Airplane Air Pain

The day after I arrived at Shannon International Airport, Ireland back at the beginning of June, Sky News reported an Air France flight had gone missing off the coast of South America.  This was great considering my international flights were on Delta.  The two airlines have interlocked their flight plans together so closely, it can be difficult to tell if the operator of the plane and the logo splashed above the tail wings are the same company.  My tour group thankfully drove around in our motor coach while waiting to hear what happened to the 200+ people missing in flight and to see if our flights home would arrive on the tarmac  in one piece, or in pieces across an American beach.

Just this summer there have been over a dozen plane accidents, and in the past week three alone.  This morning a plane skidded off the airstrip in Thailand.  I was planning on going to Thailand to visit my friend Sarah doing missionary work there in November, now  I’ll make sure not to fly Merpati Nusantara Airlines.  I’ll also make sure to postpone my trip to Indonesia (plane missing since Sunday morning) and not fly light aircraft when traveling through Kenya.  Clearly looking through the list of “100 Worst” on www.planecrashinfo.com is not helping my nerves. Luckily, nothing came up when I searched for Quantas, the airline taking me to New Zealand, or JetBlue, my American carrier of choice, on this site.  Hopefully, the most I have to worry about in September would be my backpack being stuck in Brisbane while I’m jetting across to North Island.

One of the interns I work with has never flown.  I flew for the first time at age 8, while moving from Boston to Phoenix.  We took a decent sized plane to somewhere in Pennsylvania/Ohio then a prop plane to St. Louis to visit my childhood friend Renee.  The worst part of the trip was discovering I was not tall enough to ride the new Batman roller coaster at Six Flags.

I told intern Michael about my layover in Brisbane and the hassle I was already anticipating two months out from my flight.  “What’s so bad about a layover? Can’t you just leave?” he asked.

This is an interesting question.  I’ve been in a lot of airports, and I’d have to say most of them are not traveler-friendly when you have hours to kill.  The Dallas airport has a full-sized Disney store that I enjoyed during the layover from Phoenix to Washington-Dulles when I was 10.  Charles de Gaulle in Paris is so confusing my group found our way out of security without even realizing it when I was 16.  Palm Beach International has a putt-putt course in the waiting area, but not by the terminal.  In Athens, all of the gift shops are before the  American security checkpoint, so even if you wanted to bring home 0.8% acidity olive oil that you couldn’t find in the grocery shop like I did two years ago, sorry but no such luck.  JetBlue’s T5 at JFK is probably my favorite, since they do have a platform in the middle where yoga classes are held, and even though I hate flying in and out of New York, it does leave my home base Dulles with something to aspire to.

So yes, Michael, layovers are a pain.  They are even worse than finding out you have to pay an extra $50 to check your bag because it’s 57 pounds and you can’t bring that bottle of wine you bought in Napa Valley in your hand luggage.  Maybe if TSA lightened up on liquids, gels and aerosols, I could pass the bottle around the plane so we all wouldn’t have to worry about the runway tires not retracting or the turbulence that will keep your headache from check-in going.  When you fly for the first time Michael, don’t call me while you’re waiting at the terminal.  Can someone pass me a Dramamine so I can pass out for this flight already?!

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