Thursday, August 5, 2010

Flying the Friendly Skies to the Azores

Our airline to Terceira - Sata Airlines, sister to TAP Airlines

We got to the Oakland airport an hour early than what was required, which really was a good idea since we avoided the long line of passengers and over-stuffed suitcases-we were not the exception. All I can say is that we were very thankful that my daughter's boyfriend came with us to the airport to help carry my mom's overstuffed suitcase full of shoes to the terminal--if he hadn't been there, I don't know what we would have done. I just don't understand why Oakland International is set up the way it is. You have to basically park your car, and lug all your luggage with you across the street to the terminal. We looked like a band of Gypsies--I'm not exaggerating. Even Nicholas was lugging a suitcase behind him on the crosswalk, and I don't know if you have ever noticed this before, but people going to the airport are not the most courteous people. They are all anxious, and in a hurry, and aren't very patient with you at crosswalks.

Anyway, we got ourselves at the terminal and got checked in. We said our tearful goodbyes to my husband and my daughter's boyfriend. I hate saying goodbye--not a good feeling. I knew my husband would be meeting us on the island three weeks later, but it is never easy, when you are flying so far away, and you begin to think of all the bad things that could happen, but try not to, but air travel can always be a little tense. Anyway, in our state of of sadness we of course passed our gate and found ourselves going in the wrong direction, lugging our carrier bags, and my mom's three purses. (Yes my mom has a thing for purses too.) I got stuck holding my son's skateboard the whole time at the airport, and Lizzy said I looked like I was a "skater girl" from behind, and kept on singer Avril Lavigne's "Skater Boy" the whole time. I liked the idea, even though I have never skated on a actual skateboard in my whole entire life.

We decided to go to the Mexican restaurant and kill some time at the airport and eat something, because we all knew that the airline food was not going to be very appetizing. We were right.

For some odd reason, the travel agent who promised me seats for my family AND MY MOM together on the plane GOOFED once again, and she had my mom sitting by herself 5 rows ahead of me. I was a little worried about how that would work out, but by the time we got on the plane, I noticed that I had a clear view of my mom up ahead of me. I could see the top of her head, and her gold shoes, and her matching gold purse. I helped her store her other two carry ons, and I was happy to see that she was seated by a nice younger guy. She seemed safe enough, and for a moment there I was happy that she wasn't sitting next to me. I know that sounds awful, but to tell you the truth the woman had been driving me crazy the past few days, and I think we both deserved a break from each other, if you know what I mean...

The trip to the Azores was a 10 hour adventure. After 5 hours in flight, we landed in Hamilton for about a hour(somewhere in eastern Canada), the plane was re-fueled, the flight crew was changed, and the toilets were inspected and cleaned, and then another 4 hour flight until landing in Terceira, Azores. During this course of flight we had the usual characters:

Character #1: "The guy who can't stop getting out of his/her seat."

Character #2: "The guy who can't stop calling for the stewardess"

Character #3: "The guy who can't stop talking"

Character #4: "The guy who won't stop blocking the aisle"

Character #5: "The guy who can't stop hovering over the passengers"

Character #6: "The guy who can't stop drinking"

Character #7: "The rude, the bad and the smelly" (my least favorite)

I've written about this experience before, and I should know the drill by now. But every trip surprises me. When you share a plane with 150+ strangers for 10 hours, you best be polite and friendly with them. I wish everyone followed the rule, but sadly, there are still people who believe the rule should not apply to them.

Character #1: This person will constantly get in and out of their seat non-stop! This person of course sits at a window seat, or in one of the middle seats. Fortunately for me, I sat with my kids, at the end, but I was witnesses to quite a few character #1's from where I was sitting. This person will go to the bathroom constantly, and can turn into a Character #5 very quickly. They can also become Character #7-nastiest of them all!

Character #2: I had this one in front of me. This woman was constantly calling the stewardess for various reasons, from "I'm too cold" to "I need an aspirin" to, "Where I can I find a good grocery store on the island?" Although the steward was very nice to her, I could tell by the end of the flight, by thelook on his face, he was more than overjoyed to see this woman finally get off the plane. I wasn't too fond of her either, because she kept on pulling her seat down and then up during the entire flight. I was surprised however when we had landed because she suddenly turned to me and complimented Nicholas for being such a good boy on the flight. Any compliment for my son Nicholas is truly treasured--believe me--that is another story.

Character #3: Most annoying! These people talk, and talk, and talk... Unfortunately, I had a few of these surrounding me. No wonder I can never fall asleep on these flights! There is always some annoying woman or man talking non-stop for 10 hours in my ear. They have always seem to have the most annoying high pitched voices, and they cackle like chickens. Call me anti-social, but I will not start a conversation with you if I don't know you. I'm on a plane, and I'm trying to sleep, and I don't want to hear about how many cows you own in Modesto or Turlock, and I am not interested to hear about all the family members you know on the island and whether or not we may be related. I had this woman talking non-stop to the guy next to her, and then she somehow convinced the guy to move from his seat so she could have her friend sit near her so she could talk more to her..

Character #4: The guy who blocks the aisle. I could go on and on about these people. They think it's necessary to stand in the middle of the aisle for no good reason. It doesn't matter if the stewards are trying to serve breakfast, lunch or dinner, they have to stand there like a statue. This is most annoying when they are standing by the video monitor, and you are trying to watch a movie, and their stupid head is just standing there near the screen. You want to throw a pillow at their head or something, and you try to stare them down, but they won't budge.

Character #5: The hovering people--oh my God. These people get out of their seats, go search a friend and stand there to talk to them non-stop. They will stand there, over you, just hovering like a hungry seagull, as they talk and talk and talk to their friend. I wish I took the picture of one poor victim to character #5. Poor girl had an aisle seat next to this guy who had a window seat. She was surrounded by 4 different men. One was standing behind her seat, the other was directly in front of her, and there was another guy who was seated in front of her who was standing over his seat. The poor girl was surrounded. What did she do? She was working on a crossword puzzle, listening to her Ipod. I stared in disbelief waiting for this poor girl to make at least one facial expression of dissatisfaction to her plight, but nothing. What a trooper! She must have been a true veteran of such trans-Atlantic flights--Ipod in hand-she was prepared!

Character #6: Yes, character #6 likes to drink. He drinks a lot-probably to calm his in-flight nerves. Fortunately for us, we didn't see much of these, but there was one guy who liked to visit the bar at the back of the plane. He wasn't too happy to learn that there are new rules that include a limit in alcoholic beverages to be served on the plane--especially two hours before landing. He settled on 7-Up eventually after being told more than 3 times that they no longer had more wine. Yes, character #6 can also be Character #1-because he/she is constantly in line for the bathroom as well. He can also become all characters simintaneously at the same time which can be quite scary! The stewards and stewardesses tried to make everyone happy however, with their constant walks up and down the aisle offering "cha" (tea) or "cafe" (coffee) in small little plastic cups...

Character #7: The rude, the bad and the smelly.. Yes, while standing in line to use one of the 3 working toilets on the plane, one woman thought she needed to use the bathroom more than I did, and literally tried to push me aside. I told her however, that I was in line, and I haltered her before she took my toilet. It amazes me how some people act in planes sometimes. I guess being in a plane for 10 hours makes everyone less polite, and smelly.. Why don't planes carry deodorant in the bathroom? Why? I mean, it would be so much better. Some people sweat like high heaven on planes--especially the characters #1, 3, & 4.. Please someone take note! The bathroom line is the worst. People will cut in front of you, and if you are so fortunate to be sitting near the toilets, you have the "pleasure" of hearing the conversations between the people who are waiting for the toilets. You also get to be hovered. OOhh..and let me not forget the RUSH to the toilets before the plane arrives on the final destination, when all the ladies have a need to run to the mirror and "pretty up" before they see their relatives at the airport.

After 10 hours of flight, how can anyone look good? Really? I tried to sleep as much as I could, but I think I only had 45 minutes sleep if any. I was constantly interrupted by the noise of the plane, and it's people. I tried different methods to sleep--even sleeping on my elbows, only to find two enormous red spots on my cheeks. Not very attractive. On average, everyone on the plane looked like hell.

After a round of applause once we landed on the island, we all bustled out of the plane, down the stairs to the bus that awaited us at the bottom of the runway. The bus would take us to the terminal where our passports would be stamped, and where the luggage was waiting for us. The first person we see at the bottom of the stairs was my niece Joana, who is an employee of the airline. Lizzy and Andrew were not expecting to see their cousin Joana directing them towards the bus. They both did double takes, and upon realizing who they both were, starting hugging and kissing.
It was a nice hello from such a long journey.

Once we got into our bus (there were two full buses loaded by the passengers of our plane), we got to look at the people we shared the last 10 hours with, and we all looked like hell, but it didn't' seem to bother the loved ones that were waiting for us at our final destination. We all got kissed and hugged just the same...

It's always fun to arrive to your final destination--especially when you have happy, pretty people waiting for you there.


Missie said...

I haven't flown very much and I've never flown out of the country. When I do fly again next, I will remember this entry and secretly give the other passengers titles. LOL

Anonymous said...

My last train ride was on a packed train with Character 3 & 7 combined next to me.

Lori said...

Very funny entry. Love your descriptions of your fellow passengers.

Rob B said...

I had a really good laugh at your descriptions of various passengers. I see the hovering men every time I fly to the Azores.

By the way, when you landed in Hamilton, you were very close to Niagara Falls, Ontario (about a 30 minute drive).

I'm really looking forward to seeing more pictures of your Azores vacation.

Kind Regards