Today, we travelled 17 hours from Glasgow to Vancouver. We woke up at 3:30 in the morning, we left for the airport at 4:30 and planned to board our first flight at 6:55am. We said our goodbyes, swapped suitcases (because mine was way heavier), and walked into the airport, our eyes tired and our heads jumbled.
When we went to check in, the woman at the desk informed us that our flight was overbooked and asked us if we were alright getting a later flight to London which would still get us on the same flight to Vancouver, allow us with a £100 refund and give us access to the executive club lounge for the next few hours which featured free breakfast, Wi-Fi and comfy seats.
Um, of course?!
So we settled into our fancy lounge with our cold pan-o-chocolates and warm fruit juice (now we know why it’s free) and we got out our laptops and settled into a 4 hour wait until our flight.
Then all of a sudden, they hadn’t overbooked the 6.55 flight and we weren’t needed to wait around for the next one and rather than being comfy and cosy in an executive club lounge, we were now on a cramped little airplane heading for London.
I don’t like flying. At all. So as soon as Ali told me we were getting the original flight, my stomach just dropped.
I had spent the entirety of the week before our trip thinking of all the possibilities as to what could happen. Whether or not our plane would nose dive into the sea, whether or not it would explode on the runway, whether or not our pilots had many flying hours, whether or not, whether or not, whether or not…
I don’t panic or cry or tremble or anything. I just sit quietly, say some prayers and deal with it. But in my head, I’m thinking about my whole life and whether it has been worth it up until this moment, you know… just in case. (conclusion: it has.)
(spoiler: our plane didn’t crash)
In Heathrow, we sat at the big floor to ceiling windows looking onto the runway and watched all the planes take off, timing how long there is between each one, fascinated that there was only a minute or so after one left that another was in the sky.
Finally, it was time to board the plane to Canada. We had waited for four hours between flights and now we had nine hours sitting on a plane.
The plane was packed. There were three sections of seats, the middle row seating four people. We were crammed in the back of the plane, near the window. Our knees pushed up against the back of the seat in front of us, our neck pillows not as comfy as we thought they’d be, and the audio on our mini tvs not working.
We sat on the runway in a queue of planes for about half an hour. I’m was panicking because none of the movies are working and I don’t know how I’m going to get through a nine hour flight without something easy to focus on.
Ali gets the attention of one of the flight attendants and informs him that our audio and visuals for the movies aren’t working.
“They’ve not been turned on yet,” he smiles.
The plane’s engine fires up, the floor rumbles, it starts shooting down the runway, I’m squeezing Ali’s hand so hard he has to pry my grip off, and my mind starts thinking of all the possibilities again. After about 10 minutes of being in the sky, I settle down a little bit and manage to start focusing on a film. I watch ‘The Longest Ride’ (which by the way, is not very good) and chill out.
Around an hour a half into the flight, they come round with hot vegetable lasagne. It’s three in the afternoon and I know it’s neither lunch nor dinner time but I decide it’s probably a good idea to eat something.
I have only a few bites and then suddenly feel my body temperature crank up a few degrees and feel myself become extremely warm. The food was roasting, the cabin was humid, and I was already nervous. I pushed my plate of food away and started waving a complimentary magazine in front of my face to cool me down.
“Ali, I need to get out,” I say. Everyone has just been given their food and it would be shambles for me to try and get out the seat especially since I was at the window. He says we’ll wait until they come back around and take the food away. I sit back and think about other things and pray I won’t be sick but I start to feel like the small bites I’ve taken are about to… well, make an appearance. I give myself a few moments and turn to Ali again.
“Ali, I really need to get out. Now.” I say.
He looks at me and goes “You’re green.”
And after that, I don’t remember anything.
Ali tells me that he got me out the seat, I walked down the aisle in front of him, sat on the emergency exit and then went into the bathroom. When I went into the bathroom, I didn’t shut the door and he watched me fall against the wall, begin to shake and start to crumble to the floor. Ali caught me underneath the arms, brought me to the floor, and yelled for help. Only the back four rows of the plane turned around, his voice muffled by the sound of the engine, but when the flight attendants must have seen eight assistance buttons light up, they must have known something was wrong.
Apparently when Ali called for help, I told him that I was alright (which I clearly wasn’t) but that stopped him from worrying a little too much. Previously, he thought I was dying. I must have been blacked out for about 90 seconds and when I came to I had people around me telling me to ‘stay alert’, ‘stay awake’, ‘look into my eyes’, while a woman lay me flat on my back, held my legs up at a 45 degree angle and a man put an oxygen mask over my face. I just felt like falling asleep but Ali kept speaking to me and asking me to stay awake. I just looked at the three people around me, wondering what in the world was going on. The man folded a bit of paper into a fan and started waving cool air into my face, telling me that I was going to be alright, that I was getting my colour back. Ali made jokes about if I wanted him to feed me grapes since I had everything else at my service. I didn’t even have the energy to laugh.
I started to catch my breath, feel a lot less warm and relax a little. But I think when you wake up and you’re on the floor at the back of an airplane with an oxygen mask on you’re going to be a little freaked out. The man got me some ice and put it at the back of my neck and asked me some questions about my health while mixing together some sugar and water for me to drink. I lay on the floor for about half an hour or so just breathing tanked oxygen, my feet up on Ali’s knees, the staff coming and checking on me every few minutes, telling me ‘Don’t worry, this happens on every flight’ and Ali just keeping me alert and chatting. Then when everyone had agreed I was okay and it was just me and Ali, I asked him what happened, which was when I got all this story. I honestly do not remember walking down the aisle to the bathroom, trying to sit on the emergency exit or going into the cubicle. I could hear Ali calling for help which is why I managed to tell him I was fine but then next thing I remember was someone putting on oxygen mask on me.
The staff on the flight were so so lovely, very patient and understanding and I am so grateful that them and Ali were all first aid trained and there to help me out. I have never fainted before nor have I had any heat or claustrophobia issues on a flight. They let me sit on my own individual seat at the back of the plane for as long as I needed to. Soon enough, I didn’t need the oxygen anymore, I downed these disgusting little cups of sugary water and managed to feel better. They let people go back to use the bathroom as well so anyone that came back wanted to know the story, ask how I was, see if there was anything they could do and when they found out I was okay, we chatted about where they were going on holiday, what brought them to Canada, and heard about their own stories of passing out.
One lady came over and gave me a nut and fruit mix which I could see Ali eyeing up the whole flight and then caught him rummaging through my bag later to find it while I “wasn’t looking”.
But it’s a story to tell and I am 100% safe and okay. I am so glad I fainted rather than was sick. And I sort of said as a joke, ‘let’s take a selfie’ about half an hour after it happened and then Ali whips out his phone and we take a photo. Which is fun to send to people with literally no caption. Mwahaha.
We still had another 6 hours to go when I was finally okay enough to sit back in my seat. I didn’t feel good enough to watch another movie, despite the woman sitting in front of me who waded her way through FOUR movies. So I just kind of sat and dozed, I watched a couple episodes of Friends, thought about passing out: every time I looked over at Ali he would pretend to be passing out to make fun of me, people would smile at me as they walked down the aisle as acknowledgement that they appreciated I was still alive and we waited for touch down.
When we got to the airport, I started to feel weird again so I left Ali in customs and used my USA passport to get through in about 30 seconds. (sorry) I got both our bags and then just sat feeling weak, gross, and light headed. About 40 minutes later, Ali came through and we were on our way…
We are so excited for this trip and already have loads of stories to tell, things to laugh about and places we know we need to visit. We are staying with family here and they are so welcoming, warm and understanding and I can’t wait to get to know them better and hang out with them and everyone else we are going to meet.