I used to be able to travel just about anywhere without a problem at all. Didn’t matter if I had connecting flights, layovers, you name it. It simply wasn’t ever a problem. Then at some point, I did something to anger the travel gods, and I can’t go anywhere without a travel curse descending upon me in some way. I no longer fly unless I can get a nonstop, because something will cause my flight to be delayed and I will miss my connection. Or I’ll lose my boarding passes somewhere between security and the gate. Or they’ll lose my luggage. Or the entire North Europe flight control system will crash and I’ll get stuck in Heathrow airport and all of the above will happen at once. True story. So yeah. Travel curse.
My recent trip to Denver started out with a minor but ultimately benign issue with carry on bags. It was no doubt caused in part by retinal burn precipitated by the horrifically bright yellow of the airline’s web page. Seriously, Web Design 101 should have taught you not to use yellow for anything. But their schtick is the bare fare, so they probably hired a web designer who barely passed his degree program. At that point, I was happy my plane came with a (hopefully sober) pilot, so I didn’t let it bother me too much. Carry on bag issue resolved, I boarded with my kid and decided it was worth the exorbitant fee for an alcoholic drink to calm my nerves.
I really hate to fly.
We landed rather than crashing in Denver and I counted myself lucky, especially considering that flying in and out of Phoenix is generally a hair raising experience. Apparently the same is true flying into and out of Denver. Thanks, Rocky Mountains! Assholes. I chalked the rough flight up to my travel curse and hoped that would be it, and had a great visit with friends in Denver.
On the flight home, though, that’s when it hit. I did not miss my flight, lose my boarding passes, or get strip searched by a bearded lady. I did, however, discover upon checking in online that I had forgotten, when I was booking the trip, that I hadn’t been able to select seats. So when I went to check in, my seat was eight rows away from my five year old daughter’s seat. Um, no. Not acceptable. There were two seats next to each other for the low price of $49 each, though! Deciding that it was worth it, I bent over and paid the extra $100 rather than trying to fight with the airline people at the airport, especially since they were literally the last two seats next to each other on the otherwise full flight. Fine. Airlines have really developed some attitude lately, you know? At least it was US Air, where we each got a free carry on plus a purse AND a full sized 17 square inches of seat to ourselves, as opposed to ‘cozy seating’ where they cram us in like cattle to fit more seats on the plane as they did on the airline we flew on the way up whose name we will not speak but that might start with an S and end with a PIRIT. Never again, OMG.
Have I mentioned I hate flying?
So we got boarded and found our seats, no problem. I got Offspring settled and went to put my wheel bag in the overhead compartment. No room. I looked to the other side. No room there, either.
“Daughter, I have to find a place to put this bag. You sit right there and do not move from that seat, do you understand me?”
“Yes, Mama,” and she turned to the lady next to her, who did not set off my Spidey-senses in any negative way, and proceeded to tell her all about her nut allergy. I recognized that look. She’ll be talking for hours if I didn’t interrupt her. Excellent. She actually will stay put.
I took three or four steps up the aisle, looking for a spot overhead. Nothing. I looked behind me and saw the top of Girl’s head right where I left it. Took a few more steps. Still nada. No space anywhere. I started looking about for a flight attendant to just gate check the damn bag. However, by this point, other passengers were trying to complete their own boarding stampede and I was starting to get pushed up the aisle. I am fairly tall, but am actually pretty small and am not terribly strong, and had no chance of pushing back. I was being inexorably moved further and further down toward the back of the plane. I could no longer see the top of Offspring’s head, or even my seat. I was almost the entire length of the plane away from my five year old daughter.
Now, if any of you are parents, especially mothers, you know that extra special feeling of utter panic mixed with a hefty dose of rage when you cannot see your child in a public place. It starts as a cold lump in your stomach, and then it liquefies and turns white hot and moves up into your chest and arms and face and before you know it, you are holding your carry-on bag like a Valkyrie bearing her shield, thrusting it before you at the flight attendant who is staring at you as though she doesn’t know if she ought to really call the Federal Agent on board or give you lots and lots of free alcohol. I barreled my way toward said flight attendant, shield-bag of holding in my grasp, and flung it toward her.
“There is no room anywhere, this has to be gate checked or something because I can’t find room for it and it won’t fit under the seats in front of me, just take it, Jesus, my kid is way up there and I can’t see her, and everyone had better get the FUCK out of my way RIGHT NOW.”
Behold my maternal power. The flight attendant took my bag and moved someone else’s bag to make room for mine, quite near my seat even, and the aisle back to my child was entirely clear of other humans. I didn’t even get on a no-fly list or anything!
I didn’t get any free alcohol, though. Five points from Gryffindor for that one. Distressed mothers must always be given free booze. Honestly, don’t they know better? At least the pilot had the good sense to put the plane on autopilot for landing. I know, because it was a smooth landing in Phoenix. I truly feel it was the least they could have done for me.