Friday, June 15, 2007

June Sucks

I'm back. And I hope you weren't looking forward too much to a photo-filled, happy post describing my trip because this one is going to be nothing but whiny. Just allow me to get it out of my system. Then a more pleasant post about my actual time in NY with my parents will follow.

As previously posted, I had the plague for the four or five days before I had to fly cross-country. I tried to be relatively stoic about that as I was just grateful that I didn't end up having to go to the hospital, as my OB vaguely threatened. Luckily, I kept down some applesauce and popsicles to avert that horror. The day before I had to actually fly, I felt significantly better, which was a lucky thing because the husband was back from China for only one day before I was scheduled to take off on my own jaunt. So I was hopeful about flying without ill (literally) effects.

Wrong. It generally takes three flights to get from Tucson to Burlington, VT, if you're trying to be economical. This is typically awful, but you kind of just have to not think about it and plod through. However, the experience is exponentially worsened, it turns out, if you feel like you're one jostle away from losing your lunch the entire 12-hour journey. The first leg of my flight was in a tiny little plane from Tucson to Denver, where I was squashed next to an obese woman, on the scale of those who intermittently end up in the news because the airline makes them buy two seats or something. I have sympathy for that plight; I'm not judgning. But I am 5'10" and nearly 20 weeks pregnant, so I'm no waify little thing that can easily curl up in half her seat when the other half is requisitioned by my seatmate. She did apologize. I said something like, "That's okay." To which she said, "Well, it's not, but..." And she was right, it wasn't okay, because by the end of the turbulent flight, when we started our descent, I was sweating with the little fan on full blast and 100% of my being focused on not needing to use the air sickness bag.

I did make it with stomach contents in place. And my next flight was also turbulent, but more spacious. The problem was, I had so little time between flights that I would just barely complete the hike to my next gate before they were boarding my next leg. So I never got to recover. And was feeling queasy before the second and third flights even took off, never mind by the time they landed. It was hell. Or at least I thought that was hell...

Flash forward one week through lots of lovely outings with my parents, the freaking beautiful Northern NY weather and scenery, the friends I got to visit with, and, of course, Scarlet Lily's engagement (!!!), all of which I'll try to cover soon. I was feeling 100% healthy for my trip home (except for those damn pregnancy headaches I keep getting) and looking forward to getting to know my husband again after over two weeks apart (minus the one day between our trips). My parents drove me to the airport, we had a nice lunch (the Burlington, VT airport is tiny and has one restaurant in it, outside of security, and it's actually good...if you ever find yourself there), and they dropped me off at the gate.

My plane boarded a little late, but no big deal. We neared DC (the first of the three-leg flights), the pilot announced we'd be on the ground in 20 minutes, I wasn't nauseated (yet), and we were landing on time...except that an hour later we were still in the air. The pilot announced that there was a thunderstorm over DC and they wouldn't let us land. We didn't have the fuel to stay in the holding pattern we were in, so we were being diverted to Baltimore...with a bunch of other flights in the same predicament...where we stayed, on the tarmac, for over four hours...without bathroom access as the lavaratory literally filled up. We were the last flight there, so were last in line, so we got serviced last. They eventually refueled us and emptied the lavaratory (which promptly was filled again in about 30 minutes). But DC was completely shut down so we were still stuck. They tried to get Baltimore to let us into a gate, or even drive a bus out to get us off the plane, but, according to the pilot, they were not being very cooperative. So we sat. Finally DC was letting planes in again, and we landed there about six hours late.

In the meantime, my connection to Denver had, of course, been cancelled. I got on the phone with the airline who rebooked my flight pretty quickly, but couldn't get me out until the next morning as it was now 10 pm. They also told me I would need to get my bags out of baggage claim and recheck them when I checked back in for my morning flight. So I left security, went to baggage claim, waited for my bags for a couple hours as they were backed up with all the screwed up flights coming in. Finally, I got suspicious that my bags weren't coming and went to talk to the baggage claim people. They looked it up and found that my bags were being held for my morning flight, so there was no reason I had to exit the secured terminal and go to baggage claim after all (this will be important later). So I went to talk to someone about finding a hotel. The guy looked at me like I was crazy and said all the hotels had been full for at least four hours. I started to feel a little panicky. The husband was at home and got online and on the phone trying desperately to find me a hotel. The best he could come up with was an hour and a half from the airport. I was getting a little tearful at this point, but still trying to hold it together. I stood in line for an hour and a half, starting to feel shaky, so I could get my new boarding passes and get back through security.

This is where I lost it. Security was apparently closed until about 4 am. It was, I think, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 am at this point. I was tired, and pregnant, and not feeling well (again), and scared (mostly because the ticket agent had just told me that if I couldn't get a hotel I'd better go back through security and wait in the terminal where it was safer). There were people curled up on the hard, linoleum floor everywhere trying to sleep. I was far from the only person in this predicament. I was sitting on the floor, on my cell phone with my husband, crying heartily now. A cop came up to see if I was okay and directed me to a coffee shop in baggage claim where at least there were tables and chairs.

I got down there and realized that I hadn't had much to drink in about 13 hours (though I had eaten--thank God we packed that food in my carryon, Mom). I stood in line, came very close to fainting, but finally made it with food and drinks to a table. That helped. Across from me were tables adjacent to a padded bench, packed with people sleeping. I'm so tall, I doubted I'd fit on there even if there had been a space, but I was envious nonetheless. After about an hour I got lucky and somebody left. I grabbed there space, pulled my carryon bag and laptop as close to me on the floor as I could, and scrunched myself up into the smallest, pregnant, nearly 6-foot ball I could. I slept for two hours in that way where you're just barely asleep and you wake up with a start every five minutes or so. So not real sleep, but rest at least. It was loud, bright, and freezing.

Finally, my hips were too sore to stary there any longer (it wasn't that padded) and I realized it was 4:30, so I headed up to security, where the line was already unbelievably long. At 4:30 am. But it was moving so I got through in maybe 20 minutes. Here's where the real heartbreak set in: remember how I only left the terminal to begin with because the stupid airlines agent told me I had to get my baggage, which turned out not to be true? All the people that hadn't been led astray thusly were sleeping in what, at the time, equated to luxurious beds, where they all were stretched out on there own benches with lots of space, it was warm, the airport had dimmed all the lights (!!), and given them blankets and pillows!! I could have spat on them all.

I eventually found breakfast. I read. I curled up on my own bench, sans pillow or blanket, but while the lights were still dimmed, and caught a little sleep. Bided my time until 9:00 when my plane finally boarded. I flew to LA without incident, sleeping most of the way. Then finally, finally, got back to Tucson around 5 pm. A day later than I should have. The husband has class Thursday nights and couldn't skip it, nor could he find anyone available to pick me up, so I paid $60 to take a cab all the way back to our house. Finally. Bed never felt so good.

Today I have to work, which is too bad because I'm still not feeling 100% again. But after missing so much due to illness and vacation, I need the money. So I'm heading in shortly for a half day. Then home to sleep some more, no doubt.

Okay, that's the end of my epic whining. Cheerier post next time, promise.


Ali said...

Poor you - a crap journey when you're pregnant and emotional is no fun at all.

Sarah Berry said...

OH MY GOD. That's one of the worst travel experiences I've heard in a while! I don't even know what to say about that!

It's the exact worse case scenario I fear about traveling alone and without B. It's something I used to do just fine, but after 4 years of having that luxury of an emotional safety net, I refuse to give it up! You poor thing...

Anonymous said...

Oh my dear, this is totally awful. I'm so sorry this happened to you and nobody seemed to care that you were pregnant and in this situation. People suck. You need to be healthy more than you need money, so please take care of yourself and take another day off to rest if you need to.

Anonymous said...

Oh, honey, no! That sounds like such a complete nightmare!! All of those things have happened to me, but I was never pregnant at the time! Oh, I'm happy your home with the man and pets again, and I'm mentally stabbing all of those airport people in my head.