Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I was bumped in Denver and all I got was this lousy t-shirt...

A few months ago, I bought an airplane ticket to go to Chicago for Christmas. My father and grandmother live there and my two sisters were planning on being there for the holidays. I paid for the ticket online via United's website. I paid with my credit card. I got a confirmation number stating that I had bought my ticket.

On Monday morning, I got an email from United Airlines - stating that I was now free to check in. I checked in online 23 hours before my flight took off. United Airlines gave me four chances to upgrade my seat...but since I had already paid almost $600 for my seat, I didn't really want to pay more money. Four times, I clicked the button that indicated that I'd keep my plain ol' seat.

When I clicked through and printed what should have been my boarding pass, I saw that it was actually a travel document, not a boarding pass. I called the 800 number and was assured I had a seat.

Tuesday morning, I checked in at the airport over two hours before my flight was to take off and asked the agent about the travel document labeling. "Oh!", she said. "That happens all the time. They'll assign you a seat at the gate."

I went to the gate and immediately stood in line hoping that the agent would assign me a seat.

They did not ever assign me a seat.

Turns out, you can be "involuntarily denied boarding" because the airline oversells seats. They needed 15 people to be willing to take later flights in order for me to board the flight. They only got 12.

We were told that they would try to get us out that day, but they couldn't make any promises. Since I only had 3 full days with my family planned, losing a whole day and night did not exactly make my day.

In the end, after raising my voice and explaining my needs to the agent, the supervisor, and eventually the director, I (and two other people that were also "involuntarily denied boarding") got seats on the next flight out and the promise of a round trip ticket for free.

I'm not proud of the way that I acted towards the agent, the supervisor, and the director. I was so mad at the time. I still think it's absurd that you can BUY a ticket, you can check-in 24 hours early, you can show up at the airport early and you can do everything right and you STILL don't get what you were promised.

For the past 15 years, ever since I starting taking flights by myself, the airport meant frozen yogurt, chips, candy, greasy fast food, and anything else I could think to indulge in. Somehow I'd convinced myself that diets didn't matter in the airport. Doesn't everyone know it's so hard to eat healthfully in the airport? So then, why even try? High fat and calorie food choices are everywhere in airports. Everyone eats it, so who am I to be different? Traveling is the perfect excuse to eat whatever I want - a built in alibi.

The thing is, after I got a new boarding pass, I realized I was hungry. My sensible breakfast in the morning (one I'll share in a later post) had worn off as it was now 5 hours later. I had (smartly, I think) sliced apples at home and put lime juice on them to keep them from turning brown. I had the slices in a baggie, but I knew that wasn't going to hold me another 4 hours.

I could've decided that that morning had been hard enough and that I DESERVED to treat myself. I was still pissed that I was in that situation. I was mad that I was inconvenienced. I was sad that I wouldn't get to see my sisters until much later. I was worried that my dad was going to get mad at me for being late. I was sad that I wasn't going to see my grandma at all that day...she has dementia and who knows how many more visits I have left to see her? I was disappointed with how I acted towards the agents. Just because they were poopy heads doesn't mean that I had to stoop to their level. I wanted sugar, I wanted the lift of simple carbs. I wanted to just feel better. I could've decided to eat my emotions.

OR I could've taken the time (and boy did I have a bunch of it!) to find a healthy alternative even if it was in another terminal.

And, that, my friends, is exactly what I did.

I ended up going to Itza Wrap/Itza Bowl and had a few bites of brown rice, veggies, and chicken. It wasn't delicious. It wasn't soothing. But it was the healthiest option I had at the time. It wasn't a decision I made out of emotion.

As I sat at the table and stared down at my food, I realized that for the first time in my adult life, I actually ate something healthy ON PURPOSE at the airport.

And that's when it hit me... Airports aren't kind to diets. But I'm not on a diet. My new way of living involves me forgiving myself for some bad choices that I make involving how I treat other people. My new way of living doesn't involve me soothing myself with food. My new way of living allows me to treat my body with respect and to honor it by giving it the fuel it needs.

I'm not perfect. Even though I've had this "new way of living" as a mindset for many months, I don't follow this approach all of the time. But I did THIS time. And this moment, right now, is what matters.

I know that the agents didn't mean to be crappy to the passengers of my flight. I know that they were stressed. I know that getting bumped from a flight sucks, but it wasn't THAT big of a deal. Sometimes bad luck just happens.

It's like that adage - if the problem isn't hunger, the solution isn't food. Eating crappily wouldn't have changed my situation, so why do it? Why fill my body with foods that would make it feel more sluggish and possibly have made my headache at the time worse?

I changed a habit on Tuesday morning...and THAT is worth way more than a round trip ticket any day.


Kris said...

yes, you won! Good job and great choices. I have been working on asking myself, 'am I hungry'. and if I do not know I guess I am not. I do know what hunger feels like, so if I am not feeling it I must be feeling sad, mad, alone ect. It is those feelings that I need to look at in a deeper way....
Take care of you! You are doing great!

Lyn said...

That is a great little victory right there. You did wonderfully. And you know, 2010 is OUR year, BOTH of us. We are going to be so freaking healthy :)

(and under 200 pounds!)

Kellie said...

YAY YOU!! Airports definitely aren't diet-friendly or even health-friendly for that matter! I am so glad that you found a great healthy choice and didn't give in to the stress triggers!