Tag Archives: United Airlines

Really Long Flight


About 13+ hours, for example….. Dulles to DXB is long.  Really long.  And on a big plane.  As I stood around the gate at the Dulles Airport, I looked at the people that were gonna be my plane-mates for the next brazillion hours, and they were a motley looking crew, for sure.  YOUNG folks looking about 12… OK, maybe 18 at the outside, traveling alone.  TBG says my viewpoint of peoples’ ages is skewed, but I swear they looked young.  People in national dress that I didn’t recognize.  Turbans.  Tons of bushy moustaches, women in head scarves of various wrapping and patterns.  Small children and infants.   And a lot of just regular-looking  (to me) people too, so I kind of felt this little bit of relief.

Until I figured out that they were boarding by groups,…… currently boarding group “A”.  I checked my boarding pass and realized I was in for a bit of a wait – mine said group “F”.  There’s a lot to be said for Southwest Airlines’ boarding process…. You line up in your little slot and then get on the plane.  No jostling for position at the gate.

I’d asked my travel agent for an aisle seat, which she arranged, even with the date changes and delay.  The aircraft was a big ole thing,  and judging by the sheer number of people at the gate, and not counting how many had already boarded, it was gonna be crowded.  Great.

To entertain myself while I waited (and was still wearing the *ultra-cool* flip flop shoes from the pedicure place)  Image

I was taking a mental inventory of all the stuff I had in my backpack and carryon, thinking of what I might need/want for the next half a day, and trying to make sure that it was all in the backpack which would be under the seat in front of me, or in my scottevest which I was wearing, and not in my carryon – except for the change of clothes and toiletries that I had packed.  I thought it would be fabulous to be able to greet TBG wearing a fresh change of clothes, makeup and at least combed hair.  My plan was that an hour before landing, I would snag my suitcase from the overhead, make a quick change of clothes in the lav, and put on fresh makeup.  I refused to wear makeup on the flight over, thinking I’d be sleeping a great deal with an eyemask on, that would wreak havoc with any makeup, right?

“Now boarding all groups, all groups including group F”….. gate announcement.  OK, here we go.  I’m about to leave the country again, but this time to go live someplace else.  The word “expat” crossed my mind, but I didn’t want to panic so I focused on making sure I had boarding pass ready for the gate agent to scan.

Again, I had an economy-plus seat (thanks, Honey!!) with some extra legroom.  Thank goodness, because my knees were literally *against* the seat packet in front of me…… mercy sakes.  Three across, I was situated in the middle section – here’s the seating chart…..


Not bad, generally smooth flying location, and won’t have to climb over anyone to stroll about the cabin when the “unfasten seatbelts” light comes on.  Or the “fasten seatbelts” light goes off.  Wait.  OK, when I’m allowed to take off the dang seatbelt, it’ll be easier for me to move around.  Sheesh.  And, the middle seat was empty!  Oh joy – perhaps I’ll actually get some sleep, and be able to stretch out a bit, fabulous.  The gent in the far seat looked at me, the empty seat and said quizzically “Perhaps we shall have good fortune?”  I told him perhaps we would!

No joy.  A gent from coach that told the flight attendant that he thought he’d paid for an economy-plus seat plopped down, stating that the FA would likely be along to collect the money for this change.  Likeable gent, but I was so looking forward to those few precious extra cubic feet of space.  Not to be.  I settled in for a long trip, and since my toenails were now dry, I put on my black fuzzy mickey mouse travel socks.  I wanted to be comfy.  I looked around, and I swear, as soon as people got seated, they ditched their shoes – it was funny.  Anyhow, I familiarized myself with the TV screen thing in the back of the seat ahead of me, how the tray table worked, what all the stuff was in the seatback pocket, slapped on some chapstick, and tucked my water bottle into a scottevest pocket.  Thought I’d nap a bit.

I swear this was one of the roughest flights I’ve ever been on – there was probably a total of about 2 hours when the “fasten seat belt” sign was NOT on – crazy.  Supper was not good, some chicken thing that was sooo spicy I could not eat it. Thank goodness for a yummy roll with creamy butter and some rice.  I was in a carb coma by then and napped for about an hour or so.  Woke, watched 2 episodes of Mad Men on my ipad and dug into the backpack to see what snacks Mama had packed.

TBG says “If your Mama always provided the snacks in our house, we’d BOTH be big as a house!!” – in his TBG way, that’s high praise.  And deserved from this batch too – walnuts with sweet raisins, I had to share with my seatmate, who was floored.  “Your MAMA did this???”   He was impressed with the mustard sourdough pretzel bits as well – my Mama can flat *do* some snacks now!

A glass of cranapple juice from the FA (who were *all* grumpy on this flight, BTW…. Wonder what was up with that??) along with a couple of biscuits (cookies, for the non-English) initiated another carb coma, and another hour-long nap….. woke and checked the little airplane on the seat back in front of me – holy cow!  We’re almost there!!  So close that it’s time to consider changing clothes – wait.  They had to be put in the overhead on the side of the plane, not in the center section…. That means climbing over people, and inconveniencing folks….. prolly just gonna freshen up and makeup and call it done.

Got back to my seat, and my seatmate said “Goodness, you look nice!  How long have you and your husband been married??” I told him and he seemed genuinely surprised – I suppose a marriage lasting over 30 years is unheard of in today’s world.  He commented “lucky man” and went back to his movie.  I sat back and thought…  “Nah, lucky *me*.”

The packing at Mama’s


I’d mailed a bunch of boxes to myself at my Mama’s address…… stuff that I wanted to take to Dubai with me but that I didn’t want to pay excess baggage charges for in the US – they don’t have the “first bag flies free” deal here,,,,,,,  so I mailed them to myself.  Cheaper, right?  I thought I was being pretty dang smart…… oh, and I’d bought this really cool thing called a ScottEvest – holy COW do travelers need this puppy!  Go to their website, http://www.scottevest.com/ and take a look – I had read about them on another travel blogger’s website, forget which one, sorry.  But they came very highly recommended, for sure.  So, I hunted down the discount codes (surely you didn’t think I was gonna pay full price, now did you??) and ordered one for me and TheBigGuy.  Sucker is awesome – holds my ipad, iphone, headphones, wallet, camera, bottle of water, keys, passport, id, lip balm, eyedrops, just about anything you can imagine, and it does it really comfortably and without feeling like a packhorse.  Just get one, I had my friend Donna try mine on fully loaded, and she said “Heck people would be taking this to the ball fields, shopping on BlackFriday, everything!”  With coupons, it was about $75, and easily carried enough stuff to fill a carryon bag.  OK, not *fill* but allow you room for other stuff, plus, your stuff was on you, easily accessible.  Plus, you just take it off, lay it on the bucket deal going through security, and you’re done.  Fabulous, and worth every penny.


The boxes I’d mailed myself finally started trickling in after about 10 days (!) most ended up arriving looking like this……


Thanks, US Postal Service!!!

When ALL of the parcels that I’d mailed to myself from Dothan, Alabama finally arrived at Mama’s house, (total of 17 DAYS transit time!!) we busted out the brand-spanking new luggage I’d bought at Sam’s Club.  Big, cavernous Samsonite futuristic-looking stuff, all shiny and smooth composite looking.  I’d measured it beforehand to make certain that they were within the major airlines’ size limitations.

Packing stuff was weird – I was trying to distribute things between cases weight-wise, but also in case that one was lost, not all my clothes were in it, nor all of TBG’s – I was trying to spread around the potential grief…. so giant Ziploc bags to the rescue.  Plus, it makes it easier for TSA to view what’s in there, without actually pawing through all my panties, you see?


About this time, Mama was starting to come to terms with the fact that this was really happening, that I was really moving to the other side of the planet.  This was not easy for either of us, but I think she’s finally come to terms with it in some way.  But there were still tears and a bunch of sadness, for sure.

I had read that shipping a #50 case was $100, but #51 – 70 went up DRAMATICALLY.  So we did the “stand on the scale without the suitcase, then pick it up and weigh again” trick on Mama’s bathroom scales.  Multiple times.  I was nervous about this since one leg of the trip wouldn’t accept luggage over #50 at all.  Fabulous, we were #10 under on one case, #2 on the other two – excellent!

OK, we’re all ready.  All packed, weighed, I’ve gone over the list of what I can and can’t take into the UAE to make sure I’m not  taking any contraband in – I THINK I’m ready.