My flight back home was scheduled for 5:20pm. Before noon that day, my boss says, “I’m off to have lunch with a friend. We’ve pretty much wrapped up what we need to work on together so feel free to get lunch, walk around, work from one of the empty cubes, whatever you want to do…”
“If you don’t mind,” I defer, “I’ll just take the earlier flight out.”
She’s all for it. I contact Northwest Airlines to make sure I can fly stand-by on the 2:20 flight. “Not a problem. There’s plenty of room on that flight.”
I pack up, purchase a salad to go from a nearby lunch spot, flag a cab, and high-tail it to the airport. I check in. There’s a waitlist. The wait list is long. I’m the last one on the wait list. The flight is packed. Slowly, they start plucking people from the waitlist. The waitlist dwindles down. I’m the last one left. No more room. I’m the only one who does not make it on the plane.
I’m crushed, annoyed, pissed-off. I go through the five stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The agent at the counter sympathizes. How bout this. For the 5:20 flight, she’ll move me as close to the front of the aircraft as possible so that I’m one of the first to de-plane. I’m right behind business class in an exit row. Nice gesture. I thank her for her kindness.
Luckily, there’s a bookstore with nice, plush couches at the airport. I sit down and make myself comfortable. I’m there for the long haul. I read an autobiography about a woman who married Bin Laden’s brother. I also read “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” That’s how much time I had to kill. 2 books in 3 hours.
Time to board my actual flight. They board starting with the back of the aircraft. Finally, they call my number. I’m one of the last to board. By the time I get to the plane, the flight attendant comes over and motions toward my roller-board, “No more bin space. We’re going to have to check that in.” I’m livid. I’m about to go postal. I plead, plead, plead. No sympathy. He collects my luggage and tells me to get to my seat. Sitting in an exit row, I have no place to put my backpack which includes my laptop and all my work material. The other flight attendants start yelling at me, “Miss, please find a place for that backpack. You’re holding up the flight.”
I’m thinking, “Didn’t these mother fuckers just tell me there was no bin space left? What the hell am I supposed to do?” I’m running around, trying to find space somewhere…anywhere for my belongings. I could feel the tears brimming in my eyes. I’m so angry and frustrated. I can’t believe I’m on the brink of crying on a stupid airplane. My backpack finds a home. I sit down and concentrate on not crying. I can’t believe I’m this upset.
Captain: expect a delay of at least 15 minutes. Maintenance needs to check something. Captain about half-an-hour later: expect a delay of at least half-an-hour. Mechanical failures.
Just shoot me. This is why I hate work travel.