I arrived at Dublin Airport 2 1/2 hours before my flight’s scheduled departure and had one last cigarette before walking in. It takes about 90 minutes to check in and to get through both pre-boarding screening (Irish and American.) The luggage scanned twice; shoes and belt come off twice, laptop out of the bag, etc. Then it’s about 20 minutes to get through US Customs, and it’s time to board the plane.
There’s a mechanical problem that turns into a 30-minute delay, but cleared for take off and I sit for seven excruciating hours flying to JFK airport in NYC. I sat next to a lovely woman from New Orleans, who watched three movies (romantic comedies) during the flight and didn’t speak to me until we were about to land. I Arrived safely in NYC – not much worse for the wear. Then waited two hours for the flight to Orlando, but not enough time to get beyond security at JFK for a smoke – that’s fine I thought, it’s only 2 ½ hours to Orlando.
This flight was not so smooth. Turbulence and bumps most of the way, but I was sufficiently medicated and fought through it. As we are on our final approach, the pilot makes an announcement that we need to circle a bit because of weather in Orlando. “A bit” turns into three hours of circling in the clouds with Flight Attendants in their seats because of the bumps. Oy.
As the minutes and then hours tick away, my medication begins to wear off. Then the pilot comes back on to announce that we have run out of fuel and must divert to Daytona Beach to refuel IF (he said IF) we’re going to land in Orlando. So off to Daytona Beach we go.
We land and try to approach the gate – but the something or other that allows the plane to maneuver on the ground without the use of the engines has broken. We really can’t pull up to the gate, we meander over to the refueling station. After an hour, the pilot announces that he’s not certain when they will clear us for landing in Orlando. He does state that the thingy that would get us to the gate has been replaced and to the walkway we go. He says that anyone who wants to get off the plane may, BUT checked luggage would still fly to Orlando. Several people take him up on his offer, and I thought about running off that tube myself. But alas I opted for staying on – why the hell not.
We spent 100 minutes in Daytona – I know because I was looking at my watch the entire time. The pilot announces that the storm now passing through Orlando isn’t as severe as the previous ones and that we have been cleared to take off (from Daytona Beach) and land in Orlando. For the third time that day I suffer through take off and in less than optimal weather. The flight is quick, rough, and very very quiet. Lightning strikes all around, folks on board ooh and ah and the light show going on outside. At long last we land BUT the thingy that gets us to the gate isn’t working again and we have to wait 20 minutes to park at the gate.
Terra firma, but my synapses are screaming for nicotine, and the Ativan has completely worn off. I shuffle off the plane, run to the train and after 21 hours of walking into Dublin airport, I’m finally outside with my Camel and lighter.
It’s been 36 hours since I landed. I know that for most those flights would have been nothing more than an inconvenience. But for someone addicted to nicotine and terrified of flying – well Homer said that “the Journey’s the thing” and in this case – the journey was a bitch.
I’m driving to New Orleans.