughly housebroken guest.
I smiled, I thanked her, I drank it and said it was lovely, and agreed it was just what I'd needed.
Oddly, I didn't die, though I thought I might.
The airline turned up with the luggage, straps broken, the next day.
Ireland was lovely.
American Airlines also missed the LA-SFO connection the other way on the return trip.