We woke up at 6 AM. Our bags were mostly packed, so we just had to finish stuffing our final things away before we headed out the door. Our wonderful host was waiting for us in the driveway and she shuttled us off to the airport for our 7:55 flight from Split, Croatia to Munich. Just like when we left 26 days ago, we weren’t allowed to check in online for some dumb reason, so when we arrived at the airport we checked in. We were also informed that we could only check in for the first flight at that time, and would have to check in again for our connecting flights once we arrived in Munich.
An easy hour and a half later we arrived in Munich and made our way to the Lufthansa service desk to check in for our 12:00 flight from Munich to Los Angeles. We were once again informed that once we landed in LAX we would have to re-check in to get our final boarding passes. Apparently convenience isn’t a priority for international traveling anymore. Well we whiled away our 2-ish hour layover easily enough. We both bought airplane headphone adapters, not wanting to have to use the crappy ones they provide like we did on the way over here. We then glanced through bookstores and ate paninis before boarding the real monster flight: twelve hours from Munich to LA.
I was surprised to find that this plane was actually smaller than the one we had flown in on, despite the flight time being longer. But as we boarded the plane my confusion was put to rest. It may have been smaller, but it was definitely newer. The in-flight entertainment system was definitely higher quality, and once we were in the air we found that it had like five times more options available. This was a good thing, because we had realized that to beat the inevitable jet-lag, the best thing we could do is stay awake as much as possible, because we wouldn’t arrive home til close to midnight, and if we could just crash in bed that would be the best thing possible. Oh, and these newer entertainment systems also had normal headphone jacks, so we totally wasted our money on those adapters. Oh well.
Sam was seated next to the left aisle and I was in the middle, with another 20-something-year-old girl on the right-aisle side. As the plane took off, there were the expected bumps of turbulence that make your stomach dance around, and the girl next to me started flipping out. Hardcore hyperventilating. She noticed us looking at her and apologized, saying she wasn’t a good flyer. I tried consoling her by saying that the turbulence was normal when flying through clouds, as we had been. “Oh, I know,” she said. “I fly all the time. I’m just terrified of it.”
So I decided to just let her be, because she obviously had a handle on her fear. Sam and I settled into the entertainment system, and after a movie or two I fell asleep for about 3 hours. Sam never fell asleep (no surprise there). One cool thing about this newer plane that I’d never seen before was that the bathrooms were actually all downstairs. I’ve been in planes with special first-class seats upstairs, but this plane had all the seats on one level, only the bathrooms were downstairs. Oh, and this airplane had way more “class” groupings than necessary, including first class, business plus class, business class, economy plus class, economy class, and algebra class.
So the flight was pretty good. Except that we were three rows from the back of the plane, which is apparently where they stick all the people with yippy little lap dogs. There were two that I could see from my seat, one right across the aisle from Sam and one exactly in front of her. I’m not sure which one it was, but one of the dogs was a worse flyer than the girl seated next to me, because at least the girl could control her gasps and outbursts. One of these dogs would go on yapping fits every thirty minutes or so. Honestly, sorry to all the people who take dogs on planes, but I don’t think they should be allowed. Even the newlywed couple in front of us were able to keep their baby (who I overheard the mother say was actively teething, by the way) quiet for almost the entire flight. But dogs? Not so much. I love them, and I want to get one the minute I have a house of my own, but please, leave the dogs with the luggage.
Well three movies and two sub-par airline meals later we landed in LAX. Typically I don’t mind being in the back of a plane, except in two cases: if you have a very short layover for a connecting flight (like we did on the way to Europe, when we were also in the back row) or if you have to go through customs. Luckily LAX has gotten pretty good at controlling the crowds, with 40 nifty little customs-kiosks that get the initial paperwork ready so that you basically only have to hand the printed receipt to the agent at the desk before continuing. There was a minor wait, but nothing horrendous like it used to be. Then we had to walk to our connecting gate, which made me very confused about why an airport as massive as LAX doesn’t have a better transit/shuttle system in place, because it was like a twenty minute walk.
At this point we had about a 5 hour layover, which originally I was upset about, but it was actually nice after such a long flight to be able to stretch out and walk around for that long before getting back on an airplane. Since calls didn’t cost 20 cents per minute anymore, I called my family and talked to them about how great the trip was. I then called my grandparents, who were looking after my car while I was gone. I was expecting to just take a cab to their house and was going to ask them to leave my keys under the matt or something, but being the amazing people they are they insisted they come pick us up, even though our flight would get in way past their bed-times.
When we finally boarded our final flight from LAX to Salt Lake City, Sam and I were both exhausted. I fell asleep before the plane even took off, and even Sam, who is notoriously bad at not being able to sleep anywhere but in a real bed, got a few minutes of shut-eye. It was a good thing too, because once we landed and my fabulously loving grandparents picked us up, I had to drive Sam and I the 45 minutes back to Provo. Thanks to that little one-hour power nap on the plane we made it totally fine. I got to see some of my friends, who were, naturally, all awake and playing games when we arrived at midnight. Looks like I’ll be getting into the college life schedule pretty fast again. It’s good to be back.