Contest! Share your “stickiest” travel situation and win a Kindle!! (closed)

a man with a heart on his chestWhether you are scared, annoyed, anxious or nervous, your armpits let you know when you feel stressed.  And yet they have been largely overlooked–until now. Mitchum is encouraging you to “Love Thy Pits” with the new Advanced Control™ stick/solid antiperspirant and deodorant, providing 48 hours of protection for men and women.

In the “Love Thy Pits” spirit, I thought it would be fun for you all to share your most stressful, (ahem) sticky travel Invalid request error occurred.stories. You could win a Kindle! You know how much I love my Kindle….it helps make all my trips way less stressful and way more fun.

How to enter? Post a comment (approx 100 words) about your worst trip — the worst seat mate ever, a late flight blowing a big deal, or getting lost in the wilds of Ohio. These unmentionable moments deserve a public airing out! Then turn it around–what would you do differently next time? Give a tip so the rest of the readers can avoid the same (ahem) sticky situation. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, August 19. In addition to a Kindle, the winner will win a Mitchum stick. Only one entry per person. I’m not planning to nit-pick and count how many words used in the comment, but please, no one-liners. And more than a hundred words is perfectly fine. Give us a story!


  1. On one of those severely-delayed flights after a looooong day of working, I was stuck next to the guy who decided it was a good time to set up which ringtone to use on his new cell phone. Yes, all those little annoying dings, blings, doo-doo-doo’s were all coming out of this guy’s phone at full volume. First of all, how was he allowed to turn on his phone mid-flight? It wasn’t a Blackberry where you can turn off the wireless function. It was a Razr2. Second, if you’re going to bend/break the rules, do it discreetly! Everyone was turning around to see whose phone was ringing off the hook, and he had no problems just listening to each one. On top of that, he smelled really bad. (PROBABLY COULD’VE USED A STICK OF MITCHUM!!!)

    I’m pretty good at ignoring people, but next time, noise-cancelling headphones, more dirty looks and scouting out an empty seat would be some better options.

  2. Worst trip: flying to Vegas with connection in Houston. Regional jet taking me to Houston grounded due to high winds (they get grounded over a slight breeze due to size). All RJ flights cancelled due to wind. Ask to be put on other airline at same airport with 737s. Told they can’t do that (which I get, but if everyone else is taking off, you need to do something) Offer to drive to Houston to pick up connection, told my seat was given away once my RJ flight was cancelled. This happens into the next day as RJ flights are still cancelled. I ask to be rebooked out of Houston, and will drive there. They say they booked me out of Houston for that afternoon and in first class. I decide to buy a ticket on another airline for that morning to actually salvage some part of my trip. When I call to cancel my first class flight to Vegas, I find out they didn’t really book me on that flight (which I would have driven four hours for), and had instead booked me for the next day (aka, the night before I was coming home).

    Advice: If I had a crystal ball, I would have bought the one-way ticket the first time my flight was cancelled and not paid for a night in a Vegas room I didn’t sleep in. Airlines are dealing with thousands of passengers with the same problems as you, so be as proactive as possible and hunt for your own solutions, even if it means turning to another airline. The part that burns my biscuits is that they lied about re-booking me, and had I actually driven to Houston for that flight, they would have had a crazy woman on their hands.

    p.s. I realize this is way over 100 words, but there really is something to learn from this!

  3. I had come into Camp Al Saliya in the Qatari desert via a military transport from Baghdad. I was supposed to be on site for a few days to give some briefings and get some downtime. What was supposed to be a few days ballooned into over a month of work and refitting programs for the next bunch units that were slated for the sandbox. When I finally was told I was released from the region, I was given two tickets on a commercial airline heading directly back to the states. I wrapped up my work packed my meager belongings and grabbed a cab to Doha International Airport with the hopes of setting foot on American soil for the first time in over a year. In haste, I hit the customs line, pulling out my well-worn passport and dropping it on the desk of the utterly bored Qatari customs agent. He grabbed it up and leafed through the pages a couple of times before excusing himself to speak with a supervisor. Next thing I know I am surrounded by Qatari defense forces and the realization of what has happened starts to needle into my mind. The supervisor confirms my fears, since I had not come into the country through conventional means I had never had an entry stamp. With some well placed assurances, and I am sure a promise of a date night, I was permitted to leave the airport and return to Al Saliya. Soon after returning to the base, I was put in contact with a senior Air Force officer who was acting as a liaison with the host nation. She took me and my passport to a shady customs office at a border checkpoint, gave the official a wad of American cash, and he stamped me into the country. I was then able to go back to the airport and pass through customs and stamp right back out, catch a flight to Rome and then back to sweet American sunshine. It was a convoluted process but it beats the heck out of sitting in a Qatari holding cell without any deodorant.

  4. One time I was on a long international flight. My seat mate, her IFE was broken and mine was working. Naturally guess what she does? She decides to join me as I am watching my own thing, leaning over. That’s not all, she then proceeds to basically tell me she wants to watch something else. Anyhows I ignore her, turn off the IFE and go to sleep after the meal. I wake up to, to find her, in my astonishment, watching my IFE. I ask her, does she have any curtesy? and she just shrugs. Frustration level was at an all-time high.

  5. Worst seat mate ever? I was 14 years old flying alone to visit my grandfather in New Orleans. Got seated and a lady who smelled awful (she could have used some 48 hour protection) sat in the aisle leaving the middle seat empty. After take off, I fell asleep on the window. I woke up and she had pulled up the arm rest and spread out on the middle seat. Her bare feet were resting against my leg.

  6. I recently went on a trip for a class (college) to Poland and Ireland via another country. Well, my professor was a complete drunk. He left students when he was bored and tried to get us to drink all day long with him otherwise. (This may sound like fun, but it wasn’t with him. He made us feel awkward and uncomfortable. Plus, if we wanted to drink 24/7, we could have stayed home.) He made the worst remarks after visiting places such as Auschwitz (suggesting to one girl that her relatives might be there, stating the restaurant, where he tried to get us to drink with him so it wasn’t weird for him to be drinking, we visited afterwards didn’t match the German efficiency). Our professor didn’t make reservations on a big holiday (St. Patty’s, Dublin) for a huge group. He basically was a jerk and a drunk the entire time, focusing on things like the Guinness factory and not what anyone else wanted – or safety. To top it all off, he messed up in checking through from Dublin to home, so some members of the group were stuck at the airport. Considering even the newbie travelers knew to check through to final destination, this is pretty bad. To make it worse, however, he tried to go home and leave students behind, alone, in a foreign country.
    I tried to pick the worst of what happened to keep it shorter, but to be honest, it was just an awful trip due to him. (I could go on for quite some time.) I loved Poland, however, and suggest visiting.
    Even though I knew before to check out traveling peers ahead of time, I did not have an option with this guy. Also, be sure to check your reservation and bags through to the final – if you ever doubted doing so. Above all, I suggest planning ahead and being sure you can spend a full day, let alone the entire duration of a trip, with EVERYONE on the trip!

  7. As a young congressional staffer, I was leading a group of 6 college presidents to Nicaragua, because my boss was trying to establish a scholarship program for Nicaraguan students in the US, at a time when Nicaragua was run by a socialist government hostile to the US. Our flight home went from Managua to Panama to Miami, but when we arrived in Panama there were two problems: 1) US law did not allow transport between Panama and Miami at the time (drug issues) so our tickets were invalid and 2) the then ruler/dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega, had left the country and the rumor was he had left for good. The whole country was in chaos, and the airport was jammed with people trying to get out before all hell broke loose. And did I mention it was a Sunday?
    There was no hope of getting our problem dealt with at the ticket counter, so I went to a pay phone (remember those?) and called my boss’s secretary who was at home in upstate NY. She left the line open, ran to the neighbor’s house, and used their phone to call the head of the travel agency that had booked our tickets. He was moving his lawn, but went into the office and routed us to NYC while I held the line in the midst of the crowds at the airport. With confirmed reservations to NYC, we then fought our way to the counter and collected the tickets, which the horrified travel agent had actually upgraded to first class! Our battle, however, was not over.
    When we got to customs and immigration, there were no lines. There was just a solid tense mass of about 300 people standing and doing nothing, blocking our way to passport control. One of the college presidents represented St. Bonaventure University, and was a Catholic priest who had once played football. He simply put down a shoulder and plowed us a path through the crowd, to get us to the front…where we found absolutely no one in the passport booths. The officials were just standing around on the other side, doing nothing.
    Picking the most nebulous of our group, we convinced him to try walking right through to the other side, so we could see what would happen. Amazingly, he agreed to do it, and did. And about 60 seconds later, an military officer strolled up to him and whispered something in his ear. I later learned that what he’d whispered was, “You seem in a hurry, sir, but my men, they are very thirsty…” In a lightening fast move, $20 went from the president’s pocket to the officers, and our group was called forward and given the necessary passport exit stamps. We made the flight with about 10 minutes to spare. Sweating? Oh, my, yes. I started the day 24 years old, but ended it feeling about 80.

  8. I was on a work trip early in my career. I was walking out of my hotel in rural Tennessee when I heard a crack and lost my balance. Besides the embarrassment of falling into a bush in front of several folks enjoying their morning coffee, I realized that my heel had 2 inches of my 3 inch left heel had snapped off. Flustered, I hobbled to my rental car on the remaining heel and drove to the only store that was anywhere near where I needed to be for my meeting. To my dismay, all they had were flip flops, one pair of size 10.5 black heels, and off-brand Crocs. I am 5’2″ and wear a size 7, but figured the black heels were the lesser of the evils. I was forced to wear oversized heels stuffed with socks in the front so they would stay on my feet. Needless to say, I looked more like a little girl trying on mommy’s shoes than a young professional that day. The embarrassment alone was enough to make me sweat, nevermind the 90+ degree weather.

    Now, I travel with a pair of foldable ballet flats at all times – this is great for avoiding the pain of walking long distances in heels and they double up as acceptable business shoes in a pinch (e.g. broken heel scenario).

  9. Back in 2004, I was working in Gambia, West Africa and decided to take a vacation in Spain. Being the cheap bastard that I am, I bought tickets on (now defunct) Sierra National Airlines, Sierra Leone’s national airline to Gatwick and found a Easyjet flight to Spain. I had a nice flight out from Banjul to Gatwick, the flight was pleasant, actually contracted with Lithuanian Airlines. On my return trip, I flew into Gatwick and slept the night in the airport until my morning return flight to Banjul. The next morning I discovered the flight had been canceled and a new flight would be scheduled later. No details announced. After speaking with an agent for a while she admitted that the contract with Lithuanian Airlines had been canceled and they weren’t’ sure if there would be a flight. However, an hour later a new flight was announced, and it was going to route through Sierra Leone before returning through Banjul. I was alarmed at this change, as I suspected I may get stranded in Freetown, but the SNA agent reassured me the flight would return me to Banjul with no delays. Well, I should have listened to my instinct. Sure enough, we get to Freetown and everyone is told to disembark. There will be no flight to Banjul. After several hours in the airport they send us to a nearby hotel and put us up with free room and board. The first day or two I was hopeful that we might be go soon, but on the third day, I realized we weren’t going anywhere. I looked for other flights myself, but there was nothing. Sierra Leone was just recovering from an ugly civil war, and there was very little commerce happening in the country. I decided my strategy would be to make myself expensive, to try to expedite our flight. Picking the most expensive options at the hotel restaurant, late nights at the bar, buying other patrons drinks. Still, it was very lonely and boring to be stuck at a hotel waiting for a flight out. The airport is isolated from downtown Freetown by a half hour drive and one hour ferry ride. I did make it into Freetown twice, to explore the city, which was both exciting and depressing (seeing war-wounded children). After a week and a half, there was finally a plane going to Banjul. A small “chicken shuttle” prop-plane that does not meet safety standards the rest of the world abides to. Still, it was a way out and I was thankful to get back to my life.

  10. I was going to an orientation event at a college by myself when I was 17. However, for my returning flight there was a delay due to a storm in the NYC area. The delay eventually became a cancellation till the following morning. During this time, I was running out of battery on my phone since I forgot my AC adapter so contacting my parents about the situation became harder.

    Since I was a minor and there was a large convention in the IND area, no hotel/motel would take me in. The gate agent that was helping me find a motel/hotel even offered me to stay at her place and I can come to the airport the following morning with her. The offer sounded great but going to a home of a stranger that I just met is just awkward so I had to politely decline. So, she found me a cot to use in the lobby area of the terminal.

    Since I never had this happen to me and never slept in the public, I couldn’t fall asleep. To kill the time, I just played games in the arcade and walked around the empty terminal. If only, I had a video recorder like the guys at DTW 😛 then it would’ve been fun but no I did not 🙁 . Thankfully, I was in the first flight to LGA but did not receive an op-up 🙁

    Now I am thankful I am 18 years old and have a credit card. I also bring my AC adapter with me on any trip now and always make sure it is there 🙂

  11. I was flying on a regional jet from State College, PA to Philadelphia and then to Greensboro. There were high winds in Philadelphia and after our first attempt to land, it became clear that it was going to be a bumpy landing.

    After another attempt, many passengers pulled out the airsick bags. I have a pretty good stomach on planes and have never had a problem with turbulence or less than perfect landings and I had to close my eyes and will my stomach to behave.

    Finally, the pilot came on to tell us that we didn’t have enough fuel for another failed attempt and we were being redirected to Baltimore. Once we arrived there, I scrambled to rebook along with 40 or so other people who did not expect to land in a different city.

    I finally got myself to Greensboro by way of Charlotte about 8 hours late. I missed three appointments. When I got to the rental counter they offered me a car and I took it not knowing what it was (I think it was a Grand Marquis with a bench city in the front). I ended up choking back tears even though I managed my stress so well all day but I was spent. I went back to the rental counter and asked if there was anything better and wound up with a sweet Jeep Wrangler Sport for the rest of the week.

    I guess I couldn’t have done anything differently. I’m so glad I asked for a new car and won’t hesitate to do that again even if I’m in a great mood. I know that canceling appointments happens from time to time. I’m mostly just glad when I get to sleep in the bed I planned on sleeping in on a travel day.

  12. I was on a flight to the Philippines for my first deployment. My team was a group of six, so we traveled civilian aircraft. All together the trip takes about 30 hours with different stops in between. On the trip from Japan to my final destination, Manila, I was sleeping in my seat. The stewardess wheeled the cart through the isle, but as she was pouring a cup of HOT, hot coffee for my buddy next to me, we hit turbulence and she accidentally spilled the pot of hot coffee on my lap. I rush to the bathroom. Keep in mind, I am a 6’5″ male about 275 pounds. This bathroom was the TINIEST bathroom I have ever been in my life. It was damn near impossible to move since I was so large and this bathroom was designed for the small, Asian frames. In my Army career I took the trip to the Philippines once more and thankfully it was not as eventful (still the tiny bathrooms). My trip to Afghanistan in March will be on military aircraft and that will be a miserable tale in and of itself. Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. Back when I was 27, my boyfriend, two of his friends and myself decided to go to Europe for a month. We were planning on traveling as cheaply as possible, had rail passes for the whole time there and were planning on making use of hostels as much as possible.

    Well he proceeded to really piss me off, almost immediately upon landing, so the whole trip instead of being boyfriend and girlfriend, we were just unfortunate roomates.

    It was either that or I was going to have to bunk in with one or the other of his male friends because none of us could afford single rooms. So for a whole month we shared the same bed, all the while barely speaking to one another.

    I managed to have a decent trip because really who wouldn’t when you’re in Europe for the first time. But coming back and going through customs, the one thing that I had forgotten until the custom agent pulled them out of my suitcase were two very large baggies filled with my unused contraceptive sponges. Since obviously, I hadn’t needed them at all.

    So as I stood there watching him holding one in either hand, up in the air and peering at them, all thirty of them, curiously. And then looking over at me.

    I just knew that everyone in line behind me was pitying me for having such high expectations for my sex life and obviously having it fall well short.

    If I had it to do all over again, I would have thrown them away before going to the airport or left them somewhere that maybe someone could have used them, even if they were expensive.

  14. Oh, how to choose one story out of so very many….
    I travel within Zambia, an African country, frequently so there is a huge amount of stories to choose from.
    I also travel to the U.S and back every year or two.

    I think my worst travel experience though was when I tried to combine a 6 hour layover in Newark with meeting my brother for lunch. I was on my way to meet up with potential sponsors (and new friends) in Maine. My flight stopped off in Newark so I called my brother (who lived in Manhattan) and arranged for him to meet me.
    He was a bit late but we still had time to head over to another terminal for lunch. We had a wonderful meal, caught up on our lives, and then headed back to my terminal. We wanted to have every last possible moment together so I delayed going back through security as long as I could.
    The line ended up being much longer than I expected and despite running through the terminal, I missed my flight by 5 minutes.
    I was able to get a later flight but this meant my new friends were stuck in a city 6 hours from their home for an additional 6 hours.
    Not only did they have to wait, but they then had to drive through the night to get back home and since my trip was so short, less than 24 hours later they had to turn around and get me back to that distant airport.
    I have rarely been so embarrassed in my life!

    In the future I would cut short my visit or plan a better time so as to make a better impression on sponsors.

  15. Paging passenger Nicole —, please present yourself to the gate agent before the boarding area closes. Unfortunately, I was THAT passenger that day you didn’t want to as a seatmate. I calculated my travel time from home to the airport but I forgot to account for 1) rush hour traffic and 2) finding a parking spot in the off-site location and 3)taking the shuttle bus to the main terminal.

    Fortunately, I was able to check in on my iPhone, use the priority boarding lane in security, and talk my way ahead of several other passengers in the security line. I had to run from security to the next terminal and make it to my gate. Have I mentioned that I only had 10-12 minutes to accomplish this AND there was a gate change AND I acknowledge that I’m not in great shape?

    I arrive at terminal B, after getting cursed in a foreign language because I accidentally bumped into a mother and her son. I ran past the gate (gate change) and doubled back to make the LAST flight of the day on one of those regional jets.

    Then there is the walk of shame. That walk when you are the last person on the plane and everyone (except for first class) is looking at you and hoping this sweaty person is NOT their seat mate. My seat was in the last row and I was sweating profusely from the exertion, the adrenaline and just plain embarrassment.

    My secret told on me that day and I, shamefully, was the flying public’s worse nightmare.

    Lessons learned? New antiperspirant, allot more time to get to the airport, and yes, hit the gym a little more often.

  16. 19 yrs old. ultra cheap ticket from NYC to Sweden. Old bug almost dies but get it started and drove nonstop 15 hrs just kept putting gas in it. the ticket was so cheap we did not have a fixed return date so had to for a week check each day and then run and fly. What a trip!

  17. My “stickiest” trip was my move from Bremerton, WA to Houston TX. We had 3 adults, 4 children, a dog, the car, & a Uhaul truck.
    Day one, the GPS sent us through residential neighborhoods, dead end roads, and steep mountain trails in the snow. We made it to Idaho around 11pm. Found a hotel but they would not let the dog in. So the owner and her daughter got into a fight over her sleeping in the car with the dog. Screaming and yelling in the parking lot till 1am when they finally just snuck the dog in the room.

    Day 2 – half way through Utah and we ran out of cash all of our money was in money orders. On top of that, it was a holiday and no post offices were open (since it was bought at the post office no one would cash it except the post office) There we were stuck in Utah with no money. We found a rest stop to hang out and spend the night. Sleeping was not easy.

    Day 3 – We got the money orders cashed and made it all the way to New Mexico. Stayed the night sleeping at a truck stop.

    Day 4 – Made it in to Dallas/Fort Worth. Home stretch…We had hopes of making it to Houston by day light. All of a sudden…SMOKE! The car decided to go kapoot. We called in a favor from family and someone got us 2 hotel rooms for the night.

    Day 5 – Hubby did a temp fix on the car so that we could get back on the road but had to stop every hour to check his fix. We were supposed to meet the real estate agent by 4pm but we were still over an hour away and it was traffic time. If you’ve ever driven in Houston from 3-pm you’ll understand. On top of it all, the A/C in both the car and the Uhaul didn’t work. We were not used to the Texas heat yet.
    We worked it out with the agent so that we could just pick up the keys and move in that night and she came out to meet us the next morning to sign the lease.

    Net time, Cash on hand and debit card, NO Money orders! And I am never traveling cross country with so many people again. But, if we have to, we will double check our route before following the gps.

  18. I had a 5 hour delay coming from New York to Rhode Island to get to my family and go to the airport where we had another two hour delay to fly to Pakistan. On the long flight to London I was stuck at the back of the plane next to the smelly bathrooms in the middle seat and the two heavyset men on either side of me used me as a pillow. Not the best flight Ive ever had.

  19. I used to work for a company that flew me all over the states for jobs. My second time flying ever, I get stuck on a plane ran by one of the worst airlines ever. Take off was fine but when we got to my destination, the pilot decided we were going to make a quick landing and dropped from 30,00 feet to 5,000 in less than 30 seconds. Talk about your stomach in your throat. And the passenger next to me forgot his deodorant, so it was gagville the entire time.

    Then after we finally land and get to the luggage terminal, half of the passengers on the plane find out that they sent our luggage on another plane. It is the middle of June in South Dakota with 85% humidity and I had no change of clothes. Heck I couldn’t even buy a Mitchum deodorant at the terminal store because they sold out before our plane landed.

    It took the airline two days to get our luggage back to us. Talk about a stinky experience!

  20. When I was US Army, my fellow soldiers and I were on a military flight from El Salvador to Nicaragua. We had a layover in The Grand Cayman Island. It was a beautiful place with gorgeous beaches. However, I bought a candy bar from the vending machine when we landed and I got violently ill within minutes. It was the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever had. The problem, however, was that the next morning I had to get back onto that military plane and finish the flight to Nicaragua. I spent the entire flight laying on the floor of the bathroom in that old, gross, military plane. Every time the plane hit turbulence, I got sick. It was my worst experience on a plane ever!

  21. When my husband and I were newly married(read: very limited budget!) we were traveling with all our worldly goods (such as they were) to a college in Minnesota were he was going to be a student. We boarded the bus in Kentucky, and it was absolutely packed. Hubby, me and a large man we had never seen before were jammed into the small area in the back of the bus next to the restroom. After about, oh 10 hours or so of uneventful (if hot and sticky) travel, our seatmate began mumbling. I didn’t quite catch everything he said, but I did hear, “Should have killed her like I killed the other one.” He wasn’t addressing this remark to anyone in particular, just thinking out loud, I suppose. A good way to avoid finding yourself in a similar situation would be to wear earbuds and hopefully tune out all that annoying, unsolicited commentary from new traveling companions!

  22. I was flying on AA from CLT to PAP with a plane change in MIA to deliver very important papers to a young Haitian my organization was trying to bring to the USA for a life saving surgery. I was traveling the day before to deliver the sorts for the young man’s visa appointment the next day at the US Embassy. After deplaning in MIA, I realize my phone has a message on it telling me that AA had cancelled my flight to PAP and the soonest they could get me to PAP was the next day at noon (the visa appointment was at 7:30 am the next morning). I called AA but their phone system was acting weird and kept dropping my calls. I ran to the AA customer service desk only to see a line of 50 people waiting to be helped by a single agent. I saw that there was an admirals club across the way and ran inside. I plunked down my credit card and said, “I need a membership now!” They signed me up and I ran upstairs where an agent quickly helped me figure out that there was an AA flight from FLL scheduled to leave in two hours. She booked me on that flight and I ran downstairs, got a cab, and sped over to FLL where I used the priority line to make it to my plane with seconds to spare. I got the papers to Haiti on time and the young man got his US visa to travel to the States. My advice is for people who travel frequently or for important business to have a lounge pass with the airline they most frequently travel. The expedited customer service is essential for making sure you can receive the help you need when something goes wrong and you don’t have time to wait in a long line and cannot get someone helpful on the phone with you. I’ve used my lounge pass since then in similar situations, and yes, I have the sweat stains to prove it.

  23. I always ride with Southwest; they treat me well and have good prices. The last time I flew with them, I had a horrible migraine. Nauseous, the sun was killing me, etc. Horrible. And who sits behind me? A mother with two kids, who scream, kick my seat (I began to hit my seat back at them), and had the worst game I’ve ever heard. You know the sound of the dice in the Yahtzee cup? It was some metal box with a bunch of marbles that you shook up inside. On a plane. As everyone stared at this mother for letting her kids disturb everyone in a 20 foot radius. Including me, with my headache and nausea. Worst. Flight. Ever.

  24. I had a conference in Denver, and my husband tagged along. Afterwards, we were going to fly home (Day 1), arrive around noon, then unpack and repack and leave for a two-day drive to see a shuttle launch in Florida (Day 3). Oh, and this was pre-smart phones.

    Day 1: On departure day, the airline called at 5:00am: flight canceled due to freak windstorm. We called and found a flight to a larger airport 2+ hours away from our home, even though we knew we’d have to rent a car. Then the substitute flight was delayed. Then we had more delays during a layover in Chicago (the same windstorm that caused the Denver problems).

    Day 2: We landed at the sort-of-close-to-home airport around 2:00am, picked up the rental car, drove home, ripped open suitcases, flung out Colorado clothes, threw in Florida clothes, hopped back in the car, and left our house by 5:00am. We got to Orlando about 9:00pm, ate supper, found the hotel, and fell into bed before 11:00pm.

    Day 3: A little after midnight, the fire alarm went off. In the lobby, an employee said it was malfunction, no fire. We went back to our room, fell back into bed. About 30 minutes later … the fire alarm went off again. Another 30 minutes, another fire alarm. Again. And again. We stopped going down to the lobby, but the fire alarm continued to blare every 30 minutes throughout the night.

    Day 3, continued: At 8:00am, we started driving to the launch viewing site. We thought we were set: we had viewing-area entry papers, cameras, sunscreen, water bottles. But I happened to glance at the gas indicator … EMPTY! We cut off the air conditioner (in Florida! in June!), took the next exit, and coasted to a stop on a totally empty road. We started walking (in Florida! in June!), but soon someone picked us up and took us to a gas station.

    Day 3, finale: We made it to the viewing area, parked, found our friends, watched the launch. It was super. It was thrilling. It was beautiful. We couldn’t wait to get home.

    My advice? Be flexible: we were willing to go to a different airport and rent a car to get to Florida. And thoroughly familiarize yourself with your rental car, so you can check the fuel level often.

  25. Flying for a business trip to San Antonio with a connection at DFW; the plane shook violently and dropped about 50 feet, so bad that the flight attendant actually fell down. We’d just flown through the edge of what would become a tornado and shut down DFW. divert to Shreveport then to Memphis, wandering till we found an airport where we could land. 6 hours in the airport till I could white-knuckle it from MEM-SAT to find my bags were nowhere to be found, and Avis gave my rental reservation to my co-worker. Finally found a taxi, paid my $70 fare from my own pocket (work won’t reimburse cab fare if you’ve rented a car), collapsed in bed. Woke up the next morning, bags hadn’t arrived and there was no hot water for my shower. Worst trip and most unpleasant business meeting ever!!

  26. It was my first time traveling outside of the country. I was 21 and traveling the Mexican peninsula. Just me and two very attractive females. I was their male protector since they didn’t want to travel alone. Of course they didn’t tell me about the trip until the day they were busing through San Diego where I lived. I didn’t have a passport but was that going to stop me? NO!It all worked out well until day three when we are passing an immigration stop and an federale stops the bus to check id’s. I am Mexican but I was born in the US and am fifth generation so I don’t speak Spanish and the only real exposure to the culture I have is the last tradition to die in ant culture, holiday foods. I figure out a solution on the fly. The guy next to me is older and clearly a Mexican citizen. In fact he could be my Dad! So I fold my arms to cover the bright yellow UC Berkeley emblem on my shirt and remove my Ray-Ban glasses because obviously those will be dead giveaways. So I lean my head on his shoulder and pretend to sleep. Guess what, it works! The officer walked right past me. The story wouldn’t be interesting if it ended there though. Right after he passes by the guy, my “Dad” wakes up and says in Spanish, “You are leaning on my shoulder.” The cop turns around and the gig is up he wants to see my ID. Well I ruffle through my pockets and eventually tell him I can’t find the paper I must have lost them. He takes me off the bus into a little shack. My two lady friends are on the bus freaking out at this point. Luckily for me he gives me a stern warning, fills out an immigration paper for me, and sends me back to the buss with the instructions to go to the next bank I see and pay the costs. I sure got lucky and I now have passport. Sadly, my lady friends have not invited me to travel with them since.

  27. Was once in a foreign land during the middle of a major terrorist incident and the nice German guy at the airport discovered my passport had expired. That led to me being detained until the chargé d’affaires came, signed for me and took me back to the US Embassy. Got yelled at and had to postpone my trip back to the US by a couple of days until they made me a new passport.

  28. I took a group of college students to do service over spring break this past March. The whole idea is to give them an alternative activity during the traditional “spring break party” time. One of the students brought her camera and iPad along to take pictures and talk over Skype to her parents. I discouraged it to begin with because Peru, especially at the airport in Lima, had a lot of petty theft. Well the trip was great and she shared her ipad with all of her students so that they could speak to their families as well. But…on the way back we had a long flight delay and had to wait to even enter the secured area for several hours before they would open the check in gate. Low and behold someone was watching and snatched the bag with the fancy electronics. I was the only one to speak even remotely a little Spanish (we had a guide the whole time) and had to report to the police what had happened. It was terrible. The student was balling, we had to board our flight, and security had seen it all before and were none too helpful. Lesson learned: Absolutely no fancy electronics and learn how to say Help! Stop! Theif! in Spanish.

  29. Thank you for the opportunity!
    On a recent business trip to Nashville I was stuck with a very stressed out person next to me. Throughout the light he talked to himself, clenched the armrests (did not share), got up repeatly, and lastly not least he proceeded to read the ENTIRE skymall magazine out loud word for word. Needless to say that flight was very long and uncomfortable. Next time I will say something!


  30. I have selective travel memory that helps me get on that next flight. This is the situation I remember because it happened last week…

    Seatmate sits down and asks the flight attendant for “Jack on the Rocks” before takeoff – always a bad sign. She says she’s a nervous flyer and throws back her drink. I break my normal “don’t talk to the seatmate” rule and say, “Oh, don’t worry, I’m on this flight every week and nothing bad ever happens”. Famous last words… We had a delayed takeoff; circled forever; were unable to land; diverted to Cleveland; took off again; had a horribly bumpy final descent – all while she drinks Jack and switches between moaning and trying to make conversation. Three hour flight turns into six, with a 30 minute wait for a cab at 2AM to round out the night.

    This is what I get for talking to the person sitting next to me.

  31. I’d hoped to nap a bit on a flight from MSP-LAX preparation for a long week ahead of me, but it was not to be. I’d missed the upgrade and was stuck back in coach on a full plane. Two problems immediately presented themselves. The first was the passenger behind me, an otherwise normal-looking businessman who, for whatever reason, rifled through the seatback pocket the entire flight. Not a minute went by without another discomforting jolt. Even that may have been manageable, but the not-quite-identifiable odor emanating from a row or two back was not. This was the sort of odor that sneaks up on you, slowly overwhelming over time. The kind of odor you can’t quite put your finger on, can’t quite decide if it’s some sort of rancid snack or the body odor of someone carrying some odd and unknown disease.

    Perhaps the only solution here is to pack a noseplug.

  32. Worst trip was on US Air where they delayed our flight and didn’t hold our connection 3 minutes for us to catch it. We missed an out of town baptism – the whole purpose of the trip. The happy ending? After complaining for 25 minutes we got a $10 meal vouchers. Seriously. Next time I will book a longer connection or not fly US Air!

  33. My worst trip was a recent business trip. After a long week, I was flying home and I spent the first plane ride next to a man that took up one and a half seats!!! I was squished between the window and his fat rolls for the entire flight.

    To make the situation even better the flight had taken off over 1 hour late. I was told by the gate agent that I could not reschedule my connecting flight because “30 minutes is a legal connecting time”. The pilot for this flight was sitting next to me at the gate and when I asked him, he told me there was no way I could make the connection from where I landed in terminal C to my next flight in terminal E because the “connecting time” included sitting on the runway, taxing, etc.
    When we land the guy beside me sits there and wont get up. I explain my nearly impossible connection and beg to get up. He does and I run through the airport in 10 minutes and end up making my connection because my connecting plane (last of the day I could take) took off 10 minutes late.

    Needless to say I was stressed, sweaty and exhausted when I landed at my home airport, though I was thankful I didn’t have to spend the night in an airport! I could not find my car at first and ended up bursting into tears.

    Unfortunately I have to fly frequently for work and have 2 trips schedule in the next few months.

  34. Flying Pittsburgh to Philadelphia we lost an engine (fire) on takeoff.
    Pilot switched to manual for immediate return to Pit. Manual causes the plane to jerk suddenly when the pilot turns.
    Just before touchdown, with the plane swaying and me in the bulkhead in crash position, a female flight attendant screamed “OH GOD, WE’RE GONNA DIE”.
    yes she was Blonde.

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