Tag Archives: airplanes

Whooping It Up

tree on our carMy flight down to Los Angeles at the end of July was nice, because I’d upgraded to first class, enjoying three or four drinks and a lovely nap in the oversized seat. I’d never flown first class before, but for $50, and after my fatphobic encounter the segment before (from Walla Walla to Seattle), I was content to pay a little more. I may have spoiled myself forever.

Flying back to the Pacific Northwest was not as luxurious. Sure, I had an aisle seat, so I could stretch out my wonky legs, but right behind me some white dude coughed the entire 2-hour flight. Every sixteen seconds, cough. Reading a book, consuming the seven tiny pretzels handed out mid-flight, nodding into a microsleep, these were all interrupted with coughing and hacking. I craned my head around but didn’t see so much as a phlegm-moistened tissue in his hand. Middle-aged cough machine there was just spewing his whatever all over the plane.

Turns out, on August 4, flying from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, I got coughed on by someone who had whooping cough. In all likelihood, anyway. Giving him the stink eye, as I and many of the passengers around me did, failed to silence him or motivate him to request a mask or barrier for his illness. By the next morning I had a tickle in my throat. Two days later I had a fever, and three days later, so did Susanne and Emile. We presumed we’d picked up a head cold or mild flu, and as we’d all been running around far from home, Susanne and I figured we were simply run down a bit. That first weekend back together we settled in and got as much respite as possible for a busy family of three. Read More…

Some Enchanted Plane Ride

DSC_0011I have a shortish bucket list of places to visit in my lifetime, because I’ve read about different corners of the globe and I’ve always had a hankering for seeing them up close. Patagonia. Paris. Senegal. Lebanon. Hawaii. The trick is, getting there takes some doing. I imagine that for millennia, most people stayed pretty much where they started, with some nomadic peoples making long treks, or some specific folks earning a reputation for exploration and such. Perhaps there’s a wisdom in nesting, because with all of our technological prowess and transportation advancement, venturing from Point A to Point B is still a total pain in the keister.

Ever since we moved to Walla Walla, one of our quieter gripes has been that it takes 2-3 flights and 12 hours or more to get to the East Coast, usually at an expense of $500+ per traveler. At some point Susanne and I toyed with the idea of going to Hawaii instead of making multiple trips home for the holidays. Once we assessed that the prices really were similar, coming here shifted from a tongue-in-cheek thought experiment to a plan. And because we’ve struggled with getting in and out of Eastern Washington so many times now, seeing a three-legged airplane journey didn’t feel like a big deal. What price to pay for paradise, we asked ourselves.

Turns out, a 6-hour flight is no small feat for a toddler. The entire ride, we listened to wailing like I’ve never heard come out of any human being, much less a small child. Thank goodness it wasn’t Emile having the extended purple scream. Sure, he fussed, asking for “down,” and saying “all done” with the jaunt just 20 minutes after takeoff. But he held it together for the most part. Getting to the big island, Emile notched his 12th, 13th, and 14th flights in his new existence. A couple of bouts with turbulence notwithstanding, Hawaii Airlines gave us a smooth ride and a strange meal box. But hey, they have a meal box. It was a step up from the pretzel bag from Delta, and 10 light years better from the three sips of flat cold soda that they serve on United. (I think we all know I will never again breathe a friendly word about United Airlines.) Read More…

Tips for Traveling Based Solely on My Last Experience

flight attendants wavingThis is my second head cold in a month, so I’ve dipped into our hard-to-acquire stash of Sudafed, which I know from Breaking Bad is the item purchased by “smurfs” to make crystal meth. Thank you, AMC, for expanding my culture reference set. Based on when my left tonsil puffed up like a blowfish, I figure I was exposed to whatever virus this is on one of the three plane rides over to the East Coast. It could have been the 3-year-old two rows behind me who practiced his raspberries for 45 minutes. Or the lanky guy who slept next to me for 4 hours and insisted on sticking his feet under the seat in front of me (I thought I was the fat space hog). Maybe a flight attendant passed it to me along with my half-ounce of cracker party mix, who knows? But if I could relive the experience that day, I would do the following, and I’ll note right here that I did know these things before May 17, 2012.

1. Bring hand sanitizer with you. You may not have time to wash up in the airport rest room between flights, and you’ll probably need it more frequently than every three hours, especially if it’s during flu season. You may even be tempted to splash some on your neck, like cologne. This is not necessarily a bad idea. Read More…

By Hook or by Crook: Traveling with Baby

Susanne and I like to think we are seasoned travelers, people who move around continents with ease and without flinching. I know before I get to the security line how many bins I’ll need for my stuff. I know which planes have a great bulkhead row and which will cause me to wrap my legs around me like an experiment in human origami. Southwest trains their employees to present all information as a jolly delight, so I’ve learned to cut through the tone to get to the actual substance. Delta, after its merger with Northwest, has a lot of sullen, underappreciated staff at the till, so I make sure to smile when I talk to them and then I get slightly better service. I’m a gate-checking madman, avoidant of baggage fees, and I most recently am grieving the loss of the tiny bag of pretzels, because it seems even that microscopic luxury of flying has now vanished.

When people told me that everything would change once the baby arrived, they failed to bring up air  travel. Not a single person in the 8,374 instances of “Your life is going to change, you know,” that I heard before Emile’s birth finished the sentiment with “especially when you try to get on a plane.” I recognized that life would shift, but I didn’t think about flying. Read More…

Boom in the Night

Quantas airplane in flightLet it be known that I fly a lot, especially now that I’ve moved to this dusty corner of the country. It just isn’t possible to drive everywhere I want to go, certainly not with $4.00 gas staring me in the face at the station. Most of my trips originate not at the lonely Walla Walla airport, which hosts a few flights a day to and from Seattle, and which will bump up the fare anywhere between $400 to $1,000. So I trek out to the Tri-Cities, an hour away, and go from there. It’s a Planes & Automobiles adventure every time. Read More…

%d bloggers like this: