Archived Story

Unpredictability proves norm when flying

Published 11:12am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A little over a week ago it felt weird to step on my first flight at the age of 26.

Even as I sat in the airport waiting to board my flight, I noticed what seemed like an endless number of minors flying alone.

I had flown overseas as a baby, but this time was obviously much, much different because I had to do everything myself, from checking a bag to making sure I was at my flight gate on time.

Everyone has heard their fair share of flying horror stories, including but not limited to turbulence during flights, long layovers and outrageous prices within airports.

So I was naturally nervous before setting off on my journey to Kansas City, Mo.

I started off set to fly out of the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi.

Showing up at the airport more than an hour early, I figured some of the biggest headaches that could happen had been avoided.

But as soon as I checked in, I got my first taste of just how unpredictable flying can be.

While my original flight was scheduled to take me to a connection in Dallas-Fort Worth, I was told the plane was scheduled for maintenance and I would have to choose between two options: either hop on a flight that was boarding as I was making my decision or wait four hours until the next flight out. Either way, I was instead going to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the nation.

I took my chances and chose the flight that was already in the process of boarding. I checked my bag, went through security and hurried aboard the flight.

After checking in, the next hurdle was the biggest – the flight itself.

Takeoff and landing are both exhilarating and terrifying. If there’s a word to properly describe it, I don’t know what that word is.

The feeling you get in your stomach when the plane is ascending and descending is somewhat unnerving, but it was a short flight that surprised me in many ways.

I was clenching my seat at the beginning and end, but overall it was an enjoyable experience.

When I arrived in Atlanta, I got to experience another of the downsides of flying: the monotony.

My next flight was not for another four hours, all of which was spent walking up and down the terminal looking for something to do.

After the long wait, I sat through a flight that had a fair bit of turbulence, which made it a nerve-wracking trip.

When it was finally time to return from my week-long visit to Kansas City, I had two more flights to add to my flight experience.

Flight No. 3 took me to Dallas-Fort Worth International, where as soon as I stepped off the plane I had to find a train to get me to my gate in the large airport.

In Dallas, I experienced my first flight delay, which pushed back my arrival in Gulfport by an hour because of rough weather.

An hour wasn’t bad, but it was the fact that I would take that final flight in a tiny, American Eagle CRJ-700 regional jet that made that flight the most unsettling experience of the four.

Turbulence was experienced throughout, and the cramped space inside the plane was basically just about every horror story and joke about flying you have ever heard.

But throughout all that, I made it, and in the process I found out flying wasn’t as bad as I initially thought.

It was an interesting, unpredictable first-time flight experience.

But after all the stories I have heard from family and friends about just how unpredictable flying can be, maybe an uneven experience was exactly what I needed in my first flight to prepare me for the unforeseen circumstances of future flights.

Because with flying, it seems like unpredictability is the norm.

Hudson is a staff writer for The Outlook.