11 Things that Suck about Transatlantic Flights

An airplane on the tarmac at Shannon Airport in Ireland
An airplane on the tarmac at Shannon Airport in Ireland

I just arrived in Shannon, Ireland about an hour ago. This trip is an epic 10 day roadtrip around Southwest Ireland with one of my best friends. I could not be more excited about hanging out with her around some of the most beautiful places in the world.

And yet…no matter how many times you fly east across that big blue ocean, it always sucks.  Since I’m sitting at an airport cafe waiting for my friend’s plane to get in, I figured I take this time to document all the ways that transatlantic flights wreck me.

(Obvioulsy I’m very #blessed to be on this trip, yada yada yada #firstworldproblems blah blah).

  1. What Effing Time is It? It’s impossible not to feel like a night zombie when the sun says 10 am and your internal clock thinks it’s 3 or 4 or 5 in the morning.  My phone says mid-morning, but my eye sockets say I should be mid-REM cycle. Why is the world so bright?!?
  2. No part of my face feels normal. My eyes are dry, my nose is cold, my head hurts like a mild hangover (which it isn’t because I only had one drink in the last 24 hours), my ears hurt from falling asleep wearing earbuds, and my neck hurts from sleeping upright. I think my eyebrows even hurt…that’s a thing, right?
  3. I have plane knee. Plane knee is the pain you get from your knee crashing into or resting on the seat in front of you for hours. Not a big problem for a three hour journey, but super annoying after 8 or so hours.
  4. I am so bloated and gassy. What is it about not sleeping that makes my internal organs take on air and extra water like the Titanic? Caffeine makes it worse.
  5. My bra and underwear feel awful. Sure, I could change them at the airport. But I don’t becuase I’m a cranky monster right now. But my underwire is cutting into me and underwear just doesn’t feel good after this many hours in a row. I want my pjs, please.
  6. My body has no interest in regulating temperature. I was burning up five minutes ago. Now I’m freezing to death. Ugh.
  7. Everyone in this airport is cuter than me right now. Seriously, I feel like I look like a night terror, how are these flight attendants perfectly coiffed after back to back trips while wearing 3 inch heels? Did they attend a 1940’s beauty school before taking this job?
  8. I’m at least two to three hours away from my bed. I am not one of those lucky lucies that bounce right up after a transatlantic flight to go adventuring. When I get off a plane, I want my bed. IMMEDIATELY. However, between my plane seat and my bed, I have to traverse customs, baggage claim, and ground transportation. I have to meet friends. I have to eat something that’s not plane food. And when I finally do crawl beneath my sheets, I almost always get a jolt of energy. Eff that. I need a rest day when I change this many time zones, and I am not ashamed.
  9. People are Chatty MFers Cab drivers, seat mates, everyone around me seems to be missing the scowl on my face that screams “Sleep Deprived American who Would Rather eat a bug than Make Small Talk Right Now.” Fellow travellers want to discuss destinations, starting points. Cab drivers want to chit chat to pass the time. I want sleep or death.
  10. The first sleep is unsatisfying and disorienting. Great, I finally get to nap. Now my body will put me in a sleep so deep Sleeping Beauty would be jealous and then jolt me awake at random, disorienting intervals. Fantastic.
  11. I’m wide awake and well rested, finally, and now this foreign country thinks it should be nighttime. Great.

So as you can see, there’s a reason I personally don’t book a single activity on my first day in Europe (with the exception of something late at night, but that’s not ideal). I need twenty-four hours to get the grog monster out of my system. Then I’m happy as a clam and ready to explore whatever new destination I’m in. But please for the love of sod, leave me alone on my first day.

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