Beijing ✈️ Detroit✈️ Knoxville = Christmas surprise for my family!
Well, a surprise trip home would not be complete without a crazy adventure to get there. Am I right?
The journey started normal, 4-5 hours early to the airport, because I am totally freaked out about missing flights. Just as they announced the boarding process, my bladder found that to be the perfect opportunity to remind me, “Oh, you’ve got somewhere to be? Right now? Time for a pee!”.
The aircraft holds roughly 300 people, so, plenty of time to release the gallon of water plus giant coffee I thought would be a good idea to drink prior to boarding. Still wondering why, I thought the Beijing airport was the place to get my life together and start drinking the daily recommended amount of water before a flight but here we are.
Now, if you have ever used an airport bathroom before, you know that the longest part of using the bathroom is not what you are there to do. It is the wedging of your body, carry-on, bathroom bag, and backpack all into a small stall. Without touching anything or allowing items to touch the toilet or wet floor. Airport germs, hard pass!
Some of us have this contortionist act down pat, we are called professional travelers.
We boarded with ease, and I met my two seat mates. A nice mother, daughter duo. As soon as I sat down, in true mom fashion, she offered me snacks ranging from traditional Chinese nuts, homemade baozi, to Chinese dates called jujube. Between being a germ freak and not my favorite snacks, I respectfully declined the handful of nuts from this generous stranger.
Naturally, she insisted her daughter to translate the nutritional properties of these sacred nuts.
We compromised; I took the nuts.
Sitting, waiting, and getting lost in conversation, the pilot announced a 45-minute delay. Super.
Que, blood pressure increase. My next layover was barely over one hour. Remember, the 4-5 hours early to the airport part? Yeah, I have never missed a flight in my entire life.
Nervously choking down my delicious, stranger snacks, I became parched. More water! Time to retrieve my water bottle from my backpack. Reached down, nothing, oh no, it is in the overhead bin and I of course, am the window seat.
Kindly asking the daughter if she could let me out, still sitting, she moved her legs approximately 1 inch to the right. Awesome. Who does not love physically crawling over their seatmates?
No problem, as a professional, I crawled over her like a grand daddy long leg. Carefully picking each leg up and oh so gracefully placing each leg over hers. All while griping the seat in front of me for dear life. Then, I reached the mom, and I confidently used my new-found Mandarin to say, “Excuse me”. Nailed it! This process was one I did not want to repeat so, it was in my best interest to gather all the items I would need.
Being the only person standing inside the airplane you can feel all the eyes on you. My thoughts were, try not to look like an idiot and be fast and efficient. Scanning the overhead bin, suitcase, check, bathroom bag, check, backpack, . . . ummm no check?!?
Tippy toes activated, moving a few pieces of luggage just a little. Trying not to mess around with other people’s luggage much. Still, no backpack!
Pondering for a few seconds, I thought, okayyy, maybe I have the wrong bin? Opened up the neighboring compartment. No backpack. So much for being fast and efficient.
Immediately I felt a wave of panic rush over me. You know the pure adrenaline rush, where your body feels light and your face becomes hotter than the hinges of hades gates? Yeah, that one.
Without hesitation, I rushed to a flight attendant.
Visibly stressed, I told him my backpack was missing. He looked at me with the straightest faces of all faces and asked “well, did you enter the aircraft with a backpack?”
Sassily, I snapped, “yes, of course I did”.
Then I thought to myself, chill, it is not his fault you are the most FORGETFUL HUMAN KNOWN TO MANKIND. ***She brought down the sass***
He then said, “well then, it cannot be far” with a sweet and calming smile he began to search all overhead containers near my seat. No backpack. Other passengers joined in on the hunt. No backpack.
Then it came to me. IT MUST BE IN THE PREBOARDING SEATING AREA!
After telling this to the flight attendant, he instructed me to go to the front and tell the flight attendant up there because he thinks the door might be closed already.
So, I ran to the front. And when I say I ran... I mean I sprinted taking out every single elbow, arm, and leg that was overflowing from the aisle sitters. The entire way, repeatedly yelling out, sorry.
As I got to the front, there were four flight attendants looking at me like I was nuttier than a 5lb fruit cake! Out of breath, I explained that I needed to go look for my backpack! Looking to my left, the door was open so, I moved to exit the plane.
That set off several yells of, “YOU CAN’T EXIT THE AIRCRAFT!” They quickly explained to me that I needed special permission from the pilot plus a security escort. While waiting for permission, one of the flight attendants (FA’s) asked me how many pieces of luggage I brought to take onto the plane. Three, I answered. Her and the other FA’s started laughing and explained they never travel with more than two for this exact reason. Apparently, it is easier to forget one when you have three. Dear baby Jesus, if I find my backpack, I will never again bring more than two!
Permission granted, security called, and before I knew it, I exited the plane. Excitedly arriving to where I was sitting, I was immediately saddened. No backpack.
Security started talking to one another (in Mandarin) on their walkie talkie’s. Said nothing to me, but rather walked me to the entrance of the bathroom and motioned for me to enter.
Standing there wondering what the heck! Why does he want me to look in here? Whatever, I will humor this and go. As soon as I turned the corner it hit me like A TON OF BRICKS, my pre-boarding professional contortionist act!
Quickly navigated my way to the stall I used only to discover a locked door. But I could see that my backpack was in the bathroom stall!! In .2 seconds, I ran out, told security, and as soon as I finished my sentence, an airport cleaner came around the corner with bathroom keys. Magic!!
She opened the bathroom stall, BAM backpack in hand! When I say I frantically grabbed for the zipper, I mean I had $2,000 in this backpack, frantic. Everything was there! Still to this day I am beyond thankful and incredibly lucky. If it were not for the flight delay this opportunity would not have existed.
As re-entered the plane, I yelled out to the FA’s, “never again will I bring three pieces of luggage!”
Clapping, they told me how lucky I was! A little embarrassing, sure, but I had my backpack! Calmly, I walked back to my seat, passing all the people I had just ran past in a mad panic. Trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
Once, I made it to my seat everyone started laughing and clapping! Again, all the eyes on me, I wanted nothing more than to crawl under a rock!
Every time something of this nature happens to me, I swear I have never been more embarrassed. This one tops the cake.
Sitting, I was rewarded with another handful of stranger snacks. She was soooo happy I found my backpack.
There were no Home Alone moves made, I did miss my connecting flight. Thankfully, I was able to fly out the very next morning!
Had my wishes came true and my flight was on time, my backpack would still be in the Beijing airport.
Yet again, I am thankful I did not get what I thought I wanted.
Kendall | Tennessee | Instagram
1. Three hours early to the airport or running to the gate? 3+ hours early
2. Pretzels or Lotus Biscoff cookies? BOTH! No shame in my game.
3. Excel planned trip or just wing it? Always just wing it!
4. Favorite continent? Asia
5. Dream destination? Germany and Zhangjiajie, China