weather-related air traffic delays: a blessing in disguise

A travel tip: if one airline cancels your flight because of bad weather– and another airline says screw it! we’ll get you there!– it might not be as good an idea to buy that ticket as it seems in the moment.

(A secondary tip: don’t read this while eating.)

I was flying home Saturday evening from the absolutely fabulous Mom 2.0 conference in New Orleans, where I met tons of other bloggers and parenting professionals and walked Bourbon Street after 11 p.m., which is decidedly not recommended.

I was exhausted and ready to get home by Saturday evening, and of course it was only once I got to the airport that the FAA announced a four and a half hour delay into JFK airport because of the crazy storms passing through. Sighing, I got a boarding pass on the 6 a.m. flight out the next morning, and was trudging out of the airport to go find a hotel when I passed the always discerning A-List Mom

ME: Can you believe it? Want to share a cab back in to the city?
A-LIST MOM: What are you talking about?

Turned out she was also flying to NYC, but on a different airline, into LaGuardia, with no delay at all. Then it turned out that a walk-up ticket on that flight cost less than two taxis and another night in a hotel would have. I couldn’t believe it! My Sunday with the kids was saved! I skipped down the jetway and boarded, caring not that I was in a middle seat of the narrowest row I had ever seen. I was on my way home, and after a slightly cramped two hours, the pilot intoned, “We have about 20 minutes till we land. It might be a little bumpy. Flight attendants, please be seated.”

You know those old wooden roller coasters that hurl you from side to side in a way that is really not all that fun, it kind of hurts, and their ricketiness starts to frighten you a little?
Imagine riding one of those. For NINETY MINUTES.

For the first half hour, I sat there with my eyes scrunched shut, saying Iwillnotthrowup Iwillnotthrowup Iwillnotthrowup. Then my seatmate, who had been gripping her armrests all this time, said “wait a minute! The airport was right there and now we’re flying up again!” and I couldn’t wait any longer. Clearly it was going to be a while. I lost my lunch. 

I felt better afterwards, if a little awkward, sitting there with my airsickness bag. I rolled it up carefully, not sure what else to do with it,  and pulled out my iPhone- if I couldn’t read or look at anything, I could at least listen. I put on The Longshot Podcast, my absolute favorite, sure to have me laughing and forgetting my woes. And it did, until about ten minutes in:

GUY ON PODCAST: So, I was at Ikea? And you know how they have those meatballs? Man, those meatballs are disgusting. And they’re right by the exit so you have to LOOK at them. And they just smell so disgusting.

I pull off my headphones. Too late. I vomit some more. Take a deep breath. Wait until that topic of discussion will have passed. Put my headphones back on.

OTHER GUY ON PODCAST: …those meatballs really ARE disgusting. That freaking gravy? It’s like…

Pull off the headphones. Yak a little more. Wait ten seconds. Put headphones back on.

GUEST: Wow, that’s an interesting question… what are my favorite kind of disgusting meatballs. Hmm…

I pull off the headphones for good, and sit there for the rest of the flight, between two strangers, with my big bag of vomit. We circled the city for another white-knuckled thirty minutes before landing in the hardest rain we had seen yet.

Still, my flight experience could have been worse. Mamabird Diaries was on that same flight, and she thought she was going to die. I didn’t give that too much concern- I was more focused on what would happen if my airsickness bag wasn’t sufficiently reinforced. Oh, and being grateful that I didn’t have my kids with me (again, not because they’d die, but because no way they wouldn’t have hurled.)

Lots of hooting and hollering when we landed. There’s no place like home.

The paperback version of When Did I Get Like This? hits stores tomorrow! You can pre-order here if you can’t wait even one more day: