Tales from the Economy Class Cabin
As part of our honeymoon trip to Alaska, we had to book flights from Jacksonville to the Last Frontier. Since the Last Frontier was expensive, we opted to use what points we had, and long story short, we ended up using our American Airlines points. Alaska Airways is a partner of American Airlines, so there, our route was set, we were going to fly American wherever they took us and take Alaska to well, Alaska. One snag in our plan: there was only one saver seat on economy on the day we needed, but there was a business saver economy seat for the next day, which was the same price as an economy anytime award. So, what do we do?
I offered to take the economy seat because I had already flown business class a few times on business trips. This time, it was Peter’s turn (grits teeth), who was excited like a little kid. My reasoning for taking economy was I can pretty much sit anywhere, and just read and take photos outside. Oh, and I get an extra few hours in Anchorage to check out the weekend market and get our groceries and supply shopping done for our trip so Peter can just swoop in that evening and we’ll leave the next day for our drive around the state.
Before you continue on, if you’re not from the United States, American Airlines is a legacy carrier. However, in the USA, legacy carriers don’t exactly give out free food on domestic flights anymore. Yes, even though you are coming from the East Coast and flying to Alaska feels like flying to Russia given how far away it is, no food for you. Also note that US Airlines have a tendency to nickel and dime you. Like, if you don’t have a specific credit card or status, you’ll end up paying $25 for each piece of luggage, each way. That’s $100 roundtrip for me and Peter (and no, we didn’t pay this fee). More about that in a different post.
Tales from the Flight
So my flight is going okay, it left at 10:40 AM from Jacksonville, Florida en route to Charlotte, North Carolina. I was in the main cabin extra part, and got priority boarding. Yay! Also, my curbside bag arrived quickly on the jetbridge. Not so bad, huh? How do I get priority boarding? Simple, I had the American Airlines credit card (did I pay annual fee for it? Not really. I just cancel after the first year)!
The next segment was Charlotte to Raleigh. An odd routing, but that’s a part of travel, and also using points. I tried to change my flight when my schedule changed but it was only a few minutes difference and I will have to pay more miles so decided to stick with my original routing. I was on the aisle seat with an older lady who has never lived outside North Carolina. Interesting. She was in the same situation as I was, years before. Her husband was on a different flight, and was scheduled to arrive a few hours after her, and she was supposed to pick up her car rental and her husband will arrive an hour or so later. We didn’t chat long as it was only a 30 minute flight from Charlotte to Raleigh, but heaven knows why people book that flight – perhaps they don’t want to drive?
My connection was tight from Charlotte to Raleigh so I only had time to go to the restroom and run to the next gate. I made it, but had no time for lunch, which stinks, but I wasn’t that hungry anyway.
I had a longer layover in Raleigh. 3 hours in fact. It was enough time to grab lunch from 5 Guys, which I think is heavy enough to be my dinner too. That was a lot of burgers and fries in one meal. I texted Peter that I thought the airport was a bit dark. Turns out they only used natural light, which I applaud because that’s environmentally friendly! Went to browse at a used bookstore and waited for my next flight. The used bookstore was expensive, so no thanks. Also, the selection didn’t really interest me. Most of the titles I can easily get from our public library.
Oh, Raleigh has free airport WiFi in case you were wondering. Good if you had hours to spend and time to kill, so I typed the start of this blog on my phone.
Raleigh to Seattle – The Long Flight
The Raleigh to Seattle flight is interesting. I had never flown Alaska Airlines, so this is a first. I had a bad first impression though, because I got a middle seat. ugh. I hate middle seats! (Don’t we all?) At least Spirit now makes it a wee bit more interesting because they give out free roundtrip fares if you were stuck on their ‘lucky’ middle seat.
Peter normally takes the middle seat when I fly with him but it’s fine because we can chat together. I can also rest my head on his shoulder while I take a nap. He uses my head as his pillow in return. Cute, huh? Anyway, this middle seat, well, it was awful.
I have no qualms with the guy sitting on my right, on the window, as he is peacefully reading a book. He does like opening the blinds up a lot as he peers outside.
I do have a qualm with the guy on my left, or the aisle. First off, he smells. Like, some weird body odor smell that I hated and seems to linger. Did this guy bother showering? Does he ever use deodorant? Maybe he just doesn’t do laundry and picked up whatever clothes he left on the floor in a rush to get to the airport.
The signs were saying he was flying from Raleigh as he left his ticket on the basket type thing in front of the seat. It had a scribble on it, which was what TSA normally does when you first clear the screening of the airport. Ugh. He stinks.
When the plane was taxiing, he drank a small bottle of a sleeping concoction I had no idea what for. Clearly this guy just wanted to sleep the whole 5+ hours the plane is on the air.
Meanwhile I am here blogging on my phone, and silently reading my Lonely Planet magazine after I had finished reading my “Alaska In Flight” magazine. Peter has the 2DS with him so I have to entertain myself by other means!
The smell got so bad, I was forced to take out my hand sanitizer from my bag, put a dobble in my hands and smell my hands throughout the flight. You see, I am very sensitive to smell, and I can’t stand weird or funky smells. Hence my refusal to eat Indian food – can’t stand the smell of the spices most of the time.
Anyway, if that wasn’t enough, a baby 2 rows down was screaming as if there was no tomorrow. It was that type of ear piercing scream that you just want to yell “Calm that thing down!” I have no idea why the mother was not shutting up the kid. Good thing he (or she?) stopped an hour and a half after. Clearly I am not a baby person. I’m now scared for my future kid.
But wait, this flight gets better. The guy on the row behind me kept coughing. A bad hacking cough that felt like he was dying right then and there. And I’m like, please don’t be contagious because I don’t want to get ill. We are all in this flying bus that just recycles air, so whatever viruses or bacteria comes out just cycles. I’m just on the start of my two week exploration trip and I just do not want to get sick.
I looked behind and saw that he had an oxygen machine. Maybe he had an illness. He did at one point have trouble breathing where he was gasping.
I swear to God I thought he was going to die on the plane. Please don’t let us be diverted, was my thought, until he stopped after his wife gave him something.
And so, I have 2 more hours on this flight as I type this. What good can I say? The Alaska magazine is good, although it only highlights the West Coast. No biggie, I guess that’s their focus market. They’re not called Alaska for nothing, right?
Oooh wait, there’s a plug on the seat! I liked that a lot. Now I can blog most of the time and not worry about losing battery life.
And mmm free water. I got two glasses of free water now. Now I might need to go to the toilet again when we land. No chance I might get through stinky dude in the aisle as he’s knocked out.
Ah seatmate on the right opened the window. Can now look out. See snow covered mountains from the window. Excellent. Took a photo and ended up with this (ok, I lied, this is actually Peter’s photo. I can’t find mine):
I have a tight connection in Seattle. I made it. With time to spare. And eat… at a Burger King that cost a lot of money. Also got a Starbucks… when in Seattle, get a Starbucks, right? Even if it’s just at the airport. We’ll have to explore Seattle at another time.
In Anchorage, got a window seat, which was great. The lady sitting beside me had an interesting story. She was diagnosed with a kidney disease when she went in for an annual check-up. However, she had no symptoms, nothing. Her kidneys were functioning at less than 10% when they found out and she’s still under treatment. One of her bucket lists was to do all 50 States and she was going to Alaska to tick off one of the last three on her list.
It was quite inspiring to beat all the odds and do what you want, like this woman, and goes to show how short life is and we should enjoy the little time we have left (while saving for our futures too).
It was sunset when we were getting ready to land. Sunset… at 10:30pm. There was still a bit of light outside the window which made for some beautiful photos, and of course I took some (see below). I saw what could be Kincaid park from the window and this weird land mass that met the water. Turns out that was from a landslide that happened during the Alaskan earthquake from the 1960s.
I’m not complaining about economy class – we fly economy all the time, but this was one of those trips that was quite memorable… just goes to show you’ll never know the types of people you’ll sit next to. I got so used to flying with Peter that I wasn’t so observant anymore. People are so interesting, and everyone has a story to tell. Thanks for reading this post!