After taking a pre-departure selfie with my mom and just barely having my bag weigh less than 50 pounds, I was on my way. For the first time in my last several trips, TSA didn’t grill me about my epi-pens, so I thought my day was going to be a good day. Well, that was about the only good thing to come from Omaha. (With the exception of my flight not getting cancelled.) I found my gate, plugged in my phone, and played some solitaire. Then things got weird. People started walking off a plane at a nearby gate. But they didn’t look relieved. Most of them were pissed. A couple guys who sat next to me while I was waiting for my flight to Newark told me that their flight to Chicago was scheduled to leave around 2:00 p.m. It was now approaching 4:15. They boarded like nothing was wrong, then two hours later while they were still on the tarmac, the plane came back to the gate and unloaded all the passengers. The announcements over the intercom said that they weren’t going to cancel the flight, but they suggested that people try to get different flights out of Omaha, but not to Chicago, because a storm was brewing and wasn’t going away. But the time the two gentlemen finished telling me their frustrations about their flight, I realized that it was 4:30—the time that my flight was supposed to start boarding. I looked over at my gate and nothing. We were set to leave at 4:55, but by the looks of things, that wasn’t happening.
Now me? I started to mildly panic because I knew that I only had an hour layover in Newark. To make things even better, my connecting flight from Newark to Edinburgh was on the exact opposite side of the airport. We started boarding at 4:45 and sat on the plane for an hour before we were in the air, 30-40 minutes of that was sitting on the tarmac. I don’t exactly remember. I fell asleep for a few minutes and when I woke up, we were in the exact same place. I became more and more paranoid through the flight. The lack of air conditioning didn’t exactly help that. (I overheard an attendant say that the temperature control was broken.) I couldn’t sleep. I would be checking my phone every few minutes. I calculated that we were going to land around 9:00 ET. My connecting flight was set to board at 9:05. Thankfully I wasn’t the only person on my flight heading to Edinburgh. An outstanding seven or eight of us were desperate to catch our plane. But making it wasn’t going to be easy… at least that’s the situation that presented itself. When we landed in Newark, there wasn’t an onramp driver (or whatever it’s called) anywhere nearby. We were all standing in the aisle with our bags, fanning ourselves with whatever we could. Me? I used my hands. The woman behind me used her boarding pass. The woman in front of me used a book. 10-15 minutes went by before we were let off. It was now 9:30 and I had 10 minutes to make my way across the entire Newark airport to catch my flight. Luckily for me, one of my friends and classmates, Ryan, was boots on the ground at the gate where we were headed. I messaged him for updates (and kind of venting frustrations. Sorry Ryan) and he said they hadn’t starting boarding yet. Sigh of relief. I still needed to get over there. Once I made my way off the plane, I hustled down to the shuttle bus that went from terminal to terminal. 9:40. We were still at the stop waiting for people to board. Our flight was supposed to be done boarding by now. It took 10 minutes or so (but it felt so much longer) to get to our terminal. And our gate was the one at the end of the never-ending hallway. I took off, backpack on and duffle bag slung across one shoulder. And I ran the whole way there. Pretty sure it was a mile. No. I’m not exaggerating. (At least I don’t think so.) By the time I arrived at our gate, I was sweaty and gross, and everyone was standing in line. I saw Ryan almost instantly. KU blue is real easy to pick out of a crowd. Apparently the air conditioner on the plane was broken? No way I wanted to go through that again. But later I heard that the plane hit birds, so I have no idea what actually happened. That’s United for you. We stood… and then sat… near the gate for at least 20 minutes more before they announced that they were going to delay the flight. 9:55 turned into 11:00. 11:00 turned into 11:30. We boarded at 11:30. I thought that was going to be the end of it. But I was so wrong.
11:30 turned into 11:55. 11:55 turned into I don’t even know because I started watching We’re the Millers. (And I almost finished it before we even left the gate.) I know the door to the cabin closed around 12:35 because that was the time I sent my dad the last message before I turned off my wifi. By that time I had sent my professor five different emails telling him our “supposed” approximate arrival time. Why were we in the plane for an hour before shoving off from the gate? All of the baggage hadn’t been loaded onto the plane and they were severely understaffed AND there was another mechanical issue. Eating dinner at 1:45 a.m. ET was weird though. And that was another disaster in itself. I’d rather eat the new slop that the inmates in OITNB get in season three. (Whoops. Should have put a spoiler alert on that one.) I didn’t even know what the “vegetable” was (I found out it was quinoa. I hadn’t eaten it before) and the pasta tasted really bad and it was covered in overcooked, way out of date spinach. Like, I’d rather have uncooked Spaghettio’s. At least the dinner roll and the sorbet were edible. The rest of the flight was relatively smooth. There wasn’t a large amount of turbulence, but I still couldn’t get to sleep. We arrived in Scotland in one piece just before noon BST. Customs was a breeze, because Ryan and I got off the plane relatively quickly and both of our baggage arrived. Half of the girls who were coming to Stirling with us weren’t as lucky. I keep telling myself that it could be worse. My bag could have ended up on another flight somewhere. My flights could have been cancelled. I could have missed my second flight altogether. The air conditioning on my second flight could have not worked. But thing is for sure: I’m never flying through Newark again.