A Travellerspoint blog

Hell Flight Over Nevada

I like to sit at the best of times, I like free Coca Cola and I like TV so there’s not a lot about plane travel I can disagree with except for maybe the length of time it takes out of my life.

I was always a good flyer. I like planes. It fascinates me that they can stay in the air, fascinates me enough to look out the window and wonder however not enough to go to a library and borrow a book about on aeronautical engineering or gravity. I never had a problem flying but as I go on I am starting to become a more nervous flyer.

It’s almost as if now I’m just testing fate. Before it was like, what are the odds? But now, my number must nearly be up. Statistically, surely my numbers up.

A large proportion of this holiday has been spent in planes and in airports. I have taken 11 flights in the past 4 weeks, from 45 minutes to 8 hours and on all different sizes and quality of aircraft.

I had a scheduled flight from Guatemala City to Las Vegas but I had to go to Los Angeles and make a connection. I had low expectations for what Guatemala City International Airport would have in store for me but Guatemala was a dream, I boarded a lovely big plane from a newly renovated airport. Given my buff physique I was obviously asked to man the emergency exits. Both rows. I was ready to engage my flashing beacon and blow on my whistle to attract attention in my emergency life vest if need be.

Of course all I did was watch TV for 3 hours and lounge across all three seats and use all three blankets and pillows.
Now is probably a good time to reiterate that Americans have their own way of doing things. Their toilets have to flush differently, the shower handles have to be a mystery. Airports are no exception. American airports are a nightmare. By the time I make it to my plane and sit down I need a stiff drink and a lie down they are that stressful.

Firstly you have to make your way through an airport where terminals are called concourses for no reason other than to be difficult I gather and so us tourists stand there like chumps going where’s the gate? What the hell is a concourse?

When you arrive internationally, in the allocated time between your flight landing and your connection you have to disembark, or ‘deplane’ which is a word the Americans made up I’m sure, walk behind slow moving wheelie case walkers, wait behind people on escalators because Americans do not, and will not, walk up an escalator nor will they stand to one side to allow you to. It’s the American way and I’m okay with it unless I am in a hurry. You then have to join a long line and go through immigration. All the basics for a security paranoid country, eye scan, photo, left thumb, left fingers, right thumb, right fingers, a few questions and a few ma’am’s.

“How long are you intending to be in the United States ma’am?”

“Place your left thumb please ma’am, your left thumb, that’s your right ma’am.”

A bit of paperwork but hey, I’m not of any undesirable ethnicity so I’m cleared for entry to the USA.
I then have to wait until the machine decides to spit my bag out onto the conveyor belt, because at this stage you are on a schedule, this usually means it will arrive somewhere within the last 5 bags.

Got the bag, throw it onto a trolley the clock is ticking.

Then on to Border Security which is only referred to as FSB or something like that. We were like what’s a FSB? Mustn’t concern us lets go to the exit line which turns out to be for crew.

“Ma’am why are you in this line?”

Wrong line, mind you there was no one in either line, so we had to go back out and in one of those rope mazes they set up in airports. We went under to save time and back to the same desk albeit a longer route. They then obviously wanted to further screen my travel buddy because they had nothing else to do and we climbed under the rope which no doubt pissed them off.

I had a connection earlier than hers so I grabbed my bag off the trolley as she was wheeled in for anal probing and to swab the bag for drugs.
Then you have to recheck your bags to your next destination. Another line. Another interaction with customer service.
The clock is still counting down from your one hour connection they have given you.

Recheck the bags so they can scan them again because they don’t trust the Guatemalans I suppose then resticker the bags and send them to your final destination. They do not like to send bags all the way through that’s for the rest of the schmucks in the world. It’s not the American way.

Then obviously security clearance again, in case you have managed to rig a bomb in the underwire of your bra while in the immigration line.
Then to find your gate. Well first your concourse. Then your gate. Is it in terminal A,B,C,or D and north or south?
Nightmare. So you come to a screeching halt outside gate D36, a 300km trek to find yourself back at about where you got off your first flight. Exhausted.

The chance of all this going smoothly and you making your connection is slim. You should actually get a free upgrade if you can do it. When I arrived in Boston, four people were doing immigration for the 4 international long haul flights that had arrived. Needless to say we waited an hour and a half to get through. The family in front of me, grandparents, and two mum, dad and daughter sets who were en route to Florida to go to Disneyland. They had to get through this mess, pick up their bags and recheck them. I was tired and grumpy and I was not 2 years old like them and I wasn’t missing my flight to see Mickey Mouse. Needless to say they missed their flight while waiting in a stupid queue within the airport.

LAX is notoriously bad but I made my flight. Things are going my way.
Or so I thought.

I got on board and to my sheer disgust it was a 60 seater, two seats on one side, one on the other. It was small and I prefer my planes to be the trucks of the sky, big and steady with room to move.

We were a little late getting off the ground which was fine as my friend was on the flight after me so it gave us a chance to bridge our gap. I was happy to have made my connection. So I thought.

The flight was a little bumpy. Given, it was a small plane but we still seemed to be going up and down a lot, and side to side and generally bumping from cloud to cloud like Carebears.

So I am sitting there casually minding my business, my ears are popping because this moron cannot fly this plane.

Then boom.

With a rattle the oxygen masks fall from above our heads.

Everyone looked around in disbelief.

What the what?

This moron not only can’t fly a plane but is going to kill us all.

I stalled momentarily as others started frantically pulling for their oxygen masks.

I opened my window shade, as it was mid-afternoon it was quite bright and I’d closed them after take-off. I figured I may as well watch my own demise.

There I was, about to meet my maker somewhere over the Nevada Desert.
I grabbed my mask and pulled it down, thinking I should probably take in a bit more of the safety demonstration instead of ignoring it in favour of the Sky Mall magazine. I didn’t really want to put the mask on because it smelled like plastic and what’s the point of breathing clean air if you are going to plummet anyways? Just to muffle your screams?

What was running through my head?
I wasn’t necessarily scared, though my heart was beating out of my chest. My life didn’t flash before my eyes. I just felt overwhelmingly inconvenienced.

Oh great, I’m going to die, now, in this shitty desert in the middle of nowhere, I haven’t even got to finish my trip. On all the flights, in all the world, this crappy little 1 hour flight was going to bring me undone.
I was mad that this pilot wasn’t doing his job well.

I looked out the window into the vast nothingness and the scarred earth of the Nevada Desert expecting to feel it’s hard surface anytime now. The plane hadn’t done any major moves since the masks came down.

Eventually Captain Moron comes on and explains that while the oxygen masks have been deployed, there is nothing to be concerned about. We are not going to die.

So it turns out the pilot not only cannot fly well but doesn’t realise that if he jumps around that much the cabin pressure will change and the masks will come out. I know that and I failed all sciences I could get my hands on (except when the assessment involved making a diorama)
So he casually informed us that we would be on the ground in 30 minutes. Hurry the hell up then idiot was the general consensus. Everyone took their masks off and casually just went back to what they were doing like thinking you are going to feature on Air Crash Investigations is an everyday event. The masks just dangled there for the rest of the flight as a cautionary reminder of your fate.

What concerned me more than anything else, mostly because I was under the impression this almighty douchebag wouldn’t even know if an engine had blown out and we were losing altitude rapidly is that the masks wouldn’t come out because they were already out. No warning signs. Just death.

Eventually my heart returned to its normal, soft jazz percussion beat and I just stared at the chair in front for the rest of the flight.

I couldn’t even play with my split ends because my hands were shaking.

We landed on time. A little shaken especially considering it was already one of the worst flights I had taken before the near death experience. My friend casually arrives an hour later on a safe, bump-free, controlled oxygen level flight.

I felt sorry for those waiting to take this flight back to LA as they were going to have to replace 60 masks but at the same time, if they knew why they were delayed they would be glad they weren’t flying on that plane.

That was my brush with a dramatic death. No time to dwell, I was to be flying again in about three days.

Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 20:45 Archived in USA Tagged planes flying flight airports

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