This was by far the most exhausting travel I’ve completed so far. It took me about 20 hours involving 3 different flights and what felt like miles of navigating through airports.
I started out in New Orleans, LA where I currently live Uptown in the Freret neighborhood. I scheduled an Uber to take me to the airport and left my place around 4:30am to catch a 6:05am flight from MSY to JFK. This put me getting to the airport an hour before my flight which was my first mistake.
The airport was completely packed and to top it off since I was flying international I couldn’t simply checkin on the kiosk. I only had a backpack and small suitcase so I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about the long checkin line since I wasn’t checking any luggage. Wrong. I had to wait in line, and from that line I could see the security line on the other end of the airport backed all the way up to the front of the airport.
At this point I knew I was gonna start my trip off by missing my first flight. Which would have been a major set back, but miraculously that’s not how things played out.
I get to the checkin counter for JetBlue Airlines and the lady is like, “You are gonna miss your flight Sir.” I looked at her like damn tell me something I don’t know Susan. She then said, “I’m gonna get you through.” So she stamped my ticket priority business and I was able to completely skip the security line and go straight through the metal detectors. Once I passed through security I hauled ass to the my gate and jumped on the plane.
New Orleans (MSY) to New York (JFK)
The flight from New Orleans (MSY) to New York (JFK) went by pretty fast. Once I got to JFK, I was under the impression that my almost 3 hour layover was gonna be chill. Wrong. It was complete chaos all over again! JetBlue’s gate is completely across the airport, and to put that into prospective it was a million miles away from where I was at.
So the journey through JFK begins. The mission was simple. Get to the Turkish Airline gate in Terminal One before boarding ends. I had my Johnston and Murphy’s laced pretty tight so I was prepared to do about 70mph on foot through that airport if need be.
So I needed to take the Skytrain to Terminal One and I was moving pretty fast zipping by on those moving sidewalks. You can really cover some ground on those things so I figured I saved at least 15 mins so far so I could stop at Starbucks and get some race fuel for the rest of the hike. Hot Carmel Moc with Almond Milk. Literally took all of my 15 mins I thought I was up so I was back on the move at high speed.
Found the Skytrain and rode it all the way to the other side of JFK to Terminal One. Hopped off and had a solid hour and thirty left until boarding. I knew for sure I was in the clear.
Wrong! I had to checkin again with Turkish Airline even thought I already had boarding passes for the flight before from when I checked in with JetBlue Airlines back in New Orleans. Line was long ass hell of course and to top it off I had to check my suitcase for the flight because you are only allowed to bring carryons under a certain weight. So boom, checked in and checked my suitcase and got new boarding passes.
With now 40 mins left on the clock until my flight boarded I’m hauling ass so I can grab a snack since I finished my coffee with an empty stomach and I was shaking like a tweaker.
So, I hit the corner down the terminal past all the checkin counters and what do you know. I gotta go through security again. Line was longer than a Chic Fil A drive through during lunch time. At that moment I lost all hope on making the flight and was seconded guessing if my addiction to coffee was the real reason I was gonna miss this flight. I mean it was only 15 mins but that could be all I needed to make this flight. The Caramel Macchiato was delicious though, but that’s besides the point.
So I’m in line and you better believe paint dries faster than the rate of speed it was moving. I had my ticket in hand trying to see if it had some type of priority stamp to skip the line but I it was just on my ticket out of NOLA. I dropped my passport messing with that ticket, bent down to grab it and looked up. There was a Turkish Airline flight attendant standing in front me. The lady saw my ticket with the Turkish Airline logo and said, “Turkish Airline?” with an accent. I was like, yeah! She said, “Come with me.” I was like no damn way, I must be on a hidden camera show or something. Where the hell is Ashton? Seriously though.
I got to skip the line and zip through security again. It was me and about 5 other people who were about to miss their flight just like me. We got through and made the flight. I’m not sure if this happens a lot, but I can tell you now I’ve missed a few flights in my life and never did this happen in those situations.
During the boarding process I was able to get my blood pressure back down to normal and relax. I had a ten hour flight ahead of me so I already had plans to sleep all this stress off.
I got lucky again with a seat in the emergency exit row for this long flight so somehow luck was just spilling over my way. I had leg room for days.
New York (JFK) to Instanbul (IST)
My flight from New York (JFK) to Instanbul (IST) which is in Turkey wasn’t bad at all. Long but there was nothing to complain about. Also a fun fact. Instanbul (IST) is now the new headquarters for Turkish Airlines. They recently moved there from the capital city where the airline was founded. Cool fact because it was one of the biggest coropation moves in history. With months of planning it was actually accomplished in almost no time. In fact they completed the move way faster than they anticipated. If you read up on the details about the move and what all was actually moved you will understand the significance of how much was involved to make it happed and what it means for future aviation transportation on an international level.
Once I got to Istanbul (IST) everything was pretty chill. No rushing and no crowds. Very nice terminal by the way. It was a connection flight with the same airline so it was a breeze thankfully.
Istanbul (IST) to Cairo (CAI)
I board the flight stress free and find my seat. Isle seat just like the last two flights and there was barely anyone on the flight, including my row. I was thinking to myself this flight is gonna be so nice to Cairo, Egypt. I can lay across my row and slide down to the window seat to see the city from above and grab a few photos.
With five minutes left before they close the door a group of about six men get on the plane and my seat area was wide open so I was like damn I know they are coming my way. I was like cool, I can’t complain because shit was just working out to good for me that day.
Without surprise two men walked right up to my row ready to slide in. The first guy mumbled something in another language I didn’t understand but I got the hint. I was like, say less you got it buddy.
So I was gonna get up and let the first guy get in, but he insisted on squeezing in front me. Cool no problem lets make it happen. He slides by and I was like damn ole boy must have had a long day traveling since he smelled overdue for a little soap and water. But I was like man, he probably just having a bad day. Let me leave it alone. I mean he smelled but it wasn’t gonna kill me.
Spoke to damn soon, that’s all I could say. His buddy is now ready to squeeze his ass past me. He proceeds. I turn my legs side ways and he is working his way in. Now odd thing is he tries to make this happen facing me. I’m like damn cuz this is a little odd, since most people hug the back of the seat and slide in that way.
So now he is completely in front of me facing me and that’s when reality hit me right in my God damn nose. This dude smelled like a high school locker room. Straight pits. The smell was flat out disrespectful. All jokes aside the smell had my eyes watering.
The smell literally punch me in the face. GOD DAMN, the words just flew out my mouth. You could have heard pen drop for a solid ten seconds. Got quiet for a min, but ole boy was used to the smell and thought maybe he stepped on my shoe and said sorry. I said to myself, nah brah sorry ain’t fixing this smell I gotta get a new seat.
At this point they are preparing to get this plane down the runway so flagging a flight attended down to request a move wasn’t an option. So I had to try and ration the air supply in my shirt that I had pulled over my face. The only problem was I had on a button up so the smell was trying to bust it’s way in like Jehovah Witness at your door on a Saturday afternoon.
I was stuck. By the time we got up to cruising altitude I was barely hanging on to life. The first flight attended that walked past caught a hit of that smell and it stopped him in mid stride. That’s when I jumped up like my seat was on fire. I was like look man I gotta move and he was still paralyzed by the smell and mumbled, no problem sir.
I grabbed my shit and sat as far back away from that odor as possible. Once the smoke was clear I just zoned out until we landed in Cairo, Egypt.
Moral of the story, pack light. Get to the airport as early as possible. Especially for international flights. Preplanning your way around different airports is crucial when time is a crunch. It could have easily helped me on this journey.
Check out my next post for more on this trip to Cairo.