Thursday, June 28, 2012


I am not a traveller. Oh, I do it and I'm fairly good at it and good natured about it, but if left to my own devices, I would not wander far from home. I enjoy going places, seeing new sites or old friends, I love taking pictures and having foreign experiences, but I'm not a traveller. My thoughts tend to wander toward the comforts of home, toward making a home, making it a refuge, making it the place where I want to be. That said, I do need to get away from home on occasion to stop my endless list of jobs I set for myself and truly relax. M is a traveller. Her thoughts tend toward "the next place" on her list of places she wants to see, things she wants to experience, and new foods to try. So it's always interesting when we travel. M is more easily stressed when things don't go smoothly, any change to the travel plans, or any glitch in the accommodations, and she starts worrying. I'm more of a "we'll get there when we get there" or "it will all work out in the end" type of person. So to begin my series of posts about our recent trip to Estonia and Finland, I think I should tell you about the travel end of it first.

We live just under 3 hours drive from Dulles International airport, on a good day with no traffic or weather problems. M, who is ever cognizant of such problems, plans for us to leave for the airport with extra hours built into to the schedule to account for any single mishap. So it really wasn't her fault when we hit rain, highway work, and massive traffic backups on our way to the airport. It also was out of her control if security was extra slow. M and I are both control freaks in our own ways, but thankfully over different things. So M was freaking out that we were going to miss our flight to Germany, and therefore also our connecting flight to Estonia, and then she would miss her first meeting in Estonia the next day. I was all, "it's going to be fine, we'll get there," which in itself had to be annoying for her. As it turned out, the extra couple of hours she built into our drive to the airport and getting through security in time, were completely eaten up and we made it to the gate as our flight was boarding. At which point M began worrying whether our flight would take off on time or be delayed because of another rainstorm moving in. Everything went well, we made it out in front of the storm so M could finally relax, at which point I began to freak out that the plane would crash, I'd never see my babies again, and all manner of worries that people imagine who are afraid of flying. It's a good thing we take turns with our worrying and control issues.

Okay, all that mess behind us, there's something you need to know about airlines. I don't know if they are all doing this, but United Airlines and Lufthansa began doing this during our trip. So when we originally booked our trip, we had confirmed seats together. By the night before our flight, the airline had separated us in different seats in different rows. It turns out in addition to trying to make up financial shortfalls by charging extra for luggage, they also decided to charge extra for aisle seats and window seats. If we wanted to sit together, one of us would have to pay extra, because in a row of 3 seats, there is only one middle seat and the window and aisle seats are now extra. Because the airline moved us without notifying us, by the time we found out, the only seats left for us to purchase together were an upgrade in a different part of the plane. M spent hundreds of extra dollars getting all our seats to and from together. Personally, I think this was a very sucky move for the airline to make after we had already purchased our seats. I will say, with the upgrade, we had more leg room which made a world of difference in flying for 10 hours. I will say we had pretty good flights with little turbulance with smooth take-offs and landings. So I can't fault the pilots for anything. They did an excellent job, and the food and the flight stewards were very nice. That doesn't mean I got over my fear of flying, it just means I had less to stress over.

My next post will begin with the sights of Estonia. Stay tuned.


wunelle said...

Interesting. I tend to see you as a traveler, but I see it's maybe not your natural element. Susan and I are a bit like that, both being travelers to a degree but me much more than her. But we travel well together.

We had exactly the same thing with United and I ended up wanting to machine gun the whole company by the time it was over. Something like six phone calls totaling over 4 hours on hold and we still have not got a resolution (well, we got the extra money we weren't supposed to have had to pay back, but not the rest of it). I wrote an extensive bitch letter to the company demanding a pair of free tickets for our trouble. So far... nothing. We'll see.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

The changing of seats and charging extra for seats is the most appalliung "travel" story I've heard recently....How Dare They!
You know, I'm really glad I cannot travel anymore---it sounds so incredibly hard, in every way....! It's wrong, on every level---and charfing for baggage---PLEASE!!!!!
Forget it. I'll stay home.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Wunelle, yes, I do travel alot, and in my younger days I was a bit of a wanderer, but these days I'm happiest at home and all the travelling is done because of M.

Naomi, yes, travel is a hassle when airplanes are involved. I totally forgot to mention going through 3 layers of security when coming back through Germany. Germany's gov't, the airline's security and the U.S. gov't all had us go through machines, scanned carryons and patdowns before we were allowed to board the plane. Each area of the airport was secured so I'm not sure how they expected us to be smuggling anything going through each of their security checkpoints back- to-back.