Nadia’s Travelblog: PMSing During International Travel

Air travel is hard enough without PMS.

PMS, for the remaining few of you who do not know or have been fortunate enough not to experience it first or second hand, is a monthly condition that afflicts women all over the world and that causes their brains to swell. This swelling of the brain can put the best of us in the worst of moods, to say the least. Of course, PMS – premenstrual syndrome – causes other things to happen to a woman as well, but in this particular woman, it is the swelling of the brain that is the main cause for distress; for her and for anyone within a 5 km radius.

I write to you from an airplane headed from Salt Lake City, Utah to Paris, France and with my knees crammed against a deceased leather chair. I will remain in this position for 11 hours. My swollen brain is throbbing and I’m displeased to announce that I am well on my way to a full-blown case of PMS.

As I entered the plane on my previous flight five hours ago (I have three flights on this trip from San Diego, CA to Cairo, Egypt), I watched the male flight attendant place the carry-on bags of the two passengers that preceded me into a compartment right next to the airplane door. When my turn came he told me I’d have to check-in my carry-on all the way to Cairo. There’s no room for my carry-on anywhere on the plane, he told me. But I have three flights and I need my carry-on, I protested. Do not ask me exactly WHY I needed it. I just did. What if I decide to buy something at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris during my six hour transit, for example (this is usually inevitable)? Where would I put it? My carry-on also contained my computer – larger than my purse. I can’t allow my computer to be placed in a piece of luggage that will be mishandled while being thrown into and out of the belly of three airplanes and finally onto the creaky conveyor belt of Cairo Airport. And it is beyond logic to expect me to carry my computer in my arms during three flights and two transits. So I NEEDED my carry-on!

I explained to the flight attendant that I’m traveling to Cairo, and surely either one of the nice gentlemen who entered the plane ahead of me would be willing to check-in their carry-on in order to allow me to keep mine on the plane. Surely they had closer destinations than I did! The mean man, the very mean, mean man, refused that I even ask their permission. When I protested yet again, he asked me to step out of the plane. TO STEP OUT OF THE PLANE!
I went back along the armway (that tunnel thing must have a name, but I don’t know it) to the counter that allows us to board the plane. On my way there, I bumped into the pilot who asked me if I had a problem. My eyes swelling with tears (possibly ooze seeping out of my swollen brain) and my voice choked, I tried my best to contain myself as I explained that I had a very long trip ahead of me: “I’m flying to Cairo and the attendant wouldn’t allow me to take my carry-on with me!” The pilot tried to calmly explain that the flight is full and that if all the over-head compartments are full with luggage it’s only normal that I be asked to check-in my carry-on. “But I’m flying to Cairo!” I repeated, clearly struggling to keep the brain ooze in my eyes rather than rolling down my face.

So the pilot, the very nice and compassionate pilot, took me back to the plane and stepped inside while I waited outside. Clearly he did not want a case of a woman’s brain ooze staining his plane’s floors. After a few short minutes he came back and took my carry-on from me. He had made space for me in one of the over-head compartments. I could have hugged him. I literally felt that he had saved my life and if my swollen brain hadn’t had a shred of sanity left in it I probably would have thanked him for saving it.

I’m now on my second flight on my way to Cairo. I think I would have preferred riding a camel (the animal that comes to mind at the moment) all the way there rather than take Delta Airlines again.

I do not understand why they do not have enough room in their overhead compartments for all passengers. I have never seen this happen on other airlines. This is the second time I’ve been on a Delta flight where I’ve had to struggle to get space for my carry-on.

I also REALLY do not like their leather seats. They can get quite cold. As I first sat down, my seat was so cold I thought it was wet at first.

On internal flights inside the US, you actually have to buy the headsets if you want “in-flight entertainment”. BUY THE HEADSETS! Who buys crappy headsets for US $3? And where is the in-flight entertainment? Not on a screen on the back of the seat in front of you, where it very well should be. It’s on screens on the airplane walls and ceilings as was the case in the olden ages. The result is that I have a choice between stretching my neck upwards and to the right to watch the movie on the screen one meter almost exactly above my head or watching the upper half of the screen on the wall a few seats in front of me while the lower half of the screen is occupied by the over-puffed-up blonde hair of the woman in seat 17B. I also don’t get to choose between a wide array of movies, television series, games, and the likes. Who flies nowadays without having that sort of choice? What has gone wrong with the Americans??

Another thing that annoys me tremendously is the fact that I can’t check-in online because my reservations were made with Air France. Delta is the US partner of Air France and takes over its internal flights within the US. Air France, you gotta reconsider your partners, dudes!

As I prepare to leave you, I spread the airplane blanket over my legs to get me some much needed shut-eye. I’m pretty sure it’s made out of recycled (and previously used) medical gauze.

As you can see, I’m very annoyed, distressed, and outraged. No one should have to travel this way.

And when ON EARTH is someone going to find a REAL solution for PMS??

Disclaimer: the above post does not necessarily represent the views of this blog, Inner Workings of My Mind, and its owner, Nadia El-Awady.

Nadia’s Travelblog: Off to San Diego

I should have started a travelblog long ago. I do so much of it and every now and then there’s something worth saying – or not and I’m just so bored while traveling that I could at least entertain myself by blogging mindless doodles.

I’m on my way today to San Diego. The trip will take around 30 hours to make with the air time and transits. That’s if I actually catch all my planes. I’m told I have a 15-minute transit in Atlanta, Georgia. Doesn’t make sense that they even booked that flight for me, does it? And I’m told the Americans have become extra vigilant at security checks these days. So I’ll have to go through passport control AND stringent airport security and get to my gate all in 15 minutes. That’s assuming we actually arrive on time.

People we meet

This morning at Cairo Airport I met the cutest little girl. She was quietly sitting next to the wall while we were all standing in line waiting to go through passport control. Her daddy was standing in front of me. The little girl appeared to be about 3 or 4 years old and she had a scarf tightly wrapped around her head. I was wondering why her head was wrapped like that. I thought maybe her mother wanted to make sure she was warm. But then she came and spoke to her daddy and gave her back to me. From the back of the scarf I could clearly see her head was completely hairless. I looked closer at her face. She was pale and had dark circles under her eyes. She had cancer. The little girl had the cutest high-pitched 4-year-old voice you’ll ever here. I asked her where she was going and her daddy told me she was going to Mecca to perform the lesser pilgrimage – Umra. This was also her first airplane ride! She looked so excited – and tired at the same time. I told her how much fun it is to see the clouds from above instead of from below. Her daddy told me she was scared. She really didn’t look it. I told her she’ll have a wonderful time and that seeing the Kaaba will be amazing.

It’s interesting how people put their faith in God above all else in times of need. I’ve been asking my tweople and my facebook friends to pray for her. I’ll ask you all as well to send her your prayers or your positive energy, whichever you prefer.

Nadia goes on an(other) ego trip

In recent years I’ve traveled so often it’s sort of ridiculous. But that has finally paid off. I’m the very proud owner of a Gold Air France frequent flyer card. This card pulls me up the social ladder about two rungs. I now get to stand in the business class lines at check-in – always shorter than other lines – and I get to spend transit times in the business lounges. Today I got a FREE lunch and I’m blogging using my FREE Internet connection. If you’ve traveled as much as I have, you’ll know how precious all this is. I feel so special. I really do.

Travel lessons

Travel brings down your shame levels as much as frequent flier cards bring up your social status (in my mind anyway). Today I was lucky enough to have the seat next to me empty. I simply put my head and upper torso on one chair and my feet and lower body on the other and fell fast asleep. I do the same – or did – in airport lounges. I could care less what I look like or how inappropriate it might be (in some cultures).

I’ve also decided to travel comfortably. I have this theory that I’m now investigating that spending too much time in jeans gives me headaches. It also makes me nauseous on long flights. So this 41-year-old woman is dresssed today in a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and sneakers. Yes she is! And I’m actually quite comfortable and no headache – yet.

Finally, I’ve attempted to travel light this time. For a 9 day trip I only have one pair of jeans, two blouses, and one pair of hiking pants plus shirt. I do not have any shoes with me other than the sneakers on my feet. The most serious of circumstances brings me to this desperate situation. I have shopping to do in San Diego. So I’m definitely coming back heavy. We’ll have to see how this works out. And don’t you dare look at me that way! It’s a small miracle that I’m going at least one way with hardly any clothes in my suitcase! Appreciate the fact!

My one hour of free Internet connection is about to end. Since I do not yet know if it is renewable I’ll have to stop here. But expect many more travelblogs from me! I could practically travelblog for a living!