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Published:November 28th, 2005 21:24 EST
The Happiest Place on Earth

The Happiest Place on Earth

By Sarah Huffman

I hate flying.   I always have and I probably always will.  The thought of getting on a plane makes me nauseous. The first time I flew I threw up. Second time, some creepy guy sat next to me and proceeded to take his shoes and socks off.


But this last time solidified it. I endured the flights from hell to get to the happiest place on earth.


My best friend, Megan, called me in April to let me know she had been accepted for the Disney College Program. I was not only excited for her; I was excited because this gave me an excuse to go visit her. I had never been to Disney World.


Like any college student, I was short on cash so I decided to get my plane ticket from the internet. The cheapest ticket I found was $243 from Priceline.com. It was more expensive than I’d hoped, but I thought, “What the hell. How many times a year do I go on vacation?”


I was ecstatic because school and work had been stressing me out. I was on the brink of insanity and needed to get away. This trip was coming at the perfect time.


Wednesday, October 6th was the day my freedom was to begin. If only I would have known what was going to happen I would have just stayed at school.


I was running late, which was no surprise. Each time my mom pulled out of the driveway I realized another thing I had forgotten. First money, and then second, my credit card.


My flight was at 5:19. We left the house around 4:30. I got to the airport at 5. I was going to make it.  “You’re not going to make your flight,” the guy at the Northwest counter said to me.   "Are you serious?” I asked. I still had 20 minutes, plenty of time I thought.


“I can’t even get you a boarding pass. You need to be here a half an hour before your flight. You’re late and it’s your fault. You’ve missed your flight,” he said.


All I could do was start crying.  What proceeded was a blur, mainly because I couldn’t stop my tears. People were staring at me as my mom ran around trying to figure out how I could still go.


The guys at the Northwest counter told me that because I had bought my ticket from Priceline.com and I was late that I was out of a ticket. It was void and I was out my money.


That only made me cry harder.  Thankfully, American had a flight that was leaving to Orlando in an hour. The only problem was we would have to pay full price for the ticket. And same-day tickets aren’t cheap. $427 dollars later I had a new ticket.


In my eyes, my trip was already ruined. How was I to relax after all that had happened?  I didn’t feel any better after I stepped onto the plane. It was the smallest plane I had ever been on. It sat two people on each side of the aisle and only went about 16 rows back. I felt cramped. What else could go wrong?


The entire flight I cried. I kept thinking about how much money I had spent on this trip already and I wasn’t even in Florida yet.


We stopped in Dallas where I had an hour to wait until my next flight and an hour to dwell over what had just happened. I called my boyfriend and cried to him. He tried his best to console me and tell me that soon I would be in Florida where I could relax.


My flight from Dallas to Orlando was on a 747 and I had the row to myself, which made me feel more comfortable.  At 1 a.m. I finally arrived in Orlando. I almost wanted to kiss the ground when I got off the plane. I didn’t think I was ever going to get there.


Megan picked me up and I had to tell her the entire story because she had only gotten part of it through a teary message I had left on her cell phone earlier that day.


The next three days were just what I needed. I went to Disney World and to the beach where I couldn’t believe it was October and was 90 degrees. I finally relaxed and pushed every worry to the back of my mind.


Sunday morning my flight was leaving at 7:30 a.m. The woman at the American counter in Des Moines told me to be at the airport at least an hour and a half before my flight to make sure I didn’t miss it.


I was there two hours before my flight. I wasn’t going to chance it again.  The flight from Orlando to Dallas was pretty uneventful except for the crying baby.

I could tell everyone around me was getting annoyed because over half of the plane was trying to sleep. I was just happy because I was going to be home around noon and my boyfriend was picking me up at the airport.


My second flight to Des Moines left Dallas at 10:30. I got on the same kind of small plane I had been on the first time. This time someone sat next to me. I’m not claustrophobic, but it was tight quarters. I think it would make anyone uncomfortable.


I fell asleep and when I woke up we were sitting on the runway. I had no idea what time it was. Turns out it was 11:30 and we had been sitting on the plane for an hour.


Then the pilot came on.  “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got some bad news. I’ve got a sensor telling me there’s something wrong with the right engine so we have to turn around and go back.”


My stomach dropped and the tears started to well up. This wasn’t happening.  Everyone had to get off of the plane and proceed to another gate. We boarded the second plane at 12:10, 10 minutes before we were supposed to be home. I called my boyfriend, once again, crying.


You think he’d be sick of hearing my cry by now but he just told me that he’d be there when I got there and everything would be ok.
I tried to believe him, but somehow I didn’t know.  We got on the second plane and sat there, and sat, and sat.  The pilot came on again and once again the tears came.


“I don’t know what to say but to apologize, apologize, apologize,” he said. “There’s a problem with this plane, too.”


I knew then I was never going to get home.  Turns out there was something wrong with the fuel being in one tank when it was supposed to be somewhere else and they had someone working on it but we might have to switch planes again.


Out my window I was watching the fuel guy with his various pumps and tubes trying to fix the problem. I felt a rush of relief when he gave the pilot a thumbs-up.


Sitting next to me was a woman from Ames and her friend was sitting across the aisle. The woman next to me handed me some Kleenex and asked me if everything was ok. I then told them the story of my flights from hell. They were the nicest thing about being on that plane.


We finally took off about 20 minutes later. When we landed in Des Moines, we circled around the gates for a few minutes when we were informed that all gates were full so we would have to wait. So close, but so far away.


Finally, at 2:30, two hours later than I was supposed to be home, I ran into my boyfriend’s arms, soaking his t-shirt in tears. I was home.


Earlier that week, my mom had called Priceline.com to see if they could reimburse us for either ticket. Instead of reimbursing us, they gave us a free plane ticket to use sometime in the next year.
After all this, like I really want to fly ever again.