Monday, July 2, 2018

The Flight From Hell and I'm Running!! (sort of)

It seems like everyone has a nightmare flying story. It may not be as bad as being sucked out of a window or landing on the Hudson, but chances are you've got one. I had (one of) mine flying back from Phoenix last week. What was supposed to be a 1 hour flight turn into 7+ hours. How does that happen, you ask?

We were delayed from the get go, leaving Phoenix almost an hour later due to Frontier crew showing up tardy style. I'm happy to say Frontier is now the new Spirit Airlines, leading the industry in crappy, soul sucking service that nickles and dimes you for every peanut and ice cube. And, then they love to delay and cancel flights just as icing on the cake. They should charge you for that too.

In the air we go and I'm still certain we'll touch down just after lunch time. That's why we brought no food! Because it's supposed to be an hour! That's why I wasn't too desparate to pee before we left. Because it will be one hour!

We approach Denver and that's when the fun began. The "flight deck" (FD) came on saying a huge storm was right over the Denver airport, so we'd have to circle for 45 minutes. That turned into at least an hour.

Finally, I guess the FD got clearance to land, so down went into the turbulent, stomach tossing stormy weather. I am a nervous flier. I do fine until things bounce and dive and shake. Then I sweat, and in this case, start cussing. Loudly. I had one hand on Emma's thigh, one on Ken's. I was digging in. With every drop of the plane, I dropped a nice F-Bomb or at least a "shit!". I've flown a ton and this was some of the worst, if not the worst, turbulence I've been in. The only thing keeping me going was that we had to be close to ground, right? Wrong.

I opened my eyes to look out and we were still high, high up over the Rockies. We continued to swoop and shake as the FD came back on. "Well, folks" the captain said in his best official voice, "We started to land in Denver right as they closed the airport. They told us to circle for another hour while we wait for it to open but we don't have enough fuel for that. So, we're going to land in Grand Junction." Sighs and chatter all around the cabin. Another F-bomb from me.

  • Fact one: I never like to hear the words "we don't have enough fuel for that" while I'm in a plane in the air
  • Fact two: If you don't know Colorado geography, Grand Junction is at the opposite end of the state.

20 minutes later and we're on the ground in Grand Junction. This is a small airport with no gates, so we are stuck on board. Someone throws up in aisle 21 (my only phobia greater than turbulent flying is vomit. Aviophobia + emetaphobia = Beth having a panic attack). Finally we can get up and pee and the aisles are full. I'd really like a beer or a whiskey or something. A stranger gives me a stale Twizzler.

They guy in yellow shirt's expression is how I was feeling

It has now been about 5 hours since we left Phoenix and I am starving. In true Frontier fashion, there are no free drinks or drinks even offered (well, maybe some water during hour six). Not that I'm partial or anything, but I think Southwest would've had free drinks all around. If a nothing else, that would make the passengers more relaxed and happy.

We hang on the ground in Grand Junction to learn they've closed the airport. Again. WTF with this storm?

Finally, we are on our way to Denver. We land pretty smoothly and the entire plane erupts into applause. I do too. Problem is, we're not done yet. We taxi to the gate only to wait on the tarmac for about another hour (no gates available). The kid in the row next to us throws up. Get me out of this f&cking prison already! It's now been 7 hours.

Well, we make it off the flight. It's now 7:30pm. We were supposed to land at 12:30pm. Could be worse! (my favorite expression). I could've had a connection to make! I could be traveling with a screaming baby with crap in their diaper. I, myself, could've had explosive diarrhea! God is good after all!

Moving on. Guess what? I'm running again.

Well, let's just say I'm doing a version of running. I finally got the okay a week ago to give it a shot. The plan was to walk 2 minutes, run 2 minutes up to 16 minutes. So, I donned  my cute running stuff, fired up my GPS and headed to the local lake. The anticipation and excitement was building as I broke into my first run in 7 weeks.

And, if felt like shit!

A pensive runner in her habitat.

It felt like I had never run before in my life. Nothing hurt, I just felt out of shape, stiff and awkward. Oh, the humble road back after being sidelined. I went the next day and did further. And, it was slightly better. Then I went to the trails on Saturday and Sunday, run/hiking for four then five miles. The trails felt a ton better on my body - maybe it's the surface, maybe it's using different muscle groups, I don't know. But, oh-so-slowly my confidence is returning.

The Ragnar Relay (Northwest Passage) is in ten days. I have the shortest legs (no I'm not a midget) with only a total of 13 miles. I think I can swing it. Washington is one of the few states I have not been to (others are Alaska, Hawaii, Alabama, Mississippi). We're staying on Wibdey Island, which I hear is amazing!

Tell me your nightmare flying story

Favorite airline? Southwest. We're taking Alaska Airlines to WA and I hear that's great too

How many states have you been to? 45



  1. Yikes - what a nightmare experience! This is going way back in time for me, but I was once on a Mexicana Airlines (I don’t think they even exist anymore) flight where we ended up making an emergency landing. After a several hour mechanical issue delay, we finally took off, only oddly we weren’t gaining altitude - just kind of rolling steeply from side to side. The pilot came on and informed us that there was an unknown problem with the landing gear, and that we would be preparing for an emergency landing. We were given a quick lesson in bracing for impact and we were told to take off eyeglasses and jewelry. Then the wait began - I’ll never forget how eerily quiet it was - no one said a word until we heard the “Brace!” command from the cockpit. As soon as it became clear that we had functional landing gear and touched down safely, everyone stated cheering - I couldn’t get off that plane fast enough! And yes, I’m a nervous flier as well and this experience did very little to improve that. Xanax is now my key to flying the friendly skies.

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  2. Worst flight experience was coming home from Barcelona - our flight was delayed repeatedly so of course we missed our connection in New York. It took us 28 hours to finally get to Los Angeles. Although I don't remember anyone throwing up, so it could have been worse...

    Favorite airline = Hawaiian, followed closely by Southwest.

    Glad you're running again. I was off 10 weeks from a sprained ankle and it felt like I had never run before when I started back (glad I'm not alone in that feeling.) I'm still struggling, but slowly getting there.

  3. I used to like flying. I used to like being in airports. Back when flying was classy. Then they started to let anyone on airplanes and things went downhill. Don't get me started about airport security theatre. I still like flying, as an experience. I'm calm and relaxed, knowing I'm in one of the safest forms of transit ever invented. I kind of like it when it gets bouncy.
    Favourite airline is Northern Air, though I've only had a few flights on them. (Warm cookies!) West Jet is next. 16 or 17 states, I'm not sure. 8 out of 10 provinces, 1 of 3 territories.

  4. Are you flying to Washington for your race?

    You didn't mention it but i'm sure the plane smelled really bad. B.O. and vomit. I bet when you got off the plane you were gulping fresh air!

  5. Oh my gosh so much of this post resonated with me! My worst flight was also in Colorado. I was flying back from Denver after visiting CU Boulder - I had decided on that trip that was where I was going to go to college - but our flight was delayed a few times then finally canceled because of weather in another city, then hours later we got on a flight at midnight, I was in the middle seat and people around me were TALKING THE WHOLE TIME - on an overnight flight! I was so mad and got no sleep. Then we landed at 7am and my dad (who I was traveling with) made me go right to school. I definitely considered if I really wanted to go to school in Colorado after that knowing I might have to deal with crazy flights every time I came home, but luckily that was the worst!

    Southwest is hands down the best airline!!!! Southwest for life.

    I've been to 40 states and I'm missing all the same ones you are! I am missing pretty much the entire PNW, so I'm planning a big road trip/hiking excursion out there in the next year or so - either the summer before or summer after my 30th birthday!

    Glad to see you're back running again. I was injured this spring too and there is nothing like getting back on the run!!

  6. Worst flying experience was coming from Dallas to NJ two years ago. I arrive at the airport around 10 am to find out my noon flight was delayed 30 minutes. Then another 30. Then an hour. Then another 30 minutes. This went on - death by a thousand cuts airline style - until they eventually cancelled the flight. It was then a madhouse of people scrambling to rebook. The only saving grace was it was work flight and corporate travel rebooked me pretty quickly on another airline, but it was in another terminal and boarding in 15 minutes. So I race out of one terminal to the other - to actually find that flight was delayed. It finally took off a bit after midnight and to make things even more fun, there was no car for me at the airport, so I had to sit there for over an hour until one could be arrive. I got home at 6 a.m.

  7. Alaska Airline is by far the BEST airline. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts when you return from Washington. Good luck and have fun at the Ragnar Relay.
    PS- worst flight & airline for me has always been United

  8. Worst flight: last row, middle seat which did not recline on an 18-hour leg to Sydney Australia. Next to me? "Hi! I'm Mike. I have A.D.D. and I don't sleep. I hope you want to chat. Or we could watch movies together." Mike did not shut up even when I pretended to sleep. It gets worse. An hour after we passes Hawaii there was a medical emergency so we turned around to get to Honolulu but had to circle for an hour dumping fuel before we could land. (The emergency was a very drunk person who needed to get off the flight. grrrrr) Then when we tried to take off away there was a stow-away in the wheel well of the plane. Who then took off all his clothes and ran around naked on the tarmac for an hour. They couldn't catch him because he was all slick from the greasy wheel well. I missed all the excitement of watching the chase because CENTER SEAT FROM HELL. It turned into a 24-hour leg.

    1. OK, I think you just legitimately won the prize for worst flight ever.

  9. I flew into Denver a month ago and the turbulence was so rough that the guy in the aisle seat - two seats away from me- barfed. I was very thankful that it didn't set off a chain reaction. And I'm so excited you're coming to my state to run! I've done Ragnar NW Passsage twice (the course goes right by my home in Bellingham) and it's gorgeous. Hope you have a smooth flight (Alaska is my favorite airline) and a great run!

  10. It's never good when you know how much fuel you do or do not have on a plane! We circled an airport in a snowstorm once, waiting for the runway to be cleared/available. We were already miserable due to the turbulence when the pilot says we have enough fuel to do this for another hour. Fantastic news, pilot, can't wait for the next hour of fun. Meanwhile they are passing full size trash bags up and down the aisles for people to throw up into. Thankfully, I had consumed some bad milk at the airport beforehand and had already thrown up everything in my stomach! Silver lining, I suppose. Plane lands, passengers cheer, I cry in relief and immediately call my mommy because even grown-ass women need their mommy. The good news is that you have a new definition of a 'bad flight', and hopefully that means you'll be a lot less upset at flights in the future now that you've experienced this one. I've certainly relaxed my standards now!

  11. Glad to hear you are back running. Just in time for Ragnar. And the lower elevation should give you a boost.

    Bummer flight, hope the scouting trip was a success though.

    I have had a few less than good flights. One that was not too bad but memorable was years ago, Denver to St.Louis on TWA. Late evening departure. We had to go around several really nasty storms, could see the lighting activity all around. Then lighting hit the right wing (I hear not all that uncommon and usually no big deal, yea right). Anyway, immediately, we dropped what seemed like 10,000 feet, was likely only 100 and everything flickered and the engine sound quieted. No one said a word, though I grabbed onto the guy next to me. About 30 seconds later, everything came back on (seemed far longer of course). Then the captain came on and calmly stated "Sorry about that folks, a little extra disturbance." He paused. Then added, "Drinks on the house." Then after we all had drinks (flight was barely 20% full), the captain personally came back and checked with everyone. Classy. Old school. Miss that.

  12. I had an eerily similar experience (returning to SLC from our honeymoon in BC, no less) where we couldn't land and had to divert to Boise for fuel. I feel your pain. The first and only time I've ever puked on a plane because of the sudden dropping turbulence. THE WORST. But, glad to hear you're running again, and I did the Northwest Passage Ragnar a few years ago - it is my favorite one I've done. Seriously, so beautiful! Good luck!!

  13. Flight from hell is a beautiful and engaging story, I love your story
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