I am committed to cheap travel. That covers a lot of ground in terms of what I am willing to endure to go where I want every few years.
I go off-season, I land in Milan, I book early, and it only takes 40,000 Alaska Airline miles to do it. All that happens before I even start thinking about where my travel underwear is. This trip required a change of departure date, and to travel on the requested days I had to overnight in Miami. I have two cousins there so I saw it as an opportunity. Stopovers mid country are de rigueur. Red-eye flights are all I ever fly, actually, I think they use the airport for ice hockey during the day, so really, no big deal. Getting everything done before I leave, now that is the trick. I worked like a beaver til I walked out the door and Kevin vacuumed the stairs so we could leave on time. I had a packet of papers, some stamps, a few envelopes and a needle and spool of thread (for pants hemming somewhere along the line), oh and a copy of Conversational Italian since I never really practiced as much as I planned.
Sleep evaded me ALL NIGHT LONG from ANC to ORD (even though l had an entire row to lay down in), then I conked completely out the minute I boarded to Miami. I got the COW sales tax completed, and the payment to the Heart Institute, and the letter cancelling my gym membership mailed from the hotel and felt like I could finally get into travel mode mentally. That may be why I printed an out-of-date itinerary and didn’t notice until 2.5 hours before the flight, that my boarding pass said something else. So my lunch date with cousin Michael was out of the question, and making it on time to the airport was in. I did make it with time for a Cubano coffee and cuz met me at the gate! Now that does not happen anymore with security, but as he said, “I have my ways.” It was uplifting and fun to visit, so the snafu turned out alright. I was on my way to JFK and departure to Milan.
For no reason I can ascertain I was in possession of a Priority ticket. Not just a TSA precheck, which is always a delight, but a Priority standing on the last leg. Certain that was a mistake, or just a marketing ploy by American Air to bolster my self-esteem, I waited to board until my Group number was called when I noticed I had no Group number. A quick check in with the counter and I was whisked on to the plane. She had me moving so fast I couldn’t get my passport quick open to show the gate attendant, though she saw it in my hand and waved me in. So much for security checks.
Speaking of security checks…smoked salmon entering Chicago required a full stop, a bag unpacking, and an explosives wipe down. Maybe they thought I was a Cleveland Indians fan. Salmon leaving Florida…. an eye squint at the x-ray machine and a wave of the hand. Barely enough time to get from one gate to the next and I was boarding in JFK. Starting to feel the pinch of travel without sleep and sleep without rest. But, this was the last leg- I was almost there.
Milan landing is a blur, but the unhappy middle-aged toddler in the seat in front of me is in sharp focus still. Half the plane was full of Italians as was the row in front of me. The fellow directly in front of me found it difficult to get to sleep, even though he was reclined within an inch of my nose, and he was apparently quite disturbed by this inconvenience which he expressed through dramatic, exaggerated movements and sighs. For example: Throwing one’s full weight against the back of the seat repeatedly while sighing loudly, throwing one’s blanket into the air and snapping it back down around oneself ( as much as coach seating allows), lifting one’s self up by the armrests and plopping one’s self down as firmly as possible, with or without accompanying sighs. It got annoying after a while. I contemplated my options:
- Politely ask him to please stop banging the back of the seat
- Not so politely asking him to knock it off
- Yelling in English, “Settle Down Buddy!”
- Shouting, “BASTA!”
- Asking the Attendant to ask him to settle down
- Repenting my anger I considered praying for him to be able to sleep. I actually spent a moment doing that.
With NO thought involved— the next time he banged against the seat I banged right back on the headrest. Things settled down after that. I felt no remorse. I really needed some sleep.