Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

There is a particular SEINFELD episode that I try to watch before I travel. It's the one where Jerry and Elaine fly home to New York City. Jerry gets bumped into first class while Elaine flies coach and suffers every flying injustice--the middle seat, a cranky flight attendant, the long restroom line, lost baggage. I watch this episode before I travel because I'm always certain it will be the last time I laugh until I reach my destination.

I do love to travel.  Really, I do.  I just hate the travel part, particularly on planes. That's because no matter where I go, there will inevitably be a bizzarro travel story to report back to my husband.  Don't get me wrong--I always offer up a silent prayer whenever my plane touches down, and there have been flights when I wanted to kiss the ground, but I have had so many weird and wacky experiences, it's hard to know where to begin.  And they always happen when I travel alone, rarely when Craig and I travel together.

A recent favorite was a Phoenix to Dallas flight when I sat next to a woman with three tiny barking dogs (I'm allergic to dogs) crammed in a crate underneath her seat.  The lovely gal was kind enough to discard her empty fast food containers, Venti-sized Starbucks frappuccino cup, and used tissues on my seat before I sat down, leaving me holding her garbage in my lap till the flight attendant could assist.  Then she proceeded to eat a full slab of barbecue ribs from the airport concession, talking while she ate, after which she pulled out 12-inch long steel knitting needles, making me wonder why I had to give up my half-used tube of my favorite shade of pale pink lipstick at the Security checkpoint. 

It's always fun to talk about Travel Stories from Hell after they happen.  At least I know it is for my husband.  Whenever he picks me up from the airport, his first question is always, "Well, what happened this time?" as he surveys my frazzled face.

So what about you? Any hellish travel stories? The mode of transportation doesn't matter--planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships.  Hit me with your best shot! Please.  I need a laugh.  I have to get on a plane tomorrow.


Elisa Dane said...

Oh, good Lord! That woman sounds like a nightmare!

My crit partner and I flew to Orlando for RWA's national conference. The majority of the flight was okay, up until the last hour. Orlando was experiencing some major thunderstorms, and of course we were unable to land. We circled the airport for 30 minutes flying through massive turbulance that lifted my butt out of the seat each time the plane dropped. Not fun!

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Lisa!

She was a total nightmare. And totally clueless.

Oy, I've been on flights in thunderstorms where your stomach feels like it's going to drop. I always want to kiss the ground after those flights! Scary!!

Angelina Rain said...

I’m absolutely petrified of heights, so I flew on a plane only once, when I was a child. Your travel story is a bit scary. Holding a stranger’s trash!!! No way in---! And since when do they allow dogs with the people? I thought they have to be in the cargo area. That does sound like the worst flight ever.

Liz Fichera said...


Yes, she was lovely. There was no place else to put her trash except on me--till the flight attendant came around.

Dogs of a certain size, at least on American Airlines flights, can fly undernreath your seat, so long as the crate fits. These dogs of hers were the size of rats. Apparently it was my responsibility to call the airlines beforehand and inquire if the passenger seated next to me had dogs. Who knew?

Can't blame you for staying off planes!!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Traveling stresses me out. I want to go places, just hate the getting there part. That Seinfeld episode is hilarious, one of my favorites too.

Liz Fichera said...


I've seen that particular SEINFELD episode 1000 times and still laugh. Although I could probably say that about most of the SEINFELD episodes! I'm a huge fan.

Maria Zannini said...

I could write a book on my misadventures. LOL.

One of those stories is in a book, an anthology called More Sand In My Bra.

You might consider subbing your story to the publisher, Travelers Tales.


They are slow to respond, but very nice to work with.

Dru said...

I don't have a story to tell, but every time I get ready to travel (in 2 weeks), there's always an airplane incident. Always.

Liz Fichera said...


That book title is hilarious and I've seen the cover on your blog, I think. I will definitely check it out. :-) Thanks for the info!

Liz Fichera said...


Same here! I think I'm cursed.

Talli Roland said...

Oh my goodness! That's crazy!

I don't think I have anything to top that one, thankfully!

Liz Fichera said...


I wouldn't wish that woman who sat next to me on anyone!

Marianne Arkins said...

Thankfully, my flights have typically been uneventful (didn't love the one where I sat between two VERY obese men who snored ... but it could have been worse).

Good luck -- wishing you a quiet, calm flight.

Liz Fichera said...

Hi Marianne,

I wish I could say the same! I am definitely cursed with bad flying karma.

I did arrive (thank god) safely in Chicago, although I do have one rather hilarious incident to report. It's hilarious now--it wasn't so funny at the time. I'll save that for a later post! :-)

notesfromnadir said...

I'm confused as to why you had to give up a tube of pink lipstick? Did some1 think you'd write on the airplane windows w/ it?

Liz Fichera said...


I have no clue. Your guess is as good as mine. It would seem to me though that knitting needles could be more dangerous than half a tube of pale pink lipstick. I assume the TSA had their reasons.