There used to be something thrilling about air travel – specifically, getting to fly on my own. It was exciting, the first time, to feel like and be treated like a goddamn independent adult capable of making his own decisions and flying across the country by himself – and I was proud of that. The first few flights, too, only reassured me of my status as an adult. They went smoothly, arrived and departed on time, and everything was beautiful.
This, of course, did not last. Flying back to Stanford after spring break was a nightmare. Let me take you on my journey:
7:30 a.m.: Alarm goes off. I had been jet-lagged the entire break (and didn’t do much to fix it), so I’d fallen asleep at 3 a.m. and thus only slept for four and half hours. Whatever – I could sleep on the plane.
7:45 a.m.: Shower, pack and shovel down some breakfast in record time to get ready to leave at 8:30 a.m. for my 11:55 a.m. flight.
8:30a.m.: Get in car.
8:31 a.m.: Receive email from Virgin America that flight has been delayed by two hours. New departure time is at 1:55 p.m. Get out of car.
8:32 a.m.: Fall back asleep until 10:30.
10:30 a.m.: Have second breakfast of the day.
11 a.m.: Prepare to leave house a second time.
11:01a.m.: Leave house.
11:45a.m.: Arrive at JFK uncomfortably early, because the traffic we anticipated was nonexistent.
12:30 p.m.: The departure gate that I was told to go to now gets swapped with the gate across the walkway. No big deal.
1 p.m.: I learn that a gate has not actually been assigned for my flight yet. Why they told us to go to one gate and then another for no apparent reason, I don’t know.
1:15 p.m.: Gate has been assigned! We’re finally getting somewhere! GATE A5 HERE I COME.
1:34 p.m.: Haha, just kidding. The gate has been changed again. Onward, to Gate B34, i.e. ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE AIRPORT.
1:34:03 p.m.: Mass exodus of travelers across airport to the newly assigned gate.
1:50 p.m.: The doors are opening! Will we actually depart on time?
1:50:04 p.m.: Just kidding, the doors that opened just led to another seating area. This is cruel.
1:59 p.m.: WE’RE BOARDING!!!
2 p.m.: Just kidding! We have to first get on a BUS to get to the airplane, which is apparently sitting in the middle of nowhere.
2:05 p.m.: Bus has been boarded.
2:15 p.m.: Still on the bus. It has begun to heat up rapidly. The plane is right next to us but they’re still doing maintenance checks on it. Here’s hoping we don’t suffocate! 😀
2:23 p.m.: WE’RE FINALLY BOARDING. FOR REAL.
2:30 p.m.: A mother and her daughter have taken the seats next to me. The daughter is reading a book called “A Dog’s Purpose.” I read this book in seventh grade and it messed me up. This child can’t be more than 8 years old.
3:40 p.m.: Hey! Just checking in! We haven’t taken off yet! Haha! I love air travel.
3:42 p.m.: Wait, maybe I spoke too soon. We’re MOVING.
3:42:04 p.m.: Update: We moved … maybe 5 feet. Fantastic.
3:43:00 p.m.: I wonder if taking that bus all the way to California would’ve been faster??
3:43:30 p.m.: I’ve gone through 50 percent of my phone’s battery and half of my Spotify airplane playlist. I have a six-hour flight still ahead of me. Help.
3:44 p.m.: WE’RE TAKING OFF. FINALLY.
If I’d had a family member with me, I could’ve been entertained for all of those hours. But no – I had just me, myself and I. (And the little girl doing her fourth-grade homework to whom I did not speak.) Which is frustrating. But I guess it’s all a part of ~growing up~; learning to deal with awful airport logistics and screw-ups and entire days spent on air travel.
Still doesn’t mean I like it.
Contact Matt Bernstein with more terrible travel experiences at mbernstein ‘at’ stanford.edu.