Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My worst airport experience to date

This past weekend, Dave and I flew to Memphis for our final wedding shower. Flying to Memphis means that we have to schlep over to O'hare and pray that our flight isn't canceled when we get there.

Long story short, it was.

Long story longer, I wish that had been the worst part of the trip.

I'm going to warn you now, if you have a weak stomach, you should probably just stop reading right now. This is going to go far beyond my usual curse-filled tirades.


We decide to leave at 6:30pm for our 9pm flight. This requires a bus ride over to Grand and a transfer to the sometimes shady Blue Line. The wait time with all of this can be anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes. This trip fell somewhere in between, so no complaints.

Due to the lovely Blue Line construction at O'hare, we had to get off at Rosemont and transfer to a shuttle bus to make it into the airport. Keep in mind that we all take the train to AVOID driving in any O'hare/highway traffic, so this displeased me greatly. Even more so when some tard on the bus started running his mouth about how he's so glad we're on a shuttle bus because it's "so much faster than the train." That is the only reason I laughed when we got caught in the inevitable traffic.

At the Airport: American Airlines Terminal

Dave and I make it through security rather uneventfully and sit down at the gate. He has this habit of periodically checking his phone for flight updates while I zone out and people-watch. I'm productive like that.

"Oh, shit," he says.


"Flight's canceled," he mumbles.

Dammit, American Airlines! Those whores canceled my last flight to Memphis and it caused me to miss a wedding. (I relentlessly bitched them out and got a free ticket out of it.) But, since this is O'hare, it's almost expected that something like this will happen. I'm ready for it.

"Quick," I hiss, "Get up now. Get on the phone with AA and let's get in line before anyone else figures this out."

As soon as we get in line, the gate agents announce the cancellation, but we're already poised to score seats on another flight before anyone else, so I'm feeling pretty good.

"Can I help you?" the agent asks.

"Yeah, we're on the Memphis flight, so we need to get on a new one," I tell her. Dave, who has already reached an AA rep on the phone, hangs up and focuses on trying to prevent me from getting shitty with the agent.

"Okay, I can put you on the 6am flight tomorrow."

"No, thanks, I'd like one tonight." See how polite?


"Aren't there other flights going to Memphis tonight?" I snap. Okay, less polite with that one. Dave moves in a little closer.

"I mean... There's a United flight, but they're not accepting passengers," she says.

What kind of answer is that? I, swear, this lady--

"I can put you on standby," she says quickly. "The flight's wide open." Dave talks to her to make sure that we're confirmed on the 6am flight in case we don't make the United flight. She says we are. She hands us what we think are tickets and sends us on our way.

At the Airport: United Airlines Terminal

At United, we go up to the counter and talk to this new gate agent to make sure Ms. AA actually did put us on standby. She did not. No, wait, she did. Well, she sort of did. (Just repeating what I was told.)

Whatever, we had the guy put us on the list, even though he insisted that the flight was most certainly NOT wide open. We'll take our chances. This flight was delayed about 2.5 hours so we had plenty of time to sit in frustrated anxiety to wonder if we were going to be allowed to board.

Meanwhile, they switch our gate without announcing it to anyone whatsoever. There must be some new policy that prohibits the airlines from letting the rest of us know what the hell is going on. All I know is that the "Memphis" screen I had been staring at for an hour suddenly switched to "Portsmouth." We check online once again to see where we are supposed to be and make our way over.

We get to the new gate and there's a swarm of people flooding the area. There are literally 4 full flights gathered around, all leaving within a half an hour of each other. Just as information-sharing isn't a priority with the airlines, neither is proper planning.

I'll skip the details, but in the end, both Dave and I made it on the flight. I was ecstatic.

Post-Airport, Mid-Flight, Total Disgust

When I board the plane, I notice that the seat next to me is empty. For a split second, I think about how awesome it would be if Dave and I got to sit next to each other, despite being on standby.

No such luck.

The seats were in rows of two and two, with me in an aisle seat. Across the aisle, to my right, there is a women with a baby. You know what? That's fine. I'll sit next to a baby. I don't even care because I'M ON THE PLANE. Bring it on, baby!

Come to find out, that baby was supposed to sit on my left, immediately next to me, but her mom switched seats because they needed the extra oxygen mask on the other side of the plane. So the person whose seat she stole ended up sitting next to me.

This is where it goes bad. Very, very bad.

My seat-mate is a 40-something woman with googly eyes and a head that seems to be permanently cocked to the left. She certainly looks unstable. Sounds a bit off too. She begins talking to me about Priceline.com and how she didn't like it.

Thanks for that tidbit, darling, but I'm trying to read Vanity Fair, so this is quiet time. Take a cue from the baby and hush up.

We get in the air, she pops some pills and falls asleep. We are both happy about this.

Halfway through the flight, Crazytown wakes herself up abruptly with a weird guttural noise. It was something between a gurgle and a snore. I'm not really sure. Since we have a guy in our office who makes weird noises all the time, I'm sitting there with this mindless inner monologue running through my head:

Whoa, what kind of noise was THAT? Ha, it almost sounds like something that Ginge makes. Seriously, why do people make those kinds of sounds? Do they even know they sound weird? Shit, do I make any weird sounds?? Oh god, what if I do? No, way, Ang would tell me if I did. I'm good.

Yeah, I know. Total drivel. Here's what I should have been thinking:

Whoa, what kind of noise was THAT? It was guttural, so there might be some puke coming out. Prepare accordingly.

Rather than prepare anything, I continue reading my magazine with my tray table down, seatbelt buckled, jacket across my lap, bottled water resting on the tray and legs tucked underneath me. Not exactly ready to sprint out of my seat.

After a minute, Crazytown snaps around to face me, as if I just said I'm totally in love with that awesome Priceline.com and I'm going to beat the hell out of anyone who challenges me.

"Uh, can I help you?" I ask.


"Okay, then," I say. Man, someone's gotta pee real bad, I say to myself.

Wrong, L. Very wrong.

So my dumb ass takes the time to fumble with my seatbelt, put the top on my water, close my magazine carefully enough so that I don't lose my page... and then I see the wretching.


I jump the fuck out of my seat, secure the tray table and snatch my jacket in one Superman-like fluid motion. Just in time, too. Crazytown vomits a ridiculous amount of grossness into her lap, onto the floor, onto the seat in front of her...

...and onto my bag.


I hit the flight attendant button and run away. Seriously, I went quite a few rows back to escape the mess. It was a scene. Side note: I HATE standing up on the plane when everyone else is sitting down. I'm so short and thus very comfortable with my status as practically invisible in crowds. Standing among a bunch of inquisitive, seated patrons makes me feel like an awkward giant on display.

Anyway, the flight attendants clean the woman, my bag and the seats while I stand for the remainder of the flight. They give me garbage bags to put my belongings in and repeatedly offer me free liquor. I kinda love them a little.

Upon landing, I rush off the flight with my garbage bags and wait for Dave to de-plane, expecting him to come off the plane very concerned to see me standing for so long and asking if I'm traumatized. He comes off rubbing his eyes as I shove my garbage bags in his face.

"Can you carry these?"

"What happened to your stuff?"

WHAT? Where were you for the last hour?? Lucky bastard was sleeping soundly in a puke-free seat next to someone who would probably be able to find the barf bag if it ever came down to that.

Oh, I almost forgot the ass kicker: Once we land, Crazytown apologizes to me and says the single most horrid thing I can possibly think of for anyone to say after such an incident...

"I knew I should have taken my medication earlier. Woulda prevented that."

Sigh. There are no words.


d said...

oh. my. fuck.

there are so many reasons i hate o'hare and flying and i just realized that i love that i've never been puked on by a stranger.

Anonymous said...

On the way to bridal shower, right? Did you register for a new bag?

Seriously, that was about the grossest thing to read right after breakfast. Should come with a disclaimer, honey. Of course, so should Crazytown seatmates.

The BAMF said...

L, you crack me up sweetheart.

I've got a GREAT airline story I JUST posted on my blog...check it out!

Hope the shower went well!


TKTC said...

I missed this one earlier. Obviously. Gross. I mean REALLY. You have got to be stocking karma like frequent flier miles to make up for some of this shit.

People who throw up on airplanes and cannot manage themselves should really not fly in airplanes.

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