My daughter, Allie, and her boyfriend, Tyler, were getting ready for their first airplane trip together.
They were going to see his family in Ohio, and while Tyler probably wouldn’t admit it, I think he was fairly nervous about it. This was his first flight since he was 8, a flight he doesn’t really remember.
Understandable that you would have some nervous tingles. I’ve flown plenty of times, and I still get a smidge of anxiety before heading into the skies. After all, you are kinda doing something that, while quite safe and consistent, is something that kinda seems like a great big gamble.
My wife flies a good bit for work, and she’s a pro at packing and prepping and navigating the entire process. She took the lead in getting them all ready to go, giving them checklists and pointers as we went. I assisted by providing snappy one liners. For example:
MY WIFE: Do you have your ID? Boarding passes downloaded on your phone? Phone charger? Computer charger? Got movies downloaded to watch?
ME: Remember, if you see someone at the airport you know named Jack, do NOT shout, “Hi, Jack!”
MY WIFE: Sigh.
She sighs a lot.
The day prior to the flight, we were talking about what to expect. My daughter has flown several times, and she is also someone who never gets nervous about anything except school exams. I could sense Tyler was a little apprehensive about the flight. I assured him that flying was plenty safe, and that it would actually be a fun and cool experience. He jokingly said, “What happens if a bird hits the plane?”
I responded, “Simple. Your pilot lands it on the Hudson River.”
Fast forward to the day of the flight. We got to the airport in plenty of time, and they had their bags checked in no time. They headed to security, where my daughter for some reason had been selected for TSA pre-check, which means she got to take a fast pass through security. Tyler headed off to the regular check. We told them we would hang out and make sure they made it through security. Allie breezed through. Tyler, after about 20 minutes, was at the front of the line. It was at that point we realized Tyler was going to go through the big scanner, where you stand in this cylinder, raise your hands, and they look for whatever it is they look for. That was the moment I realized we had missed a great opportunity. My wife and I had this conversation:
ME: We really should have told him the scanner only stings for a little bit.
MY WIFE: Yep.
Once they were through, we waved them off to their gate, and my wife and I set off to the grocery store, because that’s the kind of gangster life we lead.
As we were finishing up shopping, my wife’s phone rang. She answered, listened for a moment and said, “WHAT!?!?”
The airline they were flying only has a couple of routes, so each flight has to wait on the airplane to return from said destination before they can all pile in and defy gravity. And the plane that was going to be shuttling them to Cincinnati? Yeah, it hit birds. Enough birds that they were not going to be flying out that day, and they would have to be rescheduled for the next day.
Their flight the next day made it out fine, and they have since returned home safely.
But reflecting on the whole journey, of all the things that could have gone wrong with a flight, I am rather amused that it was the one thing Tyler was worried about. Also, I really thought they were supposed to land on the Hudson River when that happened.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at www.mikeslife.us.