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?
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.
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.