Getting Home-36 Hours of Flights & Layovers

Well the title pretty much says it all doesn’t it???  36 hours and 22 minutes of flights and layovers from start to finish according to my flight itinerary.  A long ass time to get home to say the least.  I will say to start off, that it is recommended that on your return home from Russia that you get home in the shortest amount of time possible, basically try to avoid insanely long layovers….  Mainly because you are weaker from treatment, more tired, and then it’s also good to avoid being around large groups of people for long periods of time. Many people also opt to fly home on business class just because it’s more comfortable and you are around fewer people, but I’m poor so I flew coach the whole way home.  I will say that the pics that are featured in this blog post, they are crappy quality, I snapped them with my cell phone and it’s having issues and the camera isn’t working so well, so they are crappy quality, such is life.

Why did I have 36 hours and 22 minutes of flights and layovers?  Well back to the being poor and flying coach aspect of the whole thing.  Well that and the fact that I live in Idaho and have to fly into Boise which is not an international airport, does not offer a ton of flight options, and it also is the start of summer right before Memorial Day weekend and flight options to get back into Boise were very very very limited, even though I booked my tickets in February.  So my dilemma with the flights was that I mainly had 2 options, I could have a 57 minute layover in Paris, which just is not possible at all, or a 13 hour overnight layover in Paris.  Neither were ideal options, but I had to go with the 13 hour overnight layover, which I later really regretted, but we will cover that later on in this post.  Those were my options when flying Delta.  My only other option with flying out of Boise for international flights was using United and the cheapest tickets with them were way more expensive, like $500-800 more expensive for just as horrible of flight plans.  There were more desirable flight plans that involved just 2-4 hour layovers at each stop, but then those tickets were a minimum of $1000-2000 more and that just was not an option for me at all.  I do realize that many people would splurge and come up with the money and perhaps that is the smart thing to do, but when you are borrowing money to have the procedure done to begin with and have no extra money to spare, you go the cheapest route possible, which meant longer layovers and flying coach.  No fancy business class for me.  But actually on my long flight, coach worked out quite well for me, so can’t complain, will elaborate more on that later in the post as well.

So enough rambling on about how I ended up with 36 hours and 22 minutes of flights and layovers, now onto my actual journey home.  So my last blog post on leaving the hospital touched a bit on the start of my journey home.  The initial plan was to leave the hospital around 2:00pm to get us to the airport at 4:00pm at the latest, enough time to get checked in, go through passport control, customs, etc.  The drive from the hospital to the airport is about one hour when traffic is normal, it can take longer when traffic is bad, there are accidents, road construction, etc.  I do say us here, because I was traveling to the airport with my Norwegian stemmie sister and her hubby.  Our flights left the same airport at almost the same time, except lucky them only had about a 4 hour flight and they would be home in Norway, me on the other hand ended up in Paris 4 hours later with a long ways left to go. It was a frantic time leaving the hospital, Anastasia came and found us shortly before 1:00pm and said the driver would be here in 10 minutes because traffic was really bad.  So it was time to get the anti-blood clotting shot in the belly, finish tossing the last few items in my bags, snapping some pics with Dr. Fedorenko and Anastasia, saying thank-yous and goodbyes to them, saying goodbye to some of my fellow patients, carting luggage over to the elevators, and then we were headed downstairs and starting our journey home.

The drive to the airport ended up taking 2 1/2 hours due to really bad traffic, construction, and an accident on the main circle around town, it was a long time in the car, a very long time in the car.  But at the same time it wasn’t too bad.  I was sitting in the backseat with the Norwegian gal’s hubby and he speaks very good English and we were having all sorts of good conversations on the ride to the airport. We actually ended up switching drivers partway to the airport because the first driver had to get to a different hospital because something happened with his dad, but the hospital had one of their people meet up with us and we swapped out drivers, we stayed in the vehicle, they just swapped out drivers.  Both drivers spoke fairly good English so they were both pointing out all sorts of things on the drive to the airport as well, so we were learning a bit more Russian history on the way, which was interesting, well at least to me given I am a history buff.  Once we got to the airport the driver grabbed us luggage carts and got our stuff all loaded on the carts.  I figured we were good to go at this point in time, so I said my goodbyes to my Norwegian friends and headed in the airport.   I flew out of Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), which apparently is an oddity for those coming from the USA, the first driver asked me several times if I was sure I was going to the right airport when he heard that I was from the USA to ensure that I was not confused and needing to go to DME, one of the other airports in town.  I guess most people from Australia and the USA tend to fly into DME, but I flew into Russia on KLM and flew out on Air France, both which go through SVO, so I guess I’m a freak on choosing my airlines.

In the airport, as soon as you get through the door, you have to pass through a metal detector and send all your bags through the machine so they can admire all your stuff in your bags.  And then of course they check your passport.  I figured carrying a USA passport they’d ask me to open my suitcase, I was correct.  The lady barked at me in Russian and seemed annoyed that I had no idea what she was saying, so then she told me in English to open the suitcase.  I opened it, and like always I ensure I have all my dirty laundry on top to make it seem less appealing to dig through, she took a glance and told me to close it up and motioned me on my way.  Dirty laundry trick usually works, just saying….  Then the Norwegians came in with the driver and they told me that the driver was going to help us at the check-in counter and to come with them.  So first the driver helped them get all situated, they were flying Aeroflot.  Then he came over and helped me out at the Air France counter.  In flying out of the US it was a battle to check my bag all the way to Russia because I had an almost 11 hour layover in Amsterdam and apparently 10 hours is the standard cut-off time for allowing bags to sit at an airport without you having to retrieve them at baggage claim and recheck them, they did it for me, but it was a battle.  Apparently though in Russia they don’t care at all about times and the gal at the counter checked my bag all the way through to Boise without me even asking.  I did however verify that I wouldn’t have to retrieve it in Paris with my 13 hour layover and the gal said no, get in Boise.  I went with it, I thought for sure I’d have to retrieve my stupid suitcase in Paris so it was a relief to not have to deal with that.  She also printed me out every boarding pass needed all the way to Boise….  At that time the driver took off and was on his way.  I again said my goodbyes to my Norwegian friends as our gates were in different places and we were all on our way.  A picture of SVO airport.

IMG_5719

Moscow, Russia-SVO Airport

At this point in time I really had no idea what to expect at the airport in dealing with customs, immigration, passport control, etc.  And really nobody speaks any English at all so it really can be an adventure trying to figure all this out.  Luckily the signs do have English on them so I attempted to figure out where I was going.  I was just wearing my standard hospital mask at this time, so I didn’t look too horrifying yet, but apparently I looked confused while staring at signs so a police officer pointed me one way so off I went that way and apparently I ended up in the line where I wasn’t claiming anything.  I’m guessing I should have been in a different line because I did buy stuff in Russia but I didn’t spend that much money so not really sure if I needed to claim stuff or not, but if all else failed I figured I’d just play the confused stupid card when the time came and then they could take me where I needed to go.  But that line got me to passport control and I just waited my turn, handed over my passport and little white migration card I got when I entered Russia along with my boarding pass and stood there.  I had to pull down my mask so the man could verify my identity, he took the white card, checked my visa to ensure it was still valid, I have a 3 year multi-entry tourist visa so was good there, stamped my passport, stamped my boarding pass, scanned some stuff, handed me back my passport and boarding pass, opened the little gate, and I was on my way.  Then from there you go straight through the actual airport security, which is fairly similar to the USA, minus the fact they don’t require you to remove your shoes or belt and they don’t require you to remove electronics or liquids from your bags.  You just toss all your bags up on the belt, they run them through the machines, you go through a metal detector, then through the body scanner, then they motion you to retrieve your stuff, and you are on your way to the gate.  All in all a much more pleasant experience then dealing with going through the security in the US.

So when all was said and done I had about 2 hours left to wait until my plane left, so after a potty break I decided to figure out my fancy mask I got for my trip home.  It really is a hideous ridiculous looking thing.  I mean why lie, it’s gigantic and strange looking, but it filters out most germs and it does have a vent on it so it’s breathable, so it is not as hot as wearing a standard mask.  Now Dr. F said before I left that it’s most important to wear masks in the airports themselves and during plane boarding, but during the flights you can remove the mask for the flight as long as you aren’t around sick people.  I opted to wear my mask the entire time, the only time it came off was when I was eating or drinking, I didn’t want to take any chances, hence the reason I had my fancy mask to begin with.  You get a lot of strange looks when wearing masks in general, you get more strange looks when wearing a giant mask.  I decided to experiment as I started off by wearing a hat, I got far more strange looks while wearing the mask and a hat, so I opted to go hatless and rock the bald look for the duration of my trip.  Then people don’t really look at you like you’re a contagious freak that needs to be stared at, then you get more of the sympathy stares and then people quickly look away.  So I rocked the bald look my entire trip home, except my Paris layover, hat came back on for that, and then for my Boise flight but that was just to piss off BSU fans, if you are from Idaho you’d understand the reasoning there as my hat was a UI Vandal hat.

So then finally it came time to leave Russian soil and begin my journey home.  Really it was quite emotional to actually get on the plane, especially when it lifted off the ground. I realized that I had spent over a month of my life in this country, I was given a second chance at life here, I met so many great people here, and now I’m headed home to my family and have no idea if I will ever come back to this great country that has done so much for me. Given where SVO is located at and that I was headed to Paris, my plane flew over Moscow on the way out and even though I had an aisle seat for that flight, wasn’t given an option on that flight for seat choices, I did stare out the window and watch the city disappear out of sight, a bittersweet feeling really.

So my first flight was Moscow to Paris and I flew on Air France, see above pictures from boarding and of my plane.  When I booked my airline tickets there was still the whole thing going on where US airlines weren’t allowed to fly into Russia or they were choosing not to, or some giant mess, so basically the final leg of flight for US people flying into Russia had to be on a European, Russian, or some other countries’ airlines.  I flew into Russia on KLM, flew out on Air France, both are partners with Delta which was the airline that my tickets were booked through.  My impression of Air France airlines is not a good one.  The plane I flew on was very dated and had zero in-flight entertainment at all, not even free wi-fi, which I just assumed was standard on all airlines now, but apparently not.  They said at boarding that this would be a French/English speaking flight but none of the flight attendants spoke any English at all or if they did they chose not to, and since my flight was about 50% Russian, there was quite the language gap since it appeared most of the Russians on board did not speak French and were just connecting through Paris.  The pre-flight safety stuff and all announcements for the flight were in French and not a single word of English was spoken the entire flight, and I don’t speak a word of French, so it was a long 4 hour flight.  The flight attendants were very snobby and rude to everyone.  I did have an aisle seat on this flight, I guess I lucked out and didn’t get a middle seat as I was not allowed to pick my seat for this flight, even at the counter prior to boarding.  Apparently if you book a ticket with another airlines and not directly through Air France they do not allow you to pick your seat at any time, at least that is what I was told, so I got an aisle seat.  The plane was an Airbus A319 so the seating was a 3-3 configuration.  The plane was about 90% full but I did luck out and in my row of 3 the middle seat was empty, so I did have a gap between me and the person with the window seat.  My seat companion appeared to be a college age French guy who kept glaring at me the entire flight, not sure what that was about, perhaps it was because I didn’t touch my meal, hard to say, that fact alone seemed to offend everyone around me as well as the flight attendants..  So onto the meal since I like to discuss food.  So my flight included dinner, but no other snacks at all. Apparently it is common for Air France to serve cold meals, I guess it’s a French thing.  I will admit this cold dinner did look quite amazing and it must have tasted alright since everyone around me devoured the entire thing.  It was some chunks of cold chicken served next to a nice looking salad, chunk of bread, soft brie cheese, and some peanut butter/chocolate dessert bar.  There was a packet of crackers included in the meal, I did get to eat that, but the rest of the meal ended up in the trash.  At the same time they also handed out burning hot pastries that had some meat/cheese mixture in them.  I did opt to eat that given I knew it was at a safe temp.  I do realize some people would opt not to eat any airplane food, I felt it was safe, so I ate it, personal preference. At that time as well was the only time on the entire flight when they offered up beverages and the only thing they had that I could actually drink that was in its own container was a very tiny can of Coca-Cola.  Honestly I’ve never seen such tiny cans before, it was like 3-4 ounces.  It was difficult with the language barrier to try to convince the flight attendant that I wanted the unopened can and not in a glass, but she finally glared at me and handed me a can.  And they had zero regular water on this flight, not even where you could get it in a glass, they had mineral water, but that was it, a bit odd, but again must be a French thing.  So on the flight I had a little pastry, pack of crackers, and a mini can of coke.  Thank god the flight went rather fast, but we ended up landing about 20 minutes late in Paris, then spent another 30 minutes waiting for the gate to open up before we were able to get off the plane.  Needless to say I was not at all impressed with Air France and I do think in the future if I ever travel to Europe I will opt to pay more to fly on any other airlines.

So now onto the fun part of my journey home, my over 13 hour layover in Paris at CDG airport.  Now prior to my flight I did research on this airport and overnight layovers so I would know what to expect, the only problem is that with most of my research that I did I expected to be staying more in the outer section of the airport by the baggage claim because for over 10-12 hour layovers typically you are required to retrieve your bag, especially in Paris where they have strict rules on that, so I expected I’d be chilling in that section of the airport over night with all my luggage.  But because the gal in Moscow didn’t care about the rules in Paris she checked my bag straight through to Boise, I got to stay in the overnight section in the actual airport, which I’m not really sure which would have been a better option at this point in time.  I’m thinking the baggage claim area may of had vending machines…..but too late now.  So CDG airport in Paris is a crazy mess of security right now because of the whole plane crash a few weeks prior to my flight that they think may have been terrorist related and since the plane originated out of Paris, security is ridiculous.  Just to get from my plane to the next check-in/security area/overnight area, I went through 4 security checks, at each one they will seize anything over 3 ounces, so no chance of getting water through there, this comes into play later on, trust me, it’s important….  So finally I ended up at the check-in area for the terminal that my next flight was supposed to be at and it closed at 11:00pm for the night, but unless your flight left before 5:00am, you were not allowed to pass into the terminal until 5:00am-6:00am the following morning, depending on when they decide to open it.  So outside this area they have several areas for people to stay overnight.  They have this section on both floors in this area, so ample space.  The problem is all the food/drink/stores are in the actual terminal and even with a medical note, wearing a mask, being bald, trying to play the sympathy card, they just will not even give you a temporary pass or anything to get into the terminal to buy a fucking bottle of water, you are screwed.  At 11:00pm they also lock everything in the airport so even if you want to attempt to leave the airport, you can’t, you are stuck there until morning…. So why did I want to get in the terminal area to buy a bottle of water?  Well like I said before with the security, even if I had water to begin with, they would have taken it.  In this overnight area of the airport, which I was now locked in for the night, there are zero vending machines at all, there are zero water fountains (which yes I know is not a safe option for water, but just saying), there is no access to water at all or food for that matter.  You basically are locked in this 2 floor area with no food or water ALL NIGHT LONG!!!!!  And in this particular area they only had one bathroom area and I don’t think they clean it that often, it was disgusting and very dated, so there is no chance in hell of even pondering drinking water out of the tap.  I used the bathroom once after landing and waited until the terminal opened to go again, but with my lack of being able to drink anything all night, needing to go wasn’t an issue…  But seriously, airplane bathrooms were cleaner than this bathroom, and that says a lot….

So here I am stuck in this godawful airport overnight area from around 10:30pm till around 5:00am-6:00am with no water….  I did have a stockpile of Clif bars, granola bars, dried fruit, and trail mix, so I was good on food, but I opted to not really eat anything because of the whole not having anything to drink…..  I was not the only one upset with this dilemma, there were a whole lot of pissed off people in this overnight area, I mean you would at least expect the airport to have vending machines, I mean really they could make a shit-ton of money off people by having vending machines in these areas, especially if they sold bottled water, soda, something liquid… And none of the people who work in the airport speak English, well I’m sure they know English, I assume it’s required in their schools, they just refuse to speak any English at all.  And I even came prepared, I had Euros for this very purpose.  But back to spending my night in the airport.  So this overnight area does have some interesting seating, kinda lounge type chairs that are vinyl covered, which I will say because of how they were designed, it made for disinfecting them very easy.  A couple disinfecting wipes got the whole thing clean from top to bottom.  So I staked myself out on one of these things by a power outlet and didn’t move the entire night.  They actually do have quite a few power outlets and cell phone charging stations everywhere, so at least they provide something in the overnight area, no vending machines, but at least you can play on laptops or other devices all night long, while longing for a bottle of water…..Many people were trying to sleep on these chair things, and I myself even kicked back and just layed there for about 5 hours trying to relax, but relaxing or sleeping is not possible in this overnight area…..Why you may ask?  Because of airport security, seriously these 2 security guys would walk around every 20-30 minutes and wake people up or nudge them and ask to see your passport.  Because you know in this locked-in overnight area where nobody can enter or leave, we are all going to switch identity every 20-30 minutes….They were just walking around smiling and laughing the whole time, think they were getting off on the fact they were making everyone miserable.  So it was a very very very long night. But finally around 5:30am the gates opened and I could escape this hell known as the overnight area in this super dated airport.  Some bad pics from my time in this area….

So once the gates opened I was in line waiting to go through yet another security checkpoint, number 5 for this airport…. This was the big security checkpoint to actually get into the terminal so it was more invasive than the others.  I have to say for the major security checkpoint I was really expecting more from this airport, was just a metal detector, no body scanners… Didn’t have to remove shoes or belts here either, but did have to pull all electronics out of cases and put them in separate bins to run them through the machine.  Even my camera….  Never was asked to remove my mask or show my face, nor did they check my passport, all they wanted to see was my boarding pass.  I did get singled out to do the swabbing of my hands and belly, which I was fine there, if anything I’d test positive for hand sanitizer…But once I got through all of that, I was free to actually find a store to buy water….  And jesus it is hard to find an actual store in the airport that actually sells souvenirs, bottled water, etc. Almost all the stores in the terminal I was in were selling high-end French clothing, jewelry, candy, food, etc.  I think I found the only store in that area that actually sold regular bottled water. And not that I could eat any food there, but there was pretty much no place in that terminal that actually sold normal food, it was all high end stuff.  So then I made my way to my gate and staked out my seat for the duration of my layover.  This was a flight from Paris to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota so pretty much everyone on the flight was from the USA and spoke English.  Actually was rather odd sitting there in the airport hearing so many people speak English, I hadn’t encountered that in more than a month, so took some getting used to.  Unfortunately on this flight was numerous small children that were screaming non-stop in the airport, including one very annoying girl around 4 years old that was screeching the song Let It Go from Frozen non-stop for about 2 hours straight and the parents just kept laughing and saying, “oh she’s just so cute isn’t she?”  No, no she isn’t cute, she is fucking annoying as hell and pissing off everyone in this section of the airport, but for your sake, yes your child is oh so precious and everyone just loves her.  I have young children, including one that age, and maybe I’m odd but I would never let me child behave like that in public, it’s just flat out rude and apparently my children are well behaved because they know to behave in public and would not be running around screaming and annoying the hell out of everyone in the vicinity.  But I had my bottle of water, so I could tolerate it.  But seriously I think airlines should offer child-free flights, I’d fork out a little extra money to not deal with screaming little brats for 10 hours straight, just saying.  I mean honestly maybe people won’t admit it, but a long flight without screaming children and babies would make flying a much better experience.  I realize people with kids need to fly as well, but offering a few flights without children could be a money-maker for the airlines, I mean they charge for everything else, they should consider it…

So finally after over 13 hours my flight left at 10:45am.  Some pictures above of my plane, my view, me in the plane excited to finally be making my way back to the states, and my row on the plane.  So as you see from my above picture, I had a window seat on my long flight but it was over the wing….  My seat originally was in the back of the plane, by the tail.  The seat that I had requested back in February and was my confirmed seat all the way up to actually getting on the plane in Paris, when the lady at the gate informed me that I had been moved to accommodate the family that I mentioned above with the screaming brat singing the Frozen song….Normally I would have thrown a fit because I paid for the seat and that is the seat I wanted and technically they would have had to give me the seat if I wanted it because it was on my original boarding pass both from Russia and the new one that I was given in Paris at the counter, but it appears they located almost all the screaming children in the back of the plane, so fuck it, by the wing works for me….Screaming brat can have my seat, do not want to deal with that for 10 hours…  Unfortunately in the middle section in the row behind me was a French family with a toddler that screamed and threw tantrums most of the flights, but ironically every time I turned around and stared at the child, my mask freaked him out and it shut him right up. The mom did not seem impressed with me and glared at me every time, but whatever, don’t care.  Yeah I’ll admit it, I was an ass in doing that, but seriously, shut your damn child up.  But my flight actually was pretty empty back to the states, I’d say it was only about half full, at least in my section of coach.  It was an Airbus A330 so had a 2-4-2 seating configuration.  There was a man in the seat next to me and we were chatting before the flight and we noticed that the flight was pretty empty so he decided prior to taking off to go sit in the empty window seat on the opposite side of the plane in hopes that the seat wouldn’t be occupied, and it wasn’t, so then later on after take-off he retrieved his stuff and sat over there.  In my entire row there was just me and him in the window seats and then 1 guy in the middle section, so 3 people for 8 seats, not too bad.  But really the exciting part was taking off and getting the hell out of France, not at all impressed with the country, don’t ever plan to go back, my experience there was just that bad. But some pics from take-off, bad quality, but you know, I was just excited to leave Paris.

So this flight actually wasn’t too bad, it was on an actual Delta plane and like on my trip over the entertainment options were pretty good.  Had the huge movie selection to choose from, new releases to classics to everything in between, along with various seasons of TV shows, games, etc.  Since my flight a month prior they did switch up the movies and TV series a bit so that was nice.  I ended up watching Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 and Vacation, then tried to sleep the rest of the time, which completely failed for me.  They served lunch on this flight and they actually serve hot meals, so hot that you literally cannot eat them for about 10 minutes.  I figured the vegetarian pasta option would be a safer bet than the chicken meal, so went vegetarian this time around.  Pretty much everything else included in the meal was pre-packaged, so I could eat everything that I was given minus the salad.  On the flight they also did several rounds of snacks, the typical peanuts and pretzels, nothing super exciting there.  But the flight attendants on this flight were much more accommodating than on my first flight and I knew that randomly they would come around and actually give out bottles of water once during the flight so I asked the flight attendant if they could get me a bottle of water with my meal as well and they were happy to do that for me, even though it is supposed to be just 1 per person per flight.  But the plane wasn’t full so I knew they would have a ton extra. The flight itself was pretty uneventful, not much turbulence.  I only had to use the bathroom once towards the end of the flight and it was disgusting, people really are nasty vile creatures.  I used several disinfectant wipes to clean the toilet area before attempting to squat to pee without falling over and then used copious quantities of hand sanitizer upon returning to my seat.  We ended up landing in Minnesota about 10 minutes early so that was a plus.  Some views of Minnesota before landing.

So MSP airport was my first place to touch USA soil, which means needing to go through USA immigrations and customs there.  I have relatives in Minnesota that have traveled internationally a fair bit so had talked to them about how long this would take and it sounded like 2 hours was the norm for this airport, not too bad considering some of the other airports in the US.  Luckily when our plane landed it was one of the first international flights of the day so there were no lines at all.  For US citizens customs was super easy, it’s all electronic now so you just go up to a little kiosk, scan your passport, it asks you questions, you answer them, the machine takes your picture (I did have to remove the mask for that obviously), then it prints you out a receipt that you then take to the immigrations booth.  I had to wait in line about 10 minutes until it was my turn to get to the immigration/passport control booth, it was a pretty easy process.  The man looked at my passport, I pulled my mask off so he could verify my identity, asked where all I traveled, asked me if I had any fruit, veggies, meat, or alcohol in my bags, which I didn’t have, then he said welcome back to the US, bet your glad to be out of Russia, and I was then on my way to collect my suitcase off the belt.  Of course mine was one of the last bags off the plane so I had to wait about 15 minutes to retrieve it.  Then it was off to pass through the customs booth.  Handed the man my passport and paper customs form, I was again asked if I had any fruit, veggies, meat, or alcohol, said no and he said welcome back to the US and I was on my way.  Never had my bags searched.  I then deposited my suitcase onto the belt to get it back into the baggage area and then I was done with that.  In less than 45 minutes I had gotten through that whole mess, quite impressive really.

My plane arrived a little before 1:00pm and my flight to Boise was leaving at 7:59pm, so I had quite a lot of time to kill so I opted to leave that area of the airport and headed to the baggage area and sat outside a bit to get some fresh air. Why did I leave the secure area of the airport you may ask, well as I said above I have relatives in Minnesota and one of my cousins who I hadn’t seen in 14 years opted to come to the airport to hang out with me for a bit.  So in order to make communicating easier I opted to switch to a basic mask for the occasion.  She was there with me for a little over an hour before she needed to head home, but it was great getting to talk to her for a bit and it made my layover go a bit faster.  I then headed back through security which didn’t really take all too long.  As everyone knows who travels in the US, our security here and TSA is quite the ordeal to go through.  First you show your ID, either a passport or US driver’s license, and your boarding pass. You have to remove shoes, belts, coats, hats, everything from your pockets including things like kleenex, laptops from their bags, all your liquids including hand sanitizer must be less than 3 ounces and placed in a quart sized bag, it cannot be any other sized bag, it must be a quart sized bag or they will refuse to allow it to pass through.  This airport however did have a rack with complimentary quart sized bags, not sure if all airports have that, but it was a nice touch.  So after stripping down, went through the metal detector, then through the body scanner, then to retrieve my numerous tubs of items to put everything back where it belonged as well as to put my shoes back on.  Ironically after all that, they never asked me to remove my mask.  Then it was onwards to my gate.

20160526_180704

Countdown for the Final Flight Home

So by the time I got to my gate I still had a 2 hour wait for my flight.  I knew it wasn’t a good sign when they already had counter people there at the gate.  They started walking around and talking to everyone sitting there waiting for the flight, apparently the flight was overbooked, by 15 people….Not surprising, when I booked the flight I got one of the last 2 seats available on the flight. So they were trying to convince people that they wanted to give up their seat and fly home the next day. They were desperate at that time they were offering a night in a nice motel, $500 cash, and 2 roundtrip tickets anywhere in the continental US.  Which I will say is quite a nice deal for someone, but it didn’t matter how much they would pay me, I just wanted to get home. They asked me twice, both times I refused.  When they switched counter people I then went up there and inquired about boarding first as I needed extra time to board and was told that I’d be one of the first to board, after that they stopped harassing me about giving up my seat.  I will admit that I did play up the situation, I hobbled my way up there and did act like I had worse walking problems then I did, and I did feel guilty about it, but dammit I did not want to get bumped from that flight and in the end they did forcibly bump people from the flight because nobody would take the deal.  But you could tell this flight was going to Boise because 90% of people on the plane were sporting some type of BSU clothing, so just out of spite, I decided in the airport that I needed to put on my hat, my University of Idaho Vandal hat, because quite frankly BSU sucks and UI kicks ass, end of story, ha! But when it finally came around to boarding the plane I was up at the gate first, no way I was getting bumped off the flight and I was the first person to board the plane, score one for me.

So the above pictures were my view out the window.  Like always I try to sit in the tail section of the plane.  I had a window seat, 3 rows up from the back.  This plane was an MD-90, a very ancient plane that has tail engines.  On this type of plane apparently the furthest back you want to sit is 3 rows from the back, because if you sit further back and have a window seat you literally look at the side of the engine and can see nothing.  But where I was, I was right in front of the engine, so I had a nice view. Now I will say these old planes are incredibly noisy and really I am amazed any of them are still in service…I thought most airlines had retired these planes, but apparently Delta still uses them to fly to Boise…  Now these planes have an odd 3-2 seat configuration and I was on the side that had 3 seats, but I did have the window seat so it wasn’t bad.  And obviously the flight was 100% full.  The flight itself was horrible, not gonna lie, it was 3 hours of really really bad turbulence the entire trip to Boise.  There were bad storms over the Dakotas and then worse storms over the Rockies. I mean it was so bad that we didn’t even get snacks or beverages because the plane was bouncing around the entire time, the seatbelt sign never went off.  Finally when we got about 100 miles from the airport the turbulance died down and the captain said people could get up and use the bathroom if they wanted to.  So it was a very bumpy, very noisy flight.  On the plus side I was so exhausted that I did manage to doze off a few times even with all the bouncing around.  Some pictures from my flight, I did get to watch the sunset and it was quite nice.

Despite the crazy amount of turbulence on the flight and leaving Minnesota about 20 minutes late, we ended up landing in Boise about 20 minutes early.  We landed at about 9:45pm when we were supposed to arrive around 10:08pm.  This was the last flight of the night for the Boise Airport so the baggage was very prompt, by the time I got to the baggage area all the bags were already there and the belt had stopped for the night.  But really the best part was getting through the doors and getting hugs from my girls and my hubby, made the 36 hours of flights all worth it.  Well my youngest really wasn’t sure about me and my mask, I had switched to a basic mask after using the bathroom as to not scare everyone too much. But once we got into the parking lot and I pulled off the mask she was more accepting of me.  Of course with her being younger, 18 months old, and me being gone a month, she really wasn’t too sure of me and my bald head until the next day when she was more coherent and then she all over me wanting to be held and cuddled.  Now my oldest was all about hugging me and was chatting up a storm.  But really what she wanted to do more than anything was to rub her hands on my bald head which I let her do when we got out to the car.  I mean the child has been obsessed with my head the entire time that I was in Russia, I mean for a while she was getting angry with me that I wasn’t losing my hair fast enough, but now that I am pretty much bald she just thinks it’s awesome and the coolest thing ever and constantly wants to touch my head when I’m not rocking the bandana. I mean my head and hair loss was her main topic of conversation in video chats while I was in Russia.  Children really are fascinated with the strangest things sometime.

But after landing in Boise we had about a 2 hour drive home, but the speed limit on the interstate is 80mph and traffic is fairly light at night, mainly just semi trucks, so it wasn’t a bad drive.  Both kids were asleep within 30 minutes and stayed asleep until we got home.  Wasn’t sure how bed time would go for them, but everyone was exhausted so they went to bed willingly and fell asleep right away.  I said screw dealing with my luggage and I showered and went to bed.

So that was my 36 hour and 22 minute journey home, followed up by a 2 hour drive to actually get to my house.  It was long, grueling, frustrating at times, but in the end it was worth it to just get home and see my family.  I would recommend people opt for much shorter layovers, but if you can’t swing that, it’s doable and you have to make the best out of the situations you get put into.  Try to have fun with it.  By wearing a mask you ensure that nobody will sit near you so that is always a plus.

Now I will describe a bit how I tried to keep my section of the plane clean.  I brought a container of disinfectant wipes from home as well as several bottles of hand sanitizer.  When boarding I wiped down my seat area, arm rest, tray table, window area, seatbelt, basically everything I would touch with the wipes.  I also wiped down my tray table before eating.  I also grabbed a couple wipes if I needed to use the bathroom to wipe down the toilet seat and door handle.  I then used sanitizer when returning from the bathroom.  I also used hand sanitizer before and after eating food and then after touching anything else.  I also opted to wear my fancy mask during every flight, only exception is when eating or drinking.  Also of course when I got beverages I did wipe them down with a sanitizing wipe to ensure they were clean.  I also did opt to use the blanket and pillow on  my long flight, they come sealed in plastic so I figured they were safe enough to use.  In the airports themselves I also used the disinfectant wipes to clean down the area I sat in, wiped down the armrests and chair.  I also used a lot of hand sanitizer in the airports.  When using the airport bathrooms I used the wipes and wiped down the toilet seat and door handle, then after leaving the bathroom used hand sanitizer.   I didn’t go completely overboard like some people do, but I thought that what I did was safe enough for me. Again personal preference with how crazy you get, and also personal preference on wearing a mask the whole time.

This was a long post, but there you have it, my journey home…

Advertisements

About Cat

I'm an outdoorsy gal, wife, mom of 2 and MS Warrior. I underwent HSCT in Russia in April/May 2016 to halt my MS and documented my entire journey while I was there in my blog and am now continuing to blog through my recovery.
This entry was posted in HSCT in Russia and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s