It’s been two years since I’ve taken a domestic flight, and while many people may have been witnessing the gradual changes that airlines have been making, I (who do not travel nearly as often as I would like due to lack of means and time) have been shocked at the changes that have been made in the airline industry.

Granted, the last time Ray and I took a flight together, we were on our way to get married; I had booked a nonstop trip from Newark to Honolulu simply because I didn’t want to risk our baggage (read: wedding dress) getting lost during a transfer.

This time, though, we were more concerned with cost than with transfers, so when I found a flight that left from Philadelphia for a reasonable price with a reasonable travel time, I booked it.

Our first leg took us from Philadelphia to Phoenix. I had the pleasure of being seated next to Typhoid Mary, Plague-Bringer, who hacked and coughed her way through the 4-hour long flight.

I was also surprised that the “In-Flight Café,” which I had known would be a pay-for-your-food-if-you-want-to-be-fed deal, had absolutely NO vegetarian options. Instead our choices were: 1) a Reuben sandwich with cookie – $7; 2) a Cobb salad with cookie – $7; or 3) a “snack pack” consisting of a tiny can of chicken salad, 4 cubes of cheese, some crackers, and, you guessed it, a cookie – $5.

Ray had discouraged me from making sandwiches for the trip because (and it was a good point) we had no way of keeping them cold until lunchtime. Instead, I packed a bunch of Lara Bars, and he stocked up on cashews, Pepperidge Farm Milan cookies, and almonds, so that became my lunch.

As we were landing, we hit a patch of turbulence, and my poorly-fed stomach began to turn. Thankfully, our plane landed before things got too desperate, although I was trapped near the back of the plane (which is always annoying during disembarkment) and forced to listen to Typhoid Mary explain that she got sick from her grandson, whom she had visited, when the last thing I wanted to talk about was being sick.

In Phoenix, we had 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the next gate (one terminal over) as well as eat lunch/dinner. I was still feeling queasy, as was Ray, but we forced ourselves to buy individual pizzas to bring with us on the plane.

Before we knew it, the flight had boarded, and we were back in the air again. Departing Phoenix was almost as bumpy as our arrival, so we were both thankful when we reached cruising altitude.

Even though I had specifically requested a window seat for Ray, something must have happened with the booking process, because he was given an aisle seat. And we were right next to the lavatories, which might have been useful if either one of us had continued to be sick. Instead, we got a whiff of other people’s bowel movements every single time the bathroom door opened.

I was stuck in the middle seat, as always, since I have shorter legs. The guy in front of me pushed his seat as far back as he could, and then he bounced back against the seat a couple more times, for good measure, I assumed, in case my knees hadn’t gotten quite bruised enough.

Meanwhile, the guy behind me (who had made a big stink upon boarding because his seating assignment had been messed up too, and the flight attendants gave him the option of dealing with a middle seat or getting off the plane) had some sort of nervous tic that involved kicking my seat for about 2 hours until he finally went to sleep. He awoke about an hour before the plane landed and resumed, much to my chagrin.

The only good thing about the seating mix-up is that Ray now realizes he likes aisle seating better because there is more room to stretch out.

After 7 hours in the air, we arrived in Honolulu tired and hungry and cranky, but we did stop to take in the fact that we were finally in Hawaii. That put smiles on our faces.

Next: Infrequent Flyer Part 2

Infrequent Flyer (Part 1)
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