Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Flight Back from Kauai:

After spending a week in Kauai, I came home on a nonstop flight from Honolulu to Salt Lake. It was the "red eye" flight that leaves at 10:15 at night and arrives in Salt Lake the next morning. I usually prefer the flight because it allows me to spend an extra day enjoying paradise. Also, because it doesn't stop in LA, I don't have to wait for a connecting flight.

I was holding a "standby" ticket and felt lucky to get one of the last seats on the plane. Unfortunately it was in the middle of the row between two enormous people, both of whom hung over the armrests into seat ā€œ42Dā€ which - of course - turned out to be my seat. When the flight attendants did a seat count to let the standby passengers on the plane, I'm surprised they even noticed the seat wasn't occupied. I had to tuck myself into it like a thong swimsuit on John Goodman's butt.

Sinking into what I trusted was my seat below, I was surprised to find that one or perhaps both of the people next to me smelled of garlic! It smelled like they had both eaten nothing but garlic over the past week or so until their bodies exuded the odor through their skin. It wasn't at all pleasant and I doubt I will ever enjoy or even eat garlic again. Now and then I managed to fight my way to the surface of my prison to try to adjust the air nozzle above me...each time I tried to stay up as long as possible only to tire and submerge back into the folded depths of hell.

The flight was apparently more comfortable for them than for me. They both managed to fall peacefully asleep soon after takeoff, apparently un-aware of the weight and misery their bodies were causing me. They stayed nearly unconscious until we landed 6 hours later. I on the other hand, without being able to use either armrest, found the flight impossible for sleeping; my entire weight resting upon my lower back and tailbone. I was forced to stare straight ahead, unable to even turn my head to the right or the left. At first I tried to take comfort in the thought that if the plane crashed, I would probably survive; packed and insulated by these pillowy passengers. After about 4 hours into the flight I began having some sort of a panic or anxiety attack...not that the plane would crash but rather that the plane wouldn't crash. I was convinced that crashing was the only way I would survive.

I tried yelling and screaming but muffled as I was I couldn't make myself heard from beneath the mountainous folds of my tomb. Perhaps I was so hysterical that anybody that did hear me just assumed they were hearing a baby crying with a gas bubble. Numb from the neck down and apparently paralyzed too, I couldn't move or kick hard enough to wake either of the sleeping mammoths. I eventually passed out and began hallucinating with visions of being crushed to death by elephants.

By some miracle, I found myself alive when the plane landed at 8:07 A.M. in Salt Lake City. Expectedly, they unloaded the plane from the front and my companions waited patiently until everyone else on the plane was unloaded - even those behind us - before either one of them stood up to free me.

As they waited, one took out a package of gum and offered it to me. I declined; she then asked if I would pass the package to her husband on the other side of me!!! What the hell? They were husband and wife!

They had probably been seated next to each other and one had moved over to the other isle seat before the flight attendant had done the final seat count. The husband had given me an odd look when I told him my seat was 42D. Now it was too horrible for my mind to comprehend all at once.

Although I wanted to, I wasn't able to jump up when they finally moved. All I could manage was to hobble and stumble out of the plane. I'm still traumatized by the experience.

May - 2003