They say all good things must come to an end. I suppose it is true. But what “they” don’t dare tell you, is how messy that end can be!
Anticipating the Flight Home
Ireland was irresistibly interesting and kept us incredibly intrigued for 7 days. We woke up early Saturday morning anticipating the flight home. We checked out of our hotel and were the first in line when the restaurant opened for breakfast.
The taxi came to take us to the airport. It’s hard to describe how I felt. I was excited to be heading home. I looked forward to my own bed and the familiarity of my things. I also lamented (is that too strong a word?) leaving the beauty and adventure of Ireland.
Airport websites say to arrive three hours ahead of an international flight. So, we did. But Cork’s airport is incredibly convenient and it was more time than we needed.
Rushing for the Flight Home
Too bad we couldn’t bank that time! Because when we landed at Heathrow, we barely had enough. We rushed through the huge, intimidating airport as fast as we could, and arrived at the gate just in time. Our plane was already boarding.
Michael and I did not sit together, as my company had purchased one ticket and we had purchased the other separately. So, I will speak for myself from here on out. I arrived at my seat, out of breath, and overwhelmed.
But this was the flight home. I had no more connections to worry about. Just 10 hours in the air to endure.
The plane doors closed, the engines revved, and the air grew stuffy. I’m not sure why that happens but it seems the fresh air doesn’t start flowing until the plane is in the air. Is that something you’ve experienced also?
Flight Home, Delay #1
We were set for take off. Except we didn’t. Finally, the captain came over the speaker and said we were delayed waiting for a passenger who was injured on the escalator. He would update us once a medical team could assess the situation.
We’d been sitting for almost an hour by the time the captain came on again and told us a medical team was arriving on scene. I had three thoughts:
- This airport is too big! Even emergency medical personnel can’t get where they need to be in a respectable amount of time.
- That could easily have been us, as we rushed to make our connection.
- The injury must not be too bad if tending to it could wait this long.
Eventually, the door opened, and a passenger boarded. There were no visible signs of injury. I guess all my thoughts were correct.
We taxied to the runway and took off. We’d already been sitting for over an hour. We had 10 more to go. I squirmed thinking about it!
Time went backward as I sat in that capsule flying home. It is disorienting enough to enter a plane on one continent and exit it on a whole different one, but going through so many time zones adds another surreal element to it all. After what seemed like forever, and also no time at all, we were approaching Phoenix.
Flight Home, Delay #2
The captain came on again. He said there were thunderstorms over the Phoenix airport, and we’d need to circle above them until they passed. He updated his message a short time later, saying there was no estimate on how long it would take the storms to pass, and we didn’t have enough fuel to circle. We would divert and refuel in Las Vegas..
It was then my legs began to revolt. My mind had obviously told them they were going to stretch and walk soon. When that was not to be the case, they argued hard in achy defiance.
Flight Home, Delay #3
The Las Vegas airport had very little time to prepare for our unplanned visit. It took them quite a while to coordinate and accommodate us. Our delay there took several hours.
Of course, there was no more food and no extra beverages to serve. The kids on board were growing especially restless. I felt for their parents.
All the while, we sat on the plane. We could awkwardly stand by our seats. From where I was, on the aisle, I had more space than many, so I tried to share it and focus on being grateful.
Flying Home, Again
Eventually we were told to fasten our seatbelts. We were finally cleared for takeoff. We were flying home, again.
The storms had abated in Phoenix, and we were able to land. By the time the airplane doors opened, and we walked off, we had spent more than 15 hours packed like sardines in that cylinder of recycled air.
It felt SO good to be off the plane. I know people travel further and endure longer flights. I think you mentally prepare for what is ahead of you. I had readied myself for 10 hours.
Lesson learned: over-estimate the flight-time expectation. It would be better to find it shorter than expected if all goes right!
Michael and I reunited at the gate where hundreds of poor people were waiting to board our plane and go wherever it was headed next. It was 5+ hours overdue. We went to baggage claim to gather our belongings.
Flight Home, Delay #4
We celebrated when our bags were the first to arrive onto the carousel. Two of our three were, literally, the first two off the conveyer belt. And then we waited for the third.
We waited and waited as one by one, hundreds of our fellow passengers collected their luggage and left. We were the last people left standing in baggage claim and our bag never came. Delayed again! We got in line at the help desk.
Luggage Missed the Flight Home
We enjoyed standing after sitting on the plane and before driving home. We focused on that while we waited. When our turn came, it was discovered that our third bag was still in England. We remembered back to the rush through Heathrow and thanked God because aside from His grace, we would have missed the flight home too.
We completed paperwork and were told the luggage would be delivered to our home in 48 hours. I’m glad I didn’t know then that it would actually take over a week because it would get lost 2 more times before finally arriving at our house.
Disoriented by the Flight Home
It was now well into tomorrow, Ireland time, and we were completely disoriented. Well, I was. My husband was doing better than me.
We exited the terminal into the parking garage in a completely different place than we’d entered 8 days earlier. So much had happened since our departure that we had no idea where to find our car. Thankfully, my husband had the foresight to suggest we take pictures of the floor number, zone letter, and stall sequence.
Driving After the Flight Home
We live 2 1/2 hours from the airport. It was approaching midnight, local time, when we found our car. We needed gas, desperately wanted food, and hoped to find coffee so we could stay awake driving home. We found all of this in “not the best” part of town, but it was a Godsend!
We tag teamed the driving so whoever was feeling awake could be behind the wheel. We praised God when we made it home. Our own bed never felt so nice!
The Blessing of the Flight Home
Thank you so much for enduring our long flight home. And for making yourself at home, here on the Back Porch for this Ireland series. You all have been the most gracious of travel buddies.
Believe it or not, our eventful flight home, and ensuing jet lag, was a blessing. The intrigue of Ireland was irresistibly interesting but traveling often is not possible for us. We ended this trip, all said and done, content with that reality. If the travel bug had bitten us in Ireland, the flight home healed us.
In the month that has followed, there have been a few standouts among the intriguing moments and lessons we learned in Ireland. Those will be the subject of my next post, which will be the series finale. Until then, blessings, my sweet friends!
Curious how this Ireland trip came about?
Click here for the introduction post.