Posted by: Michelle | January 23, 2012

Nervous Nellie Flies Again…


I knew this week might prove to be more challenging with the potential of weather-related travel delays. My luck has been pretty good so far this year [yes, I do realize that we are only three weeks into January] but I can only assume Murphy will cast his spell and travesty will reign down on my life. This is what is going through my mind Tuesday morning as I watch the rain turn to snow turn back to rain only to turn back to snow. Goody. Apparently, the man upstairs cannot make up his mind. This evening, I was on the redeye to New York via Seattle. Only problem is, the brunt of this storm was making its way to Seattle with a predicted foot of snow. United issued a travel waiver so I knew unless someone with a higher power than I decided He was just messing with us, getting to the East Coast may be challenging. I decided to be proactive and called United to see if I could change my outbound flight from Seattle to Los Angeles. No problem – that will be $1,425 please. Okay, never mind. It would be hard to justify the fee to the client so I was left to take my chances and stuck with my original schedule.

When it comes to snow, I’ve always been somewhat of a nervous Nellie. Okay – to be completely honest – I’m somewhat of a nervous traveler. Not in the “oh my God, what if my plane crashes” but in the “what if I get hung up in security” kind of nervousness. The “what if there is a long line at the check-in counter” or “what if I can’t find a parking spot” plays over and over in my mind. I always run through everything that could possibly prevent me from getting to the airport, parking, checking in (I loathe carry-on luggage), and getting through security. Even then, once I’m on the other side I start thinking about boarding the plane – especially if I’m in a bulkhead seat where you cannot put your belongings under the seat in front of you. Not a big deal, you say? Well, it can be. When the overhead bins start filling up and you are forced to put your backpack several rows behind you, it can get ugly. Think of a salmon swimming upstream. Of course, this only happens when you have to change flights in a short amount of time. That is Murphy working against you. So now you know. This is my neurosis. It really doesn’t matter if I’m flying, on a train, a ship, or even driving. I constantly feel this urge to hurry up as if I’m going to miss something important if I’m not early. Or it could be a patience issue… Whatever. Everyone has something.

Because I couldn’t concentrate at home, I decided I might as well head to the airport, get Starbucks and work from the lounge. It was only three hours early and amazingly enough, the time passed quickly. Soon it was dark, still pouring and the winds had increased significantly. This was going to be a fun flight and not just because of the weather. It was a prop plane. Fun! I haven’t been one of those in ages. It is pretty sad when I hit my head on the ceiling [I’m only 5’2”]. I couldn’t even manage to shove my backpack under the seat so I had to stow it in the overhead bin. It took a bit of muscle to make it fit before finally taking my seat. Now I know how tall people feel as my knees were firmly pressed against the seat in front of me. Because I was right in the front, I could hear the exchange between the ground crew and the pilot. “Do you want de-iced?” The pilot pauses and says “no” then “sure, go ahead.” But before the guy could turn around she changes her mind again. “No, we don’t need it. It’s 33 degress. We should be fine.” Excuse me? SHOULD BE FINE?! Do I get to vote? But then she acquiesced and said “yes.” Geez, lady. If it is close to freezing, I would opt for the de-icing. Wouldn’t most people error on the side of caution, especially when it comes to flying?

Of course, once we pushed back and the de-icer truck came around to spray our tiny plane, I’m not sure it really mattered between the rain and the wind. They sprayed the propeller from the front causing the fluid to blow back towards the truck. Smart thinking. Then I start wondering what the headlines would read about a commuter plane with 20 odd souls on board that crashed after takeoff on its way to Seattle.

Off we go, into the wild dark yonder! I forgot how loud a prop plane is as well as the vibrations. Whist I know many women who would relish such motion, it wasn’t the time or place. The tiny tube of metal was quite good at going up and down with the air current. I was fascinated watching the propeller and the red light flashing beneath it. Right up until the ice started forming underneath it. Then I couldn’t help but think of the all the previous accidents where regional jets crashed in cold weather. [Again, I’m really not a nervous flyer.] Soon enough though we were over Pudget Sound and the Space Needle appeared through the clouds. As we descended over the city, I wanted to get a picture – it was so pretty with the clouds and lights. Unfortunately, the flight attendant saw that my iPhone wasn’t turned off and asked “you are turning that off, right?” Rats!

Once we landed, it was a rather treacherous walk into the N terminal. Seems the ice didn’t just form on the wing, but on the ground as well. Then it was climbing stairs, only to go down the escalator, into a train, off the train, onto another train and a hike to the end of the B terminal. Man, I forgot what a pain in the butt it was to get around Sea-Tac. Because I still I had over an hour I thought I might as well go to the United Club. Turns out, it was hardly bigger than a closet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so small. The security was pretty tight. Typically, I give the agent minding the desk my boarding pass, he or she scans it and hands it back with a fine “how do you do.” Not in Seattle. I had to show my boarding pass, ID and my membership card. All to enjoy the confines of a 6 x 6 cell… err… lounge. All three chairs were occupied, so I found a small cube to charge my iPhone and grab a snack and a drink and wait for my on time departure. So much for the storm that was supposed to hit hours earlier.

After all the fretting, I arrived at Newark early (5:40 am verses a scheduled 6:18 am landing). The flight was smooth, making it easy to catch a few winks. My chauffer was waiting at baggage claim and my room at the Trump Soho was[n’t] ready. Well, you couldn’t expect it to be all perfect, right?

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