Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Grateful for the Yawn Factor

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I’m of the opinion that travel is more interesting if there are problems.  “Everything was perfect,” might make for a great vacation, but you could bore your friends to death with that kind of travelogue.  Lost luggage, crazy GPS instructions and rude hotel clerks make better copy.  Hopefully, I won’t put you to sleep today, but our travel to Egypt was without incident.  That all changed once we got to Cairo, but that’s for later.

I Flew on American and I Liked It

This may not be a newsworthy item for you, but it was for me.  I’ve sort of hated American for a long time.  For years, every travel horror story I lived through began with, “I was on an American flight…”  I carried that anti-American chip on my shoulder for a long time, but in recent years I noticed that other airlines were doing their part to be as awful as I thought American was.

Most recently that was Lufthansa.  I’d always counted them on my favorites list, but then I flew them to Frankfurt.  The plane rattled so much I thought it was made out of Tinker-Toys.  Bill claims the flight wasn’t that bad, but if I hadn’t been sitting next to him, I would think he must have been on another plane.  Bottom line, I could no longer say my worst flights were American.

My other problem with American had to do with Love Field and the Wright Amendment.  As a Dallasite, I love Southwest Airlines and Love Field.  The Wright Amendment tied the hands and feet of both, in favor of DFW, and I didn’t like it.  I also loved Legend Air, which was a Love Field underdog that I maintain was run out of business by American.  I’m always for the underdog.  I go out of my way to avoid Walmart.  I won’t buy anything on Amazon.  I hate most chain restaurants, too.

This American flight snuck up on me.  (Yes, I know snuck isn’t really a word, but I like it better than sneaked.)  I wasn’t the one to make the reservations and I thought we were flying British Airways.  It wasn’t until a few days before the flight, when I was researching baggage allowances, that I realized my British Airways flight was going to be on American.  By then it was too late to do anything about it and I knew Bill was tired of hearing American Airlines Hysteria.  I just lived with the revelation.

A Brand Spanking New 777

So we got to the airport, parked our car, rode the shuttle to the terminal and checked our luggage curbside.  It was easy.  It was a late-night flight, so the airport was pretty boring.  We had a nice chat with a lady in the L’Occitane En Provence store.  In fact, she sensed my concern and we actually prayed together.  Finally it was time to board.

Let me tell you, our plane was so new I think it just rolled off the assembly line.  Nothing rattled.  Everything was pristine.  There were bells and whistles I hadn’t even thought to wish for – and we were in economy.  Even the food was decent.  I watched a couple of movies.  I was even able to sleep!

So, American Airlines, I know you weren’t losing any sleep over my grudge against you, but I want you to know it’s over now.  I can easily say my best flight ever was on American.  Singapore Air still holds my best-food-on-an-airline award, but the shepherd’s pie on American’s return flight was pretty decent.  (BTW Sing Air, I liked your old paint job better.  This new one is boring.)


Finally, We’re Off

Adult Coloring Cards My In-Flight Entertainment
Adult Coloring Cards My In-Flight Entertainment


Whoever said that getting there was half the fun must have lived a long time ago.  On our latest journey, getting there (and getting home) was just about the only hassle we had to deal with.

The Pain in my Neck

So, I had a wreck in January and have been under the care of a chiropractor.  While it has been distracting and frustrating, on most days I can keep the pain to a dull roar.  The one thing I can’t do is sit still for any length of time.  Talk about frustrating!  I spend my days at a computer, but these days my computer time is broken up by neck breaks.

What has been an irritation in my day to day life became a real dilemma on my trip.  Before my pond-jumping flight was over, I was having pleasant fantasies about guillotines – and anything else that might stop my neck from hurting.

No Room on the Plane

My biggest problem is that I remember when flying was fun.  The airlines were still trying to get our business, so our knees had room, the food was good and you didn’t have to be in first class to be treated well.  I’m sure I don’t have to remind you all this has changed.

I do have a message for Lufthansa, that Airbus 330-300 you put us on had no business going across the ocean.  I guess I really don’t have too much room for complaint, since my flight was virtually free.  Viking included airfare for $100 each and my travel agent tried very hard to warn me that I might want to upgrade to Premium Economy, but I was intent on keeping a low profile in the money department.  All the same, I’m going to complain.

As soon as I sat down, one thing was obvious, my seat was not designed for a 5’8″ female.  I can only imagine how miserable my six foot husband was.  There was no position I could put myself into which would keep my knees from touching the seat in front of me – and this was before that passenger leaned his chair into my lap.

My biggest complaint was the well-used condition of the plane.  Oh, the upholstery was fine and everything was clean, but from the moment it taxied down the runway, I had the distinct impression this plane might have crossed the water one too many times. My husband drives a Mercedes and I drive an Altima.  Neither is reflective of this experience.  The flight reminded me of the strange orange car my niece drove when we visited Egypt – there was a hole in the floor and everything rattled.  Now the plane didn’t have a hole anywhere (that I know of), but the rattling just about drove me crazy.

Sleeping – Forget About It!

In best case scenarios, it is unlikely that I will get much sleep on a plane.  In this case, unlikely was an understatement.  I had headphones, a neck pillow, a blanket, a sleep mask and I brought cozy socks for my feet.  I had dinner, did a little adult coloring and then settled down for a long flying nap.

I tried all the tricks to convince my body to fall asleep.  First was the sit-erectly-and-close-your-eyes method.  I told myself this would be best for my neck, but since I usually fall asleep on my side, I had to give it up.  I tried to emulate sleeping on my right side, which is my initial falling asleep position at home.  It was a little awkward, but it tricked my body into thinking it might want to fall asleep.  My next trick was to roll on my left side, which I always do in bed right before I head off to dreamland.  As a bonus, Bill was on that side and I was able to lay my head on his shoulder.  It was going to happen…I was falling asleep…then we hit the turbulence.

It was a pretty significant bounce, so I came wide awake, but if that had been all there was, I might have been able to overcome it.  I could not overcome the next hour of the bone-jarring ride.  The rattling sounds pierced through the headphones.  I tossed and turned for an hour in the dark with no luck.  Out of pure frustration I found a movie to watch.  I like Jennifer Lawrence.  I like Bradley Cooper.  I like Robert DeNiro.  However, Joy has to be one of the worst, most depressing movies I have ever attempted to enjoy.  After it was over I wished I had just listened to the plane rattle.

Breakfast Time

We didn't eat here, because we'd just eaten airplane food, but it did make us feel as if we'd landed someplace interesting.
We didn’t eat here, because we’d just eaten airplane food, but it did make us feel as if we’d landed someplace interesting.

By the time the movie was over the flight attendants turned on the lights and shades were going up.  I shook off my misery and looked forward to breakfast – which should be an indication of just how miserable I was.

Ten hours from take-off, we were landing in Frankfurt and I felt like I’d rather be dead.  The rattling had merely been a distraction, but from the base of my neck radiating outward was some of the most excruciating pain I had endured since the accident.  I was also punch drunk.  We must have asked 10 people how to find our gate.  We were like Keystone Cops.

When we did find the gate, I went to the restroom to freshen up.  We stacked our luggage around Bill’s feet and I slept until it was time to catch the next flight.  Thank you to my remarkable husband who acted as my pillow while I slept.  I was at least coherent when I woke up.  My shoulders felt good enough to make me think I might be able to withstand carrying my head around for the rest of the trip.

On to Budapest!  Things do improve and to prove it, here’s video highlights of our trip.