51 Stages Of International Flying Every Global Traveler Knows All Too Well


You know the feeling. You arrive at the airport, bag that you were still packing ‘til the last minute that’s practically bursting at the seams in hand, stoked to go on another adventure. You’re all ready to go, e-ticket info on lock as you arrive at the departures hall, only to remember that you have ten or more hours of cramped traveling that just might make you slip into a boredom and insomnia-induced catatonic state.

As they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, right? Here are 51 stages that just about everyone who has taken an international flight has experienced:

1. Arrive at the airport enthusiastic the trip.

2. Morph to dismay upon discovering the bag drop line is like that of a Disneyland ride queue in July.

3. Obtain boarding pass and hold out hope that your seat, 27 E, is not in the middle of the middle.

4. Arrive at security and carefully select the shortest queue.

5. Give a death stare to guy in front who must’ve forgotten he had a flight today and elected to wear all of the metal in the world.

6. Increase death stare intensity as he is patted down, motioned back through, and stops first to empty his pockets of change.

7. Step down from the high horse upon forgetting to remove your shoes and getting scolded by the TSA agents.

8. Consider how bad a pat down could really be.

9. Decide to retain dignity and take a shot of radiation in the body scanner.

10. Frantically reassemble bag and hop on one foot while putting your boots back on as security bins keep moving down the line.

11. Check watch and and see that there’s still 45 minutes until boarding and look for a bar.

12. Buy a $13 glass of wine – the cheapest on the menu.

13. Cross fingers for a meal on the plane because the sandwich is $15 – nope!

14. Hear stomach growl, buy $15 sandwich.

15. Get overconfident about time until departure and start poking around airport stores.

16. Decide to buy compression socks so that your feet don’t swell to the size of elephant feet during the fight.

17. What?! $32 for socks?!

18. Begrudgingly Purchase socks and try not to acknowledge that this vacay already cost an additional $75 and it hasn’t even started yet.

19. Wonder how many people really buy those giant lolly pops and Toblerones in duty free.

20. Eye flirt with the fancy vodka.

21. Realize it’s $50 even in duty free and back away slowly.

22. Totally lose track of time while zoning out to animated perfume ads the size of a normal person’s living room wall.

23. Run, arms flailing, to the gate for the final boarding call.

24. Board the plane and realize that seat E is, indeed, in the middle of the middle row.

25. Settle in for the 13-hour flight with blanket and sad, flimsy airline pillow in tow.

26. Play the dreaded game of armrest hockey with your neighbor and consider vocalizing that the person in the middle of the middle should get free armrest reign as a consolation prize.

27. Flip through the movies and carefully make a selection whilst anxiously anticipating the beverage cart.

28. Take advantage of the free wine. Twice.

29. Wonder why you picked a movie with all the feels because movie crying on a plane is mildly awkward.

30. Cry anyway.

31. Channel inner contortionist in order to find a comfortable sleeping position.

32. Consider which is worse: swollen feet or the tingly, numb sensation from the compression socks.

33. Wish you’d bribed your cousin for an ambien last week.

34. Half-sleep for an hour. Try for two but it’s in vain.

35. Try reading something dense and involved. Does the trick. Out for 2 more hours. A curse in college becomes a skill in flight.

36. Get excited about USB port on plane a plug in phone despite 88% battery just because you can.

37. Get excited about Wi-Fi, realize it’s also $25, and it’s not worth it just to update Facebook status about Wi-Fi on a plane.

38. But honestly how is that even possible to connect to Wi-Fi on a plane?! The world at large needs to know!

39. Waffle back and forth for ten minutes about which neighbor to wake up to get into the aisle to use the bathroom.

40. Pick the one who played armrest hockey. Sweet revenge!

41. Wait in 10-person bathroom line.

42. Awkwardly shimmy and squeeze to the side as people try to pass by. Try not to accidentally touch or be touched awkwardly during the process.

43. Wonder what the etiquette is on pushing the steward call button for the purpose of obtaining more wine.

44. Decide it’s probably frowned upon but wish it wasn’t.

45. Check flight info on screen and realize there are still 7 hours left.

46. Cry a little inside.

47. Look through the movies again and consider watching a chick flick, even though you hate them, but it’s okay as long as you didn’t pay to see it in the theater, right?

48. Wrong, one hour into the movie you remember why you hate chick flicks.

49. It’s breakfast time! The choice is steamed eggs and grey sausage or sad oatmeal. There are no winners in the game of breakfast cuisine.

50. The captain announces it’s time to land! The sweet end is nigh.

51. Land, finally de-plane and consider throwing arms up in sweet victory for getting through yet another long-haul flight. Adventure awaits!

All it takes is one trip. Read about the adventure that changed Kristin Addis’ life in her new book A Thousand New Beginnings here.