Paradise lay on the other side of a treacherous flight schedule. We’d reserved our tickets months earlier in order to join friends for an engagement party and use frequent flier miles. Procrastination led to taking what we could get and initially we were relieved to finally secure reservations. Once we got underway, the reality of our flight schedule hit hard.
First Leg – Leave home after dinner on Friday. Check in two hours before a 9:30pm flight which was luckily on time (late day flights often suffer from schedule squeeze due to series of late departures)
Second Leg – Arrive at LAX and sit for nearly two hours. Flight to Dallas leaves on schedule right after midnight.
Third Leg – Fly for three hours, corkscrewed into seats, napping between flight announcements, lights going on and off, and crying babies. Just before landing, I splashed water on my face and used Supersmile, swirling a few drops of mouth freshener that’s become a staple when I can’t get to my toothbrush.
Fourth Leg – Arrive Dallas at 5:15am and wander the airport trying to decide what’s best.
- Do we try to sleep on the floor or a chair in one of the vast airports nearly deserted lounges, suffering through lights, announcements and mind-numbing music?
- Talk ourselves into an Airline Club Lounge. At this juncture, not being premier customers, we’d have to pay $50 each and then again face marginally more comfortable chairs to snooze in.
- Attached to the airport is a Hyatt hotel. While you have to leave the airport proper and return through security, a reduced day rate is available, provided there’s room. For less than the AA Club Lounge, we were able to sleep for nearly four hours in a minimalists dream – cool grey décor and luxurious beds. Our room had a spacious bathroom where two sleepy heads could bump along into a tub or separate shower stall before toddling down to the lobby for complimentary coffee. As Goldilocks would say, ‘This one’s just right.’
The security gate was next door and the fresh TSA agents were even good humored at the beginning of their shifts. We got through with time to enjoy a healthy, protein rich breakfast and board feeling sleepy but human. I shudder to think what the other scenarios could have led to.
Seriously, if I had to arrange another 5+ hour layover, I’d book that hotel ahead of time and saunter through the airport with confidence and ease.
Fifth Leg – The captain just announced that Cozumel is twenty minutes away. I’ve napped, read through the Hyatt’s complimentary Wall Street Journal and sipped delicious juice. On the horizon waits a dreamy, fun reunion; diving for days and a visit to the World Heritage site of Chichen Itza. The flight schedule was grueling but considering that American Airlines just filed for bankruptcy protection, we’re grateful to have lowered our reservoir of frequent flier points and are no worse for wear.
Elaine J Masters, Travel writer and co-host of San Diego Travel Massive. Get where you’re going feeling great. Travel ease products at www.DrivetimeYoga.com