Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So, how was your flight?

Here we are in Seoul at last.  After months of planning, confusion, tears, excitement, anticipation, more confusion, and the final grueling stretch of packing, we finally did it.  We got on a plane and - 18 or so hours later - ended up in Seoul.

The flight itself was not bad, although - regrettably -  we did not have enough frequent flyer miles to upgrade the 3 of us to Business Class and therefore had to fly steerage economy.  Son #2 was perfectly happy with the situation because there was an almost-constant stream of video playing on the drop down screens:  he's not a picky child: he'll watch just about anything, although he was forced to resort to actually reading when the airline offerings had deteriorated to old episodes of 'Frasier.'  Mr. Logical did exactly what he always does on planes and fell asleep as soon as his seatbelt was buckled, only waking intermittently to eat and watch an occasional DVD.  As for me,  I did relatively well  considering that I was sandwiched in between the two of them for the entire flight, experiencing only one claustrophia-induced momentary nervous breakdown around hour 10 when I could not extricate myself in the darkened airplane from the various blankets, pillows, seatbelts, headphone cords and underseat luggage enough to find my shoes and crawl over Mr. Logical into the aisle in order to make my way to the lavatory.  I did, however, manage to pull myself together quickly enough to avoid any real loss of dignity - or at least that's what I told myself.

But really, for such a long flight, it really was not bad at all.  I would not go so far as to agree with Son #2, who stated:  "That flight was GREAT!"  But I will say that it was not as bad as I'd feared, and the airline was clever enough to keep feeding us at intervals so we had intermittent diversions.

So the flight itself was just fine.  However, getting on and off the flight was another story altogether.  I can't really do justice to the entire giant logistical challenge we experienced while trying to get ourselves checked in at the airport, so I'll simply tell you that travel was, shall we say,  complicated  by Mr. Logical's insistence on carrying with us and checking as luggage, his beloved bicycle.  Those of you who have read my blog for a while are aware that Mr. L is a serious cyclist, so it stands to reason that he would own a serious bicycle, which he does.  His bicycle - made out of titanium or platinum or something that is both strong and lightweight that escapes my memory now - weighs very little, was custom-made, and costs as much as some small cars. So yes, it stands to reason that he would be concerned for its welfare.  However, trailing around through the airport with most of our worldly goods in suitcases PLUS the giant rolling bike case really took our travel experience to a new level, not that we really needed any more complications.

Shepherded anxiously by Mr. Logical was the bicycle,  which had been lovingly dismantled, cleaned, checked and lubricated by the specialists at the bike shop and gently interred in its padded carrying case with as much care as the Queen's jewels. Mr. Logical - who had, of course, researched this extensively - planned to check the bicycle as one of our checked luggage pieces (Son #2 is insisting on my including here the fact that HE had to cram all of his belongings into one bag in order to allow Dad to check the bicycle...so I'm giving credit where credit is due) and pay an oversize fee in order to ensure that his darling traveled and arrived safely instead of languishing in the hands of the uncouth louts who must surely be handling our sea shipment (never mind that MY bicycle is traveling with said louts and Mr. Logical never blinked an eye.  Ah, the injustice....)

The case, which is roughly the size and shape of the biggest plasma television box you can imagine, is difficult to steer and took up far too much space in the line while we waited for check-in, garnering hostile stares from all the other sleep-deprived early morning international travelers.  While we were at the counter checking in (and doubtless being silently cursed by all the airline employees) the behemoth blocked the access to two other self-check kiosks and generally stopped all traffic in the line behind us.  Our mortification was only complete when it was discovered that one of our suitcases was a pound or two overweight, whereat Mr. Logical began randomly pulling out underwear, socks, and undershirts and stuffing them into other (underweight) bags until balance was achieved.   After this exercise had been completed and our suitcases fed into the gluttonous mouth of the conveyor belt, we were still not free of the albatross.  No, we were told to stand 'over there' and wait for an employee to escort Mr. Logical to a special area where the bicycle case would be personally inspected.  The three of us and our brooding hulk went 'over there'( which was still in the general traffic pattern) and continued in the ongoing alienation of our fellow-travelers.

After what seemed like a thousand years of waiting, we followed the yellow-vested safety specialist to the area where the bicycle would be examined for  - well, I don't know what it was examined for, but it stands to reason that, if danger can lurk in more than 3 ounces of moisturizer, the amount of danger that could be packed into a bicycle case would be significant.
Mr. Logical follows the safety specialist to his private screening.

Entering the private screening room.

Whatever was done to Mr. Logical behind closed doors, we will never know, but Son #2 and I were so relieved to see him again without the case, we didn't even bother to ask. We enjoyed the next 20 or so hours bicycle-free until we had an unwelcome (on my part) reunion with it at the baggage carousel in Inchon.

Naturally, we couldn't just waltz out of the airport, either.  Apparently the case was so intimidating looking, the airline people at Inchon insisted on x-raying it before we took it out, presumably to prevent us from smuggling something into the country inside it.

By the time we arrived at our hotel in Seoul and got the thing unloaded (no doubt permanently ruining the health of the poor limo driver), we had only the gauntlet of the hotel lobby and the elevator to run, and, after all we'd experienced, the few curious stares and shocked glances simply did not register on our radar. The bike case has been settled in a corner of one of the bedrooms, where it will stay until we go to move to our apartment, and, if we're lucky, Son #2 and I will get to ride over in a different car when it does go.

So, yeah.  The flight was fine.

5 comments:

Wilma said...

Too funny!! Does he get to write a rebuttal? LOL Glad to hear that your family AND the bicycle made it safely.

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

I shouldn't laugh but even the title of your post had me smirking.

Hope the settling in continues well and that the beast in the black bag has survived its ordeal!

MsCaroline said...

@Wilma: his only rebuttal so far has been that it was MY underwear being pulled out of the overweight bag; otherwise, he agreed that I presented the situation fairly...surprise!
@Trish: It's definitely a loaded question, isn't it? If I'm lucky, I will not have to interface with the 'beast' again anytime soon...I tell you I trembled for the well-being of our little taxi driver when we were unloading at the hotel....

Karen said...

My favorite part...the visual image of you struggling out of the seat in a claustrophobic panic. As a person who is mildly claustrophobic, I can sympathize! The saga of the bike had me rolling as well. I have a mental image of the bike, as well, and it gleams as though made of gold. Might as well be! Glad all are safely there...well almost all. Keep us posted on the adventures. The rest of us have to live vicariously. Last day of school tomorrow for the kiddos!

MsCaroline said...

Karen - it was really pretty horrible, although I made light of it. I really did feel like I was going to have a panic attack...so glad school's almost out for you and will look forward to hearing how summer theater goes!