This spring and summer I flew many, many miles. All of them exciting for the places they took me to see, the people they took me to meet, and the experiences they took me to have.
Herewith, in chronological order, an accounting of the interesting events that occurred on many of my flights. With the understanding that your definition of interesting may or may not be the same as mine.
Boston -> London (on my way to Amsterdam)
The woman across the aisle from me has a health scare and they call for a doctor. My thought at that moment: please, please, please let us be more than halfway to London so we don’t have to turn around if she really is having a heart attack. At the baggage carousel, several of my seatmates voice that they had the exact same thought at the exact same moment I did.
She was fine, btw, the doctor on board confirmed (I was across the aisle and could hear everything they talked about and, yes, I mostly listened to it all) that she was likely suffering only from exhaustion or, as the emergency technicians at Heathrow suggested when they came on the plane to remove her and her husband, panic at being a newlywed.
Amsterdam -> London
We were delayed for a least 30 minutes due to something or other going on at Heathrow and the pilot said that anyone, old or young, was welcome to visit the cockpit. I was the only one to take them up on it–I got to sit in the jumpseat and talk to two very handsome and friendly British Airways pilots for about 20 minutes (sigh).
London -> Boston
Not much to note on the actual flight. All the drama occurred in the customs hall in Boston when the poor little girl behind me in line tossed her cookies and caused everyone behind them to switch lines. And caused everyone in line in front of me to hand me their little packs of tissues to hand to her father. Who had more important things to take care of them accepting random tissue packs from me.
Boston -> Chicago -> Milwaukee
These flights themselves were nothing special, but at the end I got to hang with much-adored cousins and meet new second cousins and spend a lot more time than expected at Polish Fest in Milwaukee (aka Fake Poland).
Milwaukee -> Chicago -> Boston
These flights had to be on time. And they were, thank goodness. I got back to Boston at 3:00ish on Monday afternoon and at 2:00ish Tuesday afternoon I had to be unpacked from a five day trip to Milwaukee and repacked for a six week trip to Europe and at the airport ready to depart for the City of Light.
Boston -> Paris
This flight rocked because I ended up in Paris! Where the customs procedure was indifferent at best (as in nonexistent). Though perhaps they merely realized that France had nothing to fear from me.
Paris -> Lisbon
My first European discount airline experience. Thanks EasyJet for making it easy to jet around the continent amid lots of orange. And thanks to fate for having me stand so close to the gate when they announced boarding time. Since, for some reason, until that moment I had not realized I had no seat assignment and that it was winner take all approach to boarding.
Lisbon -> Barcelona
By now, I’ve upgraded to Speedy Boarding, meaning I fight with a much smaller group of people for a place in line and I board third. Woo hoo!
Upon my arrival in Barcelona, it occurred to me that I’d missed a very big step in the planning process–getting a picture or (or sending my picture to) the woman I’d never met who was picking me up at the airport. Forty minutes, two phone calls on a pay phone (which would only take 1 Euro coins), and one big bronze horse later and I was in the right car with my new friend Sandra!
Barcelona -> Paris
First in line at Speedy Boarding. (Can I get a double woo hoo?) I grabbed the aisle seat in the second row and boy what a show I got as the rest of the passengers boarded. One woman pushed ahead of at least twenty people to board sooner but left her husband, who was holding both tickets, farther back in the line.
Another woman lost her boarding pass between the gate and the door of the plane and was forced to stand next to the cockpit door (and not get a seat) until someone could confirm that she was allowed on the plane. They checked your boarding pass at the gate and on the plane and apparently the latter check wasn’t just for show.
London -> Boston
Six weeks later, after many great cities, interesting people, super cool home exchanges, and an amazing visit with my friends Paula and Simon, I said goodbye to the Olympic spirit of London (which seems to have no good nicknames, or am I missing something?), and flew back to Boston.
Where, at 2;30 in the morning, approximately five hours after I got home, I awoke with a sore throat so severe my ears were burning. Gotta love an immune system that takes everything six weeks in Europe has to offer and holds on with its fingernails until it realizes it’s home, snuggling in its own bed and near a CVS and food and drink it recognizes, before letting go.
Next up: Trains