I am not a great flyer. Just ask my other half who has to put up with me on any flight we take.
This wasn’t always the case though. I used to travel by plane quite often and had no problems.
My mother lives in another state and when she first moved up there I flew at least once a year to visit.
I have friends on the other side of Australia and have flown quite a few times there and back.
My stepfather took me to New Zealand when I was 16.
These flights were quite a few years back now, but ALL with no problems. In fact I quite enjoyed flying.
Then IT happened.
Nearly four and a half years ago, I took a voluntary redundancy from my job which included a nice some of money.
So it was decided the boyfriend and I would have a nice holiday, somewhere we hadn’t been before (this really could have been anywhere because up until that point the 2 of us had only ever flown the one and half hours to visit my mum in QLD – well there was also a trip to Melbourne, but we made the mistake of driving there and back).
We settled for Brampton Island in the Whitsundays, off the coast of North QLD.
An hour and a bit to Brisbane, then an hour and a half to Mackay.
Again all fine.
The flight from Mackay to Brampton was great too, although daunting at first. We walked out of Mackay tin shed (sorry airport) to the 6 seater prop plane! OMG!
This flight was surprisingly pretty awesome. I was sat right next to the pilot, again OMG! But it was great. The day was beautiful, no clouds and I could see everything from my vantage point. Flying over the resort before landing made for great photos.
The problem was the flight home.
4 days at Brampton was just beautiful. The weather was almost perfect until………..
We awoke on our last day not he island and the weather had turned, and I mean turned. The sky was dark and grey with heavy clouds, the rain was coming down hard and the wind was, well, WINDY.
As our fight was not until about 2pm we had nothing to do but sit in the bar of the resort and wait and watch as the weather grew worse and worse.
This is where it began. All I could think of was having to get on that 6 seater plane with the lawn mower engine and flying in this weather and the waiting made it worse. Thinking how the hell can a small model aircraft fly in this weather.
It was finally time to leave and we made our way to the “airstrip” at the back of the island. The uneven, not flat, airstrip plonked between 2 of mountains. THANKFULLY, the plane we were to return on was a little larger than the 6 seater thing we had arrived on. It was 12 seats. Hoo-fucking-ray.
Needless to say the return trip to Mackay was awful. We could not see 5 metres in front of us and there was not one time during the entire flight that was smooth. Swaying, dipping, bumping – you name it. I FREAKED OUT.
The trip from Mackay to Brisbane was no better, even considering the plane was a hundred times the size of the one I almost died on (yes, I like to tell myself that).
There you have it, one little incident ruined everything for me for a while.
Then the time came — Thailand. 9 hours of flying. FARK!!!!!
I’ve done it 4 times now and have survived. Thank god for drugs.
I think though, as I have gotten older and made a few long haul jaunts, it’s not simply a fear of flying that irks me, it is the entire experience. And here’s why:
This trip could not come soon enough. It had been a busy (but productive and rewarding) few months at work. It was a year since my last holiday and I wanted to get back to Thailand badly. I love it.
At one month long, it is also the longest holiday I have ever had and I could not wait.
Getting here though, sheesh.
I was all set with my drugs, Valium 5 – thanks Doc. Best one’s I’ve ever had.
Unfortunately, leaving on a Monday morning it wasn’t like us to ask anyone to drive us to the airport and anyone living in Sydney can attest that catching a cab costs almost as much as the flight itself. So we opted for the train. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or is friends on Facebook will tell you how much I love “Sydney Trains” (I’m sure they changed the name from City Rail for the sole purpose of preventing people calling it Shitty Fail).
However, this part of the journey was the easiest. The trains ran on time and were not crowded-ish.
Checked-in at the airport, again smooth sailing. Had a couple of wines for the nerves, downed a Valium before boarding then got on and found our seats. Luke, the lucky bastard had the aisle seat, me caught in the middle of a him and “some guy”.
Even though we were with Emirates, who we love to fly with, the leg room was almost non-existent and the seat felt very uncomfortable for some reason.
But I had experienced worse before (try flying to Bangkok via Singapore on Scoot!! – our legs were almost around our ears they pack that many rows in).
The worst part, which I think every flyer fears on any flight, was 2 rows in front, not 5 minutes after boarding, a baby started crying.
Fuck, fuck, FUCK!!! Cumon Valium, do your thing.
And it did. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for me to drift off to sleep – for 2 hours. I was hoping it would knock me out for at least half of the trip, but alas, no.
I woke up just as we were flying over Dubbo, the baby still crying and my legs beginning to cramp.
Got up and went to the loo, mainly to stretch my legs then took another magic pill. Surprisingly, Luke, who always seems to enjoy the flights, being able to watch new release movies and what not asked if he could have a Valium. That crying baby had ruined it for him too.
Fell asleep not long after only to wake up somewhere between Mt Isa and Darwin. WE HAD NOT EVEN LEFT AUSTRALIA YET!! AND THE BABY WAS STILL CRYING.
Finally, the drugs began to take effect and I fell asleep for a few hours, only to wake every now and then to pee and stretch my legs (I can’t believe how long a baby can cry for).
Then we landed in Bangkok. Yay.
Sadly, this is not the end of our little adventure.
This trip we opted not to spend any time in Bangkok but instead go to Krabi as we had not visited that side of the Gulf before.This meant another plane ride from Bangkok to Krabi. Seems straight forward right…..WRONG.
Our Emirates flight arrived at Bangkok at around !2.30 at night into the beautiful new international airport. Our Air Asia flight departed from the old airport (about an hour cab ride away) at 6.45am.
Do we hang around the new airport a few hours or go straight to the other airport???? We decided to go straight to the old airport and wait for our flight. BAD MOVE.
If you ever have to do this, and have plenty of time on your hands, I suggest staying at the new airport where everything is open. You can eat, get a massage and pass the time away.
At 1.30 in the morning at the old airport, all you can do is get a coffee, smoke a bit (a lot) and lay down on the cold tiled floor until check-in opens.
As you can imagine by this time we are both tired and cranky.
Finally, we check-in and get bussed out to the plane. I know!! No gates, just a waiting room and some sliding doors out to a bus that drives for so long I thought we were being driven to Krabi.
For some reason that is totally lost on me, when we checked-in, the guy put Luke and I in the same seat letter but different rows. So even though the seat next to him was empty, my allotted seat was directly behind him. Weird.
This was good for Luke, as he didn’t have to put up with me. Bad for me as the flight was very bumpy and too short for a Valium – Almost freaked out!!!
Finally we arrive at our resort, 6 hours too soon as check-in is not until 2pm (who the fuck made that rule anyway). We get turned away so decide to walk into town and explore. We had decided to stay somewhere a little out of town so the walk wasn’t a short one, and being so tired, and the weather quite warm, it was not pleasant.
We did, however, do one of my favourite things in Thailand, and that was to get a foot massage.
The world was right again.
Now, as I sit by the pool, at our secluded mountain side resort, the trip here all seems a blur but totally worth it.
I guess my point is, it’s not simply an acute fear of flying that is bad, it’s the whole experience of waiting in line, airplane food, crying babies, leg room enough for fly and time differences that contribute to my strong dislike of flying.
This, I know, is all part and parcel of getting to go to exotic places and the price you pay for relaxation.
We are now talking of heading to Europe in a few years and both of us are dreading it. Me, because, fuck it’s a long way, and Luke because, fuck he has to put up with me!!!
A month more of relaxation and fun before thinking of getting on another long haul flight. I CAN DO IT…
Had any nightmare flying experiences? Please share so I know I’m not the only one.