[seat]mates or [soul]mates
First things first, a warning: don't ever have a layover at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (code: MSY). Just don't. Or you will be eating Subway with everyone else in Terminal B, as it is the only legit food option available. I'm not exaggerating. Avoid this scenario at all costs.
Now for the story you came to read:
Ninety-nine percent of the time I fly Southwest Airlines. As a girl who consistently over-packs, not paying for luggage is clutch. I also love choosing my seat as I board the plane. There are 137 options! I've heard numerous people gripe and complain about this system. Sassy cats, I'm here to say it's very simple: pick your favorite seat and sit. The end. (Unless you didn't check-in exactly - like to the second - 24 hours prior to your flight. Then there is a pretty good chance you're sitting in the middle. #SnoozeYouLose)
Poor middle seat. It always gets overlooked and hated on. It has it's perks...okay, no not really. But if a cute guy strikes up a conversation just as you are beginning to board, you better believe no middle seat is safe from me. And a few weeks ago, this almost became a real life situation. Thankfully, fate and the seat gods spared me.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning. I actually can't remember the last time I had so much fun flying. (And that is saying something, because you all know how I feel about planes.) Allow me to explain why:
DC ---> San Diego: Uneventful and filled with the Real Housewives and Diet Coke. About halfway through the flight I had a sassy idea. I wandered up to the flight attendant and asked if cockpit tours were still allowed, specifically once we landed. She said, "Sure! Just come up as your de-boarding." So I did. Best 15 minutes I've spent on a plane. Ever.
San Diego ---> DC: I almost missed my flight. I arrived at the airport at 12:20, my flight left at 12:50. No big deal. As my friend said, "I like the confidence, Christina. I wouldn't travel this way, but I admire the confidence." Thankfully, I breezed through security, but I did miss my boarding group. Bummer. Demoted to Group B. I chose a window seat that was available in the back of the plane. I typically go for the forward part of the aircraft, but at this point I wasn't in a position to complain. Besides, this choice meant I got to squeeze past a handsome gentleman already sitting in the aisle. Score.
I know this is longer than usual, but it's about to get good...
I had a brief "maybe for once I'll strike up a conversation while sitting on the plane" thought. That was until the announcement of a completely full flight was made. "Or not."
To save time, we will skip over the not-so-pleasant details of a middle seatmate who was less than spatially aware, another delightful Subway dinner, and - as an extra special treat - a connecting flight that was delayed.
A two and a half hour layover later, I finally wandered over to my gate and got in line to board. Who sauntered up and stood across from me....that handsome aisle sitting seatmate, that's who. We do the, "hey you were on my last flight" smile. And the next thing I know, he has commented on our delayed flight as well as the amazing food choices MSY has to offer (jokes). Three sentences in, and I already liked where this was going.
His boarding number was somewhere between A 1-30, and I was A 42. As 1-30 began to board he said, "I'll see you out there." An invitation?! I wasn't entirely sure, but I wasn't about to waste the opportunity. It was officially time to create a strategic game plan. I asked the gate agent if it was a full flight. Affirmative. At that point I accepted the fact that I would be middle seat sitting. But if it meant sitting next to him...fuck elbow room.
I can only pray that you are finally understanding the amazingness that is flying Southwest and the power of seat CHOICE...
His choice was the aisle seat towards the back of the plane. Nearly the same - if not the same - seat he had the previous flight. EPIC. As everyone else clamored for seats in the front, I walked straight to the back. (This man clearly travels frequently and has a game plan of his own. Kudos sir, kudos.) "Is this seat the best kept secret?!" I asked. "Always plenty of room back here," was his response. My choice was the aisle seat directly across from his. #spared
I sat, and for the next two hours we didn't stop talking. I learned his name was Jeremy. That he lives in Washington, DC. (Yes.) He is from Minnesota. (We will let that one slide.) He is a lawyer. (Perfect.) Tall, dark, and handsome. (Check, check, and check.) Easy flowing, fun conversation. (Ummm, is this real life?!)
Half way through the flight I start to panic. "Is he participating in the conversation as much as I am, or am I forcing things? No, he is definitely asking follow up questions and perpetuating discussions. He must be single. No guy in a relationship would bother putting in this much effort. On a flight nonetheless." Okay, phew.
We are beginning our decent and the topic of missing flights comes up. I explained my little too close, close call, and Jeremy shares his own mishap from a few days before. He was running late and while going through security one of his buckets flipped over. His driver's license fell into the machinery, and since he was cutting it close, there was no time to figure out whether or not the ID could be retrieved. Lucky for him, his girlfriend was able to overnight his passport.
Girlfriend. I'm sorry what. WHYYYYYY, Jeremy. Why?!
It was like the clock from Cinderella stroked midnight. My fancy carriage turned into a pumpkin, and my noble steeds into mice. Ugh. After my casual recovery of "She is definitely a keeper." I bitterly angled my body forward and pouted. Thank god I wasn't sitting in the middle seat. Sneaky Midwestern manners.
So my seatmate didn't turn out to be my soulmate. (Rats.) But the flight served as a reminder that life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey. Be open. Take chances. Go for the middle seat. That's the beauty of this whole "no assigned seat" thing, it's your choice.
These photos were captured at a little slice of heaven known as Gravelly Point. Many thanks to Hannah Walczuk (Hannah Elise Photography) for so perfectly capturing this adventure!