Most of my travel travails have been at the hands of Airlines!! I am sure we have all experienced an airline induced trauma at an airport, and if you have not, I am SURE you will at some point. Airlines are the WORST and it always seems as if they are working against you instead of for you. Their regulations are vague and when you call customer service they are even vaguer. For some reason, the same airlines at different airports have different rules and that does not make sense, especially when they think your bag is a carry-on one way and make you pay to get it checked on the way back (>$70!!!).
By far the worst experience I have had in traveling was on my way back from my Study Abroad summer semester in Paris on a morning flight to Newark Airport. By this point, it was late July and I had been abroad since January save for a 5 day period where I went home between the spring and summer semesters. I was ready to be home and relax after two fairly hard semesters but this airline was not about to let that happen. After having boarded the plane, we were told that we could not move forward without a small piece that was missing from the dashboard in the cockpit. This sounded like a legitimate concern that should keep us from taking off, until they described the item later on as being a transparent cap for a small button on the dashboard. Some time later, we were directed to get off the plane and wait in the gate where they would provide us with lunch. I do not know if they planned this, but lunch was pretty bad! At this point, I am trying my best to be flexible and understanding while maintaining a positive attitude but as things get worse my mood declines. A few hours later, we are told that no one was able to find any matching parts and they would be able to obtain one from a plane coming into the airport from London, but the flight arrived too late for us to be able to take off afterwards. We all had to go pick up our luggage and go through immigration again to get out of the gate and get in line at the airline’s counter to receive dinner and hotel vouchers: we were going to have to stay the night.
Standing in all of those lines took another few hours and by the time I was able to have dinner it was 8 PM and I was so tired I ate my free meal with little enthusiasm and proceeded to get lost finding my hotel. Once I lugged two suitcases around to the check in desk, I address the dilemma I had been having all day: I do not have a phone charger. I was able to preserve my battery throughout the day and found other ways to entertain myself but recognized that the rest of the journey would be hard without my phone, so I turned it off to be able to keep in contact with my parents in the morning, watched a movie in my room, and prepared to wake up at 5 AM to try to board my new 8 AM flight.
The morning brought an erroneous 3 AM wake up call instead of my requested 5:45 AM call but I made up for it by stealing bread in a cloth napkin from the complementary breakfast and a cool pencil that I still use today. After the trauma of going through this experience all alone and half a world away from my home, I now value the many vacations I would take with my big family and the ways in which we kept each other entertained at all times.