Flight review: Roundtrip to LIR

It’s time to get back to some travel talk. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I want to maintain the goal of writing at least two travel-related articles per month. Our Costa Rica vacation in February 2020 was a wonderful respite. Although the virus was on our radar, we were fortunate that the trip landed just a few weeks before the novel coronavirus took over our global attention. I already wrote about how this trip was a solid travel hack.

As part of our travel hack, we met with a friend and frequent traveling companion to fly out of his local airport. Our friend lives in another nearby midwestern state. We flew Delta to Liberia with a connection in Atlanta. It is difficult to find a nonstop flight from the midwest to Liberia. Because our friend covered the cost of the tickets, we traveled to his preferred airport. We made the four hour drive to our friend’s home after leaving work the evening before our flight. 

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6 a.m. on a Friday, which meant that our wake up alarm sounded at 3:30 a.m. We parked at the airport and took a shuttle to the terminal. The TSA checkpoint did not open until some time after we arrived, so there was a considerable line of people already waiting. This is a frustrating aspect of early morning flights. I wish that airports would publish the opening time for TSA checkpoints because arriving at the terminal the recommended two hours before our flight was entirely unnecessary.  

We arrived at our gate with plenty of time to spare and I was even able to get some work done. The boarding process went smoothly and our flight to Atlanta was uneventful. As the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta is always a bit of an adventure. We had a relatively short connection, but enough time to stop by our favorite Paschal’s to grab a chicken biscuit for breakfast. Paschal’s is a must-stop for us whenever we fly through ATL.

From Atlanta, our flight to Liberia was just under four hours. We love to fly Delta because of the amenities like in-flight entertainment and refreshments. Mr. Vine is a big fan of the Biscoff cookies. As is my habit, I’d packed a bag of snacks for us to enjoy during the trip. These snacks were actually leftover from a gift we’d received on our recent ski weekend getaway. Soon we looked out the windows and saw mountainous terrain rising from the ocean as we made our descent into Liberia.

In Liberia we deplaned onto the tarmac and had a short walk to the terminal. That’s often my favorite way to land for a tropical vacation. The equatorial sun blinding me and making me forget why I needed to wear so many layers a few hours earlier. As soon as we cleared customs and perused duty free, we looked for our rental car pickup. Collecting our rental car turned out to be a major hassle, but that’s the topic of a future post. Once we had the car, we drove a short distance to a hotel near the airport where we’d spend our first night. The days in between were idyllic and pleasant with postcard-perfect weather. All too soon, it was time to return home.

Unfortunately, the flights home were some of the worst I’ve ever experienced. That’s not the fault of the airline. A big line of storms was crossing the southern US on the day of our return and tornadoes had caused damage to some airports. This caused a significant amount of turbulence during the final hours of our flight. I suffer from airsickness on occasion so it was no surprise that the turbulence was rough on me. During the flight I’d watched Pandemic, which I enjoyed, but maybe reading the subtitles contributed to my illness. In any event, hearing the news that we’d be stuck in a holding pattern for a bit was not good news. 

We landed in Atlanta and I needed to find a restroom right away. This proved surprisingly difficult. We were also trying to move towards a Skyclub to settle in for our hours long layover. Hustling through the airport where it felt too warm carrying my bag was not helpful. We finally found a restroom then checked into the Skyclub, which was also crowded and noisy. I sipped soda water and ginger ale to try to settle my airsickness. I felt too unwell to eat anything. Flights were delayed and canceled. Our own connecting flight was delayed. At that time, I asked Mr. Vine if perhaps there was an earlier flight we could catch. Luckily, his conversation with the gate agent at the Skyclub was fruitful and we were ticketed for an earlier flight. That meant we needed to hurry to the gate right away. 

 My stomach still unsettled, I got sick again right after we left the Skyclub. I can tell you that feeling nauseated while waiting in a bathroom line at that world’s busiest airport is not an experience I want to repeat. Getting on another plane, to be followed by a four hour drive, also sounded very unappealing. 

The second leg was not as bad as the first, if only because it was much shorter. I also spied an airsick bag while we were boarding and picked it up just in case. Thank goodness I didn’t need to use it. I kept my eyes closed and tried to nap. When we landed, I nibbled on some sliced apples that we’d packed from our hotel that morning. Then it was time to get in the car for the final leg of our journey. The cherry on top was that the rain further south was turning to snow in the midwest. 

Mr. Vine is a true champion and safely drove us home. I didn’t enjoy the drive much but we made it home without incident. When we arrived at our house, I was so happy to be still and not moving anymore!

Do you get airsick? What are your tips for coping? Tell me about your unpleasant flight experiences!

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