I drove like the wind, flying off a high from a presentation I had just finished at work. My mum was a bit panicky (as per usual). I had been up the entire night before packing, had to be to work early for the presentation, give it, and then drive straight to the airport from there.
FNT to DTW. DTW to FCO. FCO to FLR. Flint, Detroit, Rome, Florence. My mum has a thing for flying out of Flint. I have no love for the puddle jumpers, but I do have to say, walking through 10 feet of airport to get from check-in to gate is definitely keen.
I left my snacks in the car. Of course mum would buy me snacks, but these snacks were slightly better for me than the type typically found in airports. Oh well.
Our first plane was delayed. Which, while useful to me getting there when I did, put my mum into more of a panic. Which is not so useful. This would, however, turn out to be the theme of the day.
I somehow snuck through having a huge carry-on while on a puddle-jumper. The overhead compartments were barely large enough to hold a typical purse, much less my camera bag and giant backpack. And, as anyone who has flown ever will have heard multiple times, if it doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you, put it under the plane. I am not going to put my portable and camera under a plane. Lucky for me, the woman sitting behind me didn’t have anyone sitting next to her, so I was able to put the rest under my own seat.
Our second plane wasn’t leaving for quite a bit anyway and we decided to get lunch in a cafe not far from the gate. It turns out a friend from work was flying out of the same terminal a couple of hours before us, and was still waiting when we were eating. She came over to see us while we ate. The food was good, not great. Certainly too expensive, but as is everything in airports. They have you trapped, they can charge whatever they want, really.
It was also an internet cafe, aptly named as such, and the charges showed up on my dad’s credit card as Online Cafe. He says to my mum, “How did you spend 40$ at an internet cafe?!” She had to explain it was dinner, not surfing.
We made our way to the gate in what would have been plenty of time to board. Boarding time passed. Departure time passed. I made friends with the couple sitting across from us, Jennifer and Christopher. She’s a flight attendant and he’s a captain. They were waiting to fly standby to Rome for vacation. Turns out there was an “emergency” in Boston with our original plane. They brought in an entirely different plane which was 50 seats smaller than the first. They spent four hours finding 50 people willing to change flights. Requirement was no checked luggage. Luggage is one of the fundamental failures of air travel to begin with, much less rerouting. The airline provided the passenger with a 700$ voucher for a future flight and routed them through Amsterdam to Rome on a later flight. Not a bad deal, really. Obviously we had checked luggage. Ergo not an option.
Second plane is now quite late.
We finally boarded. The plane was brand new, which was keen. Screens in the back of every seat. The displays were connected to remotes in the arms of the seats. The setup was similar to a basic media center of sorts. Categories for music, info, movies etc. One of the more “entertaining” and mind-numbing bits is a live flight tracker. On a nine inch LCD screen, it doesn’t move very quickly. My mum and I ended up in the two middle seats of a row of four. I gauged it and chose my seat. I ended up sitting next to Jane, a rather older woman on her first international trip ever. She was with a group that would be departing out of Rome on a cruise ship. They will be traveling around the Mediterranean with something like 20 stops. She ended up being quite hilarious.
“I bet you didn’t plan on having to deal with teaching some old lady how to use this thing,” Jane said. I pointed out that she was actually quite delightful and that I didn’t mind. Really she was. She’s one of those spunky types who can laugh at herself.
I woke up after a few hours of not-entirely-restful sleep. There had, finally, been a significant change in our location on the live flight-tracker.
We were informed that we were heading into final descent. Jane looked at me and said, “Well doesn’t that figure. I just get this thing figured out and the flight is over. Can’t we just circle around a few times?”
No. But, well played.