Flying Solo

I’m going to take a departure from my normal ramblings to talk to you about traveling alone. In particular, I’m going to talk to you about traveling alone, taking up space, handling flight delays, and watching people. I’m doing all of those things today.

This morning, I’m on the first flight to Chicago to visit my very stressed-out fiancé for his 25th birthday. His mother kindly bestowed a leather jacket and a windbreaker upon me to deliver, which I tried to combine into a single bulky jacket while on the escalator this morning. Very nearly falling backwards, I managed to stuff one arm of the windbreaker through the equivalent arm of the leather jacket, and gave up on the other.

I pack light, which is a hazard of growing up in the airline industry. Since Mom was liable to wake up at 4am on Saturday with the immediate need to get out of the state, my sister and I learned to pack just enough and fast. We’d race to the airport, walk through security with our shoes on (the days before TSA), and board a 50-seater Embraer to Colorado Springs or San Diego or Columbus.

Part of the problem of this lifestyle is that I don’t ever check a bag, and as I’ve gotten older, the list of items to put in my well-abused backpack has gotten longer. My backpack, stuffed with pajamas, a single change of clothes, homework, and assorted power cords, takes up much more space than it did when I was ten. The jackets from Justin’s mother take up almost as much space as the backpack. Finally, my camera bag is basically the size of a newborn child, and demands almost as much attention as it tries to wiggle off my shoulder while I walk.

You can see why this is a problem.

Something as simple as going to the restroom has to wait until I land in Chicago and either meet up with Justin or with a coworker. In this culture of distrust, I can’t ask a stranger to watch my collection of black bags without someone calling in a K9 unit. Fitting into a bathroom stall with all of this crap (ha!) is out of the question. Considering I just drank a coffee, I hope this flight’s taking off soon.

This leads me into How to Handle Delays.

(I know, you’re thinking, “God, KaLeena, you’re already at 400 words! Aren’t you exhausted?” Nope, because my flight is delayed. At the moment, I have all the time in the world.)

Step 1: Be patient. A delay is rarely the fault of your airline and is NEVER (99.99999%) the fault of the agent you’re yelling at. Delays into Philadelphia, Dallas, Heathrow, and many other cities (I’m looking at you, Chicago) are usually weather-related, which means your airline is DEFINITELY not at fault, and like your insurance company, will not be paying you a dime for the inconvenience. Take it up with the weather gods and don’t blow a hernia.

Right now, my flight is delayed due to a combination of weather and lonely souls setting shit on fire. In case you’ve been living under a rock for a week, click the link and then return to me. I’ll be right here, sitting patiently on the tarmac at PHX Sky Harbor.

See? This delay is out of my airline’s control and my own. I’m using the time to do homework (and will probably use it to nap, later on), while the flight attendants do whatever it is flight attendants do during on-board delays.

Step 2: Reread step 1. It really is that simple, folks.

Delays also leave ample time to observe the world around me. For example, I’m currently observing that someone in the seat behind me is eating something that is way too smelly to be on an airplane. I’m also observing that we have at least two small (make that four) children who are bored in that way only small children and people with siblings can be bored (“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. . . .”).

Ooh, we’re preparing for take off! See you in Chicago!



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