Most Memorable Flight Ever?

I recently flew back to Hong Kong from Vancouver (yay for cousins getting married!) and didn’t have the best flying experience. There wasn’t on particular bad part, just a 1pm departure from Vancouver to Seattle (beautiful view of the San Juan Islands the entire way south – no complaint there), a 1hr layover (pretty tight and no time to grab a bite to eat) and then 13.75 hours from Seattle to Hong Kong. That is a frickin’ long time to be sitting in one spot. Usually I’m better about being strategic when I sit down and scope out empty seats to move in to so I have more space. I was in the middle section of four seats, next to three missionaries, and was talking with them before departure and missed my chance. It’s hard to dismiss missionaries (and they prayed for me on the flight, so it probably wasn’t a bad thing to be friendly) but as a result I was stuck in my aisle seat in the middle section, just where the aisle narrows and constantly got my elbow banged by the drink cart.

Meanwhile, I was surrounded by what seemed to be local Hong Kong passengers who had amusing / curious habits while flying. The family of four in the row behind me, with two young kids, was actually impressively calm and quiet for basically the entire flight. Grandma, in the window row adjacent to them, however, was quite chatty (I imagine she was telling her daughter what to do) and pretty busy peeling hard boiled eggs and handing them out to her family. Who flies with hard boiled eggs?

A Life Shift 20150928a
Filling the cabin with hard boiled egg smell before we had even taken off.

My neighbour in the row directly beside me was lucky enough to have two seats to himself (because the stewardess relocated his seat partner so HE could have more space too). It seems I need to gain some weight so I can get more seats on a plane. My strategy for the flight was to stay awake the entire time (basically stay up all night if I were still in Vancouver) so that when I landed in Hong Kong at 8:30pm I would be exhausted and ready to sleep. This meant I watched a lot of movies and TV shows, and was witness to my neighbour’s…stretches. Not only was I jealous of his space to lie down and sleep, which made me dislike him, but every hour or so he stood up in the aisle to stretch. He stood with his back to me and basically did hip rotations right in my face, with his butt being at my eye level, for 3 minutes. I promise you, by the end of nearly 14 hours, not only was this infuriating, but it was also fragrant. Three minutes of imaginary hula hooping, every hour of the fight, while emitting a sweaty butt crack smell, was almost more than I could bear. 

When I landed in Hong Kong I was quickly off the plane and through customs, excited to grab my bags and get home. When you see your name circle by on the carousel, with a note to see the attendant, you know that’s not a good sign. My bags got left in Seattle (thanks for the inspection TSA), so I ventured home luggage-less and exhausted. At least one things worked out – I was to tired when I arrived home, I feel in to an insanely deep sleep, woke up to my alarm, and have not experienced jet lag AT ALL since I got back.

If you see this at the baggage carousel, you can bet your bag took a wrong turn somewhere along the way.
If you see this at the baggage carousel, you can bet your bag took a wrong turn somewhere along the way.

Overall, this was not a terrible flight, but certainly memorable, and it got me thinking about other memorable flying experiences I have had. Usually flying is pretty mundane, but I did find myself thinking about my first flight to Hong Kong. When my coworker and I got to the airport we were surprised to see someone else from the company also there for the same flight. He had a seat right up by the bulkhead with lots of leg room and couldn’t stop bragging about it (in a nice way). When we boarded, I walked past him and took my seat, and joked that I should come up to his lounge for a happy hour drink at 5. Less than two hours in to the flight, though, he was walking in my direction. It turns out a passenger had been massively over-served, was waiting in the area right in front of my co-worker’s seat to use the restroom and passed out, vomiting all over the carpet at my coworkers feet. Disgusting! Of course I felt terrible for him, but it was pretty funny how jealous of MY seat he was in the end!

Another time I was coming back from Salt Lake City, and a group of men were in front of me on their way to a fishing trip. The flight was completely uneventful, other than when we had landed and at the gate. The seat belt sign turned off, the overhead baggage compartment was opened, and one of the guys’ fishing rod cases rocketed out and smashed me in the face. It wasn’t really anybody’s fault (but when they say “be careful; contents may have shifted during flight” I take it pretty seriously now) but my forehead and brow bone were pretty sore. The flight attendant got me a bag of ice and I left the plane to find they had called an ambulance to meet me in the terminal. Embarrassing and unnecessary – and certainly memorable!

A nice memory from another flight was when Braden and i were flying back from the Dominican Republic. We were sitting next to each other wearing headphones and watching a movie together on our laptop. The flight attendant came by and said, “you can’t watch a movie with popcorn, but we don’t have any. This is the best I can do!” and handed us a huge can of Pringles. It was so sweet and unexpected!

Now, here’s the deal. I’d love to hear about YOUR most memorable flight (or travel experience) in the comments section. It can be a positive story or a negative one. Or a funny one! Anyone who leaves a story in the comment section will be entered in a draw, and the randomly selected winner will receive something special from Hong Kong in the mail from me! The cut-off for entry in to the contest is one week from today (October 5 at midnight, Hong Kong time) and I will announce the winner in a blog post shortly thereafter.


8 thoughts on “Most Memorable Flight Ever?

  1. One of my most memorable flights was in June 1985 from Vancouver to Melbourne. I was flying to Melbourne for a 6 month stay to live with my then boyfriend (and later husband)so goodbyes at YVR that afternoon were very emotional. I’d never been away from Vancouver for more than 2 or 3 weeks before that and I still have photos my sister had taken at luggage check in that day, of my tear-soaked cheeks as I hugged my mom for the last time.
    On the flight I happened to be seated next to a Melbourne anaesthetist. We had an interesting chat but I remember being homesick. Anyway,in those days flights had to refuel in Honolulu and by the time the plane landed on the runway there it was about 1am. The weird thing was, the flight crew asked us all to de-plane in the middle of the tarmac which we did. And then weirder still, we were instructed to walk over one by one to an area on the tarmac where our checked luggage had been placed to pick up our suitcases and move them to different spot several feet away. I had no clue what was going on and the crew didn’t give any explanations but we all did as we were told. When the plane was refuelled we got back on and continued on to Melbourne, arriving some 10 – 12 hours later. Of course this was way before cell phones and the Internet even (in the dark ages really)but I remember feeling a sense of calm sitting next to that anaesthetist because he’d reassured me that the flight crew would’ve only let us back on the plane if it had been safe. The whole tarmac thing had left me with an unsettled feeling.
    It was only after I’d been met at the airport in Melbourne by my boyfriend that my parents contacted me at his home to make sure I’d arrived safely. Back in Vancouver they’d received word via news reports that a plane leaving YVR the night before had been blown from the sky. Our plane had left Vancouver on the same night as the Air India flight. I always think about those poor people.
    That’s my story.

  2. That one time Tom and I flew to Florida for a holiday. I arrived in 1 piece, my husband however; arrived in a white t-shirt covered in brown sauce. I said “what happened to you?” He replied “the lady beside me got on the plane with A&W and spilled it all over me”. Not my experience, really. But memorable. We laugh every time we board a plane.

  3. Once I was returning from a conference in the US on a mid sized jet, so a lot smaller than a 747. For some reason we all had to board from the Tarmac. I waltzed through the carousel, showed my pre printed boarding pass and passport, and was waved through some cones onto the plane. It was not a veryfull flight and I was excited to take my window seat in an empty aisle at 17A. I felt even luckier when a handsome looking guy came up to me as if he was going to sit in my row… But actually he wanted to sit in my SEAT; on a nearly empty plane we had somehow been given the same seat number? After a lot of discussion with the flight crew I was ussured off said plane… Because it was going the opposite direction and not Vancouver at all! I had been directed to the completely wrong plane on the Tarmac and almost took a very long detour!

  4. I think that Barbara should win by default! Her story gave me a case of the goosebumps!

    I don’t have any interesting flight stories…! Better do more flying!

  5. Last year, when I was coming home from my trip to Nepal, I officially got to cross China off my “countries I have set foot in” list.
    My plane from Kathmandu to Guangzhou, China, diverted to Shenzhen (about 120 km away) after 2 aborted landing attempts due to severe thunderstorms. We were told that it was only going to be a minor delay until the weather passed and they could fly back to Shenzhen. Four hours later, we were still sitting on the tarmac being served a nasty “breakfast”. Several hours after that, we were still waiting. It was difficult to communicate, but it seemed that they could not allow us off the plane since we needed to be processed by immigration at the airport that we were supposed to arrive at.
    After about 12 hours of being stuck in the plane, and no food or liquid since “breakfast”, the atmosphere began to get a bit hostile, as passengers wanted to be let off. I phoned my parents back in the US, in tears, and my dad ended up calling the US embassy in China. They contacted the airline and response was swift. We got food and water and the flight crew was let off and switched for fresh. Meanwhile, the weather did not pass in Guangzhou and it eventually came our way. I have never seen such a storm before – a deluge of rain, wind so strong it rocked the plane, thunder and lightening. This went on for hours. Food and water could not be delivered, so once again we were without.
    Eventually the storm passed, they announced that they were cancelling the flight, and that we were going to be let off. But… we had to wait longer because they were bussing immigration officials from Guangzhou to Shenzhen so that we could be processed per Chinese rules. Meanwhile, we got dinner. Same as lunch. But at least it was food.
    Finally, after more than 24 hours on the plane, we got off! Then it took another several hours to be processed by immigration (they had no protocol for this situation and were very confused) and then we had to be bussed to Guangzhou. At Guangzhou I was booked onto the next flight to Vancouver, exit row seat, and got a free hotel stay so I could at least sleep a bit and freshen up. I made use of my Chinese visa and spare time to walk around a bit so that I could officially say that I had been to China.
    Of course, my next flight was also delayed, meaning I missed my connecting flight to Seattle, so more waiting ensued. By the time I arrived home, I had been traveling for 72 hours – 24 of which I spent in one plane.
    The saving grace was that I had been miraculously upgraded to economy plus for that initial flight and I had a whole row to myself! I cannot imagine how much worse it was for all those other people who were stuck in one seat. At least I could lay down, switch positions, and stretch out.

    1. I was on a flight from Spokane with my sister Sheila and my mother. We were just going to board the plane on the tarmac. Two of the ground crew were goofing around. Their stunt involved a bucket full of cold water and ice cubes, somehow I got between the guys and yes! I had a bucket of cold water dumped on me. I was wet from head to toe and cold the whole way home. When we landed, the pilot made a point to seek me out with an apology.

      I love this idea Alison, how clever! Even I was motivated to enter.

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