At the end of my post a few weeks ago about a huffy and puffy fellow passenger we encountered on an outbound flight to Boston (click here if you need a refresher) I said I had a story to share of the return flight.
Here it goes.
We woke up that February Sunday morning around 8am to snow outside of our Boston hotel room window. I knew instantly that we would have some travel woes that day. I hadn’t received any email or text updates from Jetblue for our 1ishpm flight yet, but decided to be proactive and see what I could find out online. I plugged in our flight number, only to have it display that the flight had been CANCELLED. Straight up just cancelled. Within the same minute, an email came through from Jetblue explaining that the flight was cancelled and we were booked on the 8am the following Monday morning, sorry for the inconvenience, thanks! Um, ok, just supposed to stay another night? No explanation, no other options, just see ya tomorrow morning? We have a son to get home to and my husband had a full week of work ahead of him. Thankfully my mother-in-law had our son, so if we were stuck in a situation where we had to stay the night again, we could make it work if need be.
I went into research mode and switched over to the Southwest Airlines site. I was able to secure two seats for us on a flight leaving around 2:30pm, it would just have a layover through BWI and put us home a little later. The funny thing is the Southwest flight we were now booked on was one of our original considerations when we were initially booking our trip so we could use Southwest points and save cash, but the Jetblue nonstop flight had better flight times and was more appealing so we went that route.
In the meantime, my husband called Jetblue to seek out any further cancellation details and they were actually really cool and refunded each of our return flights in full to us. That rarely happens with airlines these days. And, since we were now flying home on that Southwest one, we used our points and saved $$ there too. AND, in the middle of the night before, I guess my husband had called the front desk to tell them that the bachelor party in the room next to ours was partying a little too loud and a tad too late, and when we woke up we had a card slipped under our door from the manager on duty stating he apologized for the inconvenience and we would be granted 4,000 free Starwoods points. Score, score and SCORE. Things weren’t so bad.
With this slightly rearranged travel schedule, I accepted the fact that my reunion with my son that I was missing terribly would just have to be pushed back a few hours more. We delighted in the fact that we could hit up one more Boston restaurant and went for brunch to help stave off our hunger and pangs of missing our little guy. After that, we packed it up and headed to the airport.
The flight from Boston to BWI was routine and pretty uneventful. Since the plane we were on would be continuing on to our final destination of home, the flight attendants asked us to stay in our seats when we landed in BWI and we could move about and change seats to more desirable ones (if we wanted) once everyone getting off at BWI had deplaned.
We decided to move forward a few rows and settled into our new seats. I took a window seat and my husband took an aisle. Our final leg was to be a fairly full flight, and those passengers started filing in, stowing their carry-ons and personal items appropriately and selecting seats.
When the boarding process was coming to an end and the doors to the plane were about to be shut, a flight attendant came on and asked if there were any passengers sitting in a row with an empty middle seat that would be willing to move to accommodate a father and young son that needed to sit together. Ding ding ding! That’s us!
Everyone just faced forward and acted like they didn’t hear a thing.
The father and his son, who appeared be around four or five years old, just lingered helplessly in the aisle. The dad was stressed and kept looking around the plane for anyone who would help him out, the little boy clinging to his arm.
I thought to myself if that had been my son and I in the aisle, I would hope someone would help me out.
I looked around to see if anyone else had risen to the task and that was a negative. I leaned over to my husband and told him I was going to get up, find another seat and I would see him when we got off the plane. He would be working away on his laptop for the duration of the flight anyways and I would either be reading or doing that as well, so why not?
I stood up and told the father to please take my seat and settle himself and his son in my row. He breathed a sigh of relief, and he mouthed, “thank you.” I looked him in the eye and said, “you are absolutely welcome.” I gathered my carryon and replaced the father’s position in the aisle.
Walking forward I saw an open middle seat to my right, but I didn’t want to make that my final decision. Taking a few additional steps up, I saw another open middle seat on the left between a middle-aged man and twenty-something girl. Done. I’ll take it.
As I motioned that I would be taking the middle seat, the twenty-something appeared bothered by me having to disturb her so I could sit. Whatever. I just wanted to get home. I shuffled over her, because she clearly wasn’t going to get out to let me in, and I sat in the middle seat.
Then, it was during the take off, with over two hours of flying time to go, that it started.
The twenty-something started scratching at something in her scalp. I thought maybe she has itchy hair extensions? I didn’t want to make it obvious that I noticed the obsessive scratching, so I kept to myself for a little bit. Everyone has an itch every now and then, what’s the big deal?
Then she really started going at it.
I was really getting curious, and uncomfortable now. Peering my eyes over, I noticed that she had pointy nails like this:
My first thought was is that what the girls are into these days? Hmph. Having never gotten acrylic on my nails myself, I felt really behind on the trends. Then I realized these pointy these may have been intentional to really get to the source of all her incessant scratching.
Then the obsession moved on to her ear. Her LEFT ear. The one on MY side.
Don’t look! She’s got a serious itch. How annoying for her.
Oh crap, I just looked.
And she noticed.
Then it got perpetually worse. She would dig in her ears, with the above nails, and then look and assess what she dug up! We weren’t even at cruising altitude and she balled up whatever earwax she had accumulated between two fingers and placed the damn earwax ball on display ON HER TRAY TABLE. Not on a tissue or a napkin, not even at least flicked in the aisle-straight up right on the tray table. Of course, on the left side.
I flared my nostrils.
My first thought was to grab a tissue out of my bag and hand it to her, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do so! I still don’t know why.
How long did this occur, you ask? The entire 2hr and 25 minute flight.
Digging. Assessing. Displaying. REPEAT!
I could have used the call button to get a flight attendant to change seats, that would defeat the purpose of me trying to do a good deed for the father and son, right? I could have gone to the bathroom and cornered one and whispered my ordeal to one of them. But I didn’t. I felt I lost my right to change seats now. That is what swirled in my head. I felt I was overreacting. But I was totally grossed out. I just pulled out my earphones, turned on some Coldplay and fired up my laptop to type away.
I was pretty confident at this point that when plane changeovers occurred the flight attendants, or any cleaning crew for that matter, did not pull down each tray table and properly canvas and disinfect everything. Nasty!
I would periodically look back to my husband to see what he was up to, but he had his head down clicking away.
I just dealt with it. Forcing myself to face forward, distracted by my music and writing, making a deal with myself that I wouldn’t look down and to the right.
Believe it or not, I actually started feeling bad for her. She seemed to have some major compulsive scratching situation going on. I think I saw TV previews once for people who ate detergent and toilet paper and pulled their eyelashes out. She had to be one of these people. And I felt bad. And her nail people? I REALLY feel bad for them…eek!!!
As we landed, it was clear the twenty-something was also apparently related to the lady on the flight on the way up to Boston. She wedged her way into the aisle, cutting off the people that were owed their right ahead of her.
When I finally deplaned, I looked back at the father and he mouthed something that indicated he was sincerely grateful.
That was all I needed.
Was this one of the grossest things I’ve witnessed? Absolutely.
But, it made my reunion with my son that much more delicious.
And made my hot, steamy shower that night that much more refreshing.
Most importantly, it didn’t stop me from doing good deeds.
Just last week my husband and I went to Austin, TX. When I checked in, I received priority boarding, group 1. My husband got group 2.
I felt like that was my reward.