My recent trip to Las Vegas was thrilling, exhausting and outrageously expensive. The quintessential Vegas experience.
However, the flight home was a drama of epic proportions. Flying is not always the glamorous experience that it once was. My family and I dutifully grabbed the 12:40 p.m. shuttle at Caesars Palace in order to arrive at the airport two hours before departure. Everything that happened from this point on must be viewed through the lens of utter sleep deprivation.
The announcement that our departure was delayed 20 minutes was the first sign that things might not go as smoothly as we were hoping. The plane was filled to capacity on an airline that does not offer assigned seating, so I was giddy with excitement when I managed to snag an aisle seat.
Not long into the flight, the captain informed us that we would be flying an hour out of our way to avoid some heavy turbulence. While no one in their right mind would argue with the soundness of that decision, it was another distressing portent of things to come. The hour we had expected to save on the return flight evaporated into thin air.
With our seatbelts securely fastened we collectively settled into the usual distractions; reading, snacking, napping and snoring! Several rows behind me a man snored as loudly and comically as Will Ferrell in a Saturday Night Live skit. Without the nudge in the arm that might have been provided by a traveling companion, the snoring continued unchecked for a good 30 minutes.
Not to be outdone, a small child began howling a few decibels above “jackhammer” and continued unabated for the duration of the five hour flight. Anyone who has ever travelled by air with small children can empathize with the parents’ desperation in this agonizing scenario, but many passengers had run out of patience and were happy to make their feelings known.
For those who are thinking that the only ingredient missing from this comedy of errors is a drunk passenger, you will not be disappointed. Just after I walked to the back of the plane to stretch my legs, the intoxicated trophy wife who had been sitting across the aisle from me used her air sickness bag with less than pinpoint accuracy. I was asked to remain in the back while one of two doctors on board went over to determine the seriousness of the woman’s condition. Trophy wife’s husband, who had commandeered my seat, claimed that she had only had one margarita before boarding.
However, the woman standing next to me in the back of the plane exclaimed loudly, “She’s DRUNK!!! She was drunk before she boarded!!”
And then made sure to inform the flight attendant of this fact. I felt like Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.
Finally, things settled into relative calm since we knew our torment would come to an end within the half hour. We were asked to stay seated upon landing to allow the intoxicated woman to deplane first. EMS personnel would be waiting for her at the gate.
Decorum kept me from dropping to my knees and kissing the ground at baggage claim. The crisp Pittsburgh air greeted us as we made our way to the long-term parking lot. We had the time of our lives in Vegas, but there really is no place like home!