I started worrying over our flight to Greece a full 18 months before it happened. The husband has severe food allergies to sesame. Let’s fly to Greece – where they love some sesame. It is scary to even go to some Greek restaurants because of the chance of contamination. Add in the fact that I have still not recovered from That Man once blindly eating a cracker over the middle of the Atlantic without first reading the ingredients and I was concerned.
A few months before we left I realized that we were flying Ohio to Chicago to Frankfurt to Athens and it was mostly on Luftansa. I immediately felt better. The Germans were going to be in charge. That’s not a phrase that has always inspired hope but in this case it did. The Germans aren’t known for throwing around hummus willy-nilly.
I packed a lot of food in my carry on. I convinced the husband that we were going to eat our packed food. That isn’t always easy. He’s been known to decide that he has the right to safe meals on flights and he gets pissy if that isn’t guaranteed. This time he was convinced that the airlines don’t care about him one iota and he needed to be prepared himself. I also had enough food for me because I ask for vegetarian meals which contain hummus often so I wouldn’t be able to eat that around him.
There is a commercial running right now about being at an airport. It makes fun of a woman for packing snacks. I yell at that commercial a lot because obviously the writers don’t travel with food allergies. Not gonna lie, we do most of the things in this commercial.
We get on the long flight from Chicago to Germany and I was in a middle seat. We had requested seats across the aisle from each other so we wouldn’t be squished for hours on end. That didn’t happen. The plane wasn’t all the way full though so we asked really nice and they let me move to another seat.
The nice thing was that when they moved me I was in a whole other section. I couldn’t even see him. You’d think that would be worrisome. The exact opposite happened. As soon as I couldn’t see him, he was out of my control. He had to not die all by himself. I was watching movies. He did not die. We didn’t even eat any of the food we packed.
On the way back I still had all the food. Again, we got on the long leg of the flight and I was squished in a middle seat. The plane configuration was 2 seats – 3 seats – 2 seats. We were in the 3. The 2 to the left were empty. People were eyeing them like hungry lions looking at a zebra. When we were allowed to move, he pounced. He got the aisle and another lady got the window. I slid over to the aisle. Much happiness ensued.
The lady he was now sitting by turned out to be an American engineer living in Germany. She is married to an Australian. They were having separate Christmases due to the trouble traveling internationally. Yes, he finds out everything about everyone. She was also a vegan. She had brought her on food. She was concocting full meals in her seat. Luckily no hummus. When the plane food was passed out he kindly offered to eat her share. I grabbed what was on offer and it was greasy. Like grease leaking out of the wrappers greasy. I started reading ingredients. They were disgusting. I didn’t see any sesame but the ingredients were in German. He asked his new buddy to read the ingredients to make sure because of course he had already found out that she was fluent. She read it and said it was allergen-safe but she wasn’t sure he should eat it. Poor guy had women on either side of him policing his food now. Seriously, though, 3 of the first 5 ingredients were nasty fats. He would have spent the whole flight in the bathroom. We ate the packed food.
At this point though we were just happy to be on a flight. We were gone November 30 to December 10. On December 6 the rules for entry into the United States changed. Luckily we were with a cruise company. I’m a die hard independent traveller but this saved us. I don’t know that I would have realized that the rules changed if we were on our own. They went from needing to have a PCR test 72 hours before departure (which we easily had with daily testing on the ship) to needing a negative PCR within 24 hours. If we had still been on the ship that would have been ok but we had an extension on land in Rome. Viking Cruises hired a nurse to come 24 hours before we were leaving to test everyone on the extension. We had to cancel a tour we had scheduled to be there at the right time. It was touch and go to see if the tests would be done before our 5 am bus ride to the airport. We got them back sometime around midnight.
Seriously, though, I understand the reasoning behind the requirement but that standard is a bit nuts. You can’t get a 24 hour turn around on a PCR test in the U.S. My pre-trip test took 58 hours. Sick people now are taking up to a week. Sure, make people find a test in a foreign country that can happen that quickly. We thought about doing an independent trip this summer. One of the reasons it isn’t going to happen is the stress of trying to find testing to get back. Guess we’ll be hanging out in the States for a while.