My First Time on an Airplane

It pays to go big the first time

Keara Lou
Keara Lou
Oct 15 · 3 min read
Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

I’m a lot like my dad. When I do something something for the first time, I do it big. First time performing a song? Doing it in front of the whole school! First time trying new food? Going to get the biggest portion of it! Either I’ll eat it all or puke it up later! We’ll see!

So when the time came to study abroad in college, I was excited. Not only was it going to be my first time out of the country, but it was going to be my first time on a plane.

Preparing for the flight

In 2009, I took the opportunity to study abroad in China for the year. I was with about seven other students, and we had multiple meetings about what to expect in China. I was the only person there that’d never been on a plane. For me, it was a lot of tips on what to do on the plane.

They gave me every tip I could think of. Everything from finding noise-canceling headphones to making sure I got up and walked every once in a while.

The week before the flight, my grandma stopped by my mom’s house and handed me a bag of drugs to help me relax. A big, white shopping bag full of Dramamine and random medicines she thought I’d need in China.

On the day of the flight, my mom, stepdad, grandparents, and I drive to Detroit Metro airport. My grandma took some yarn and tied it around the handles of my suitcase to make sure I knew which luggage was mine.

There was a bar open at 8 A.M., and my mom and I had a quick drink before I checked in my luggage.

Then I checked in my luggage and went through security. My first flight was beginning.

The flight

My flight went from Detroit, to Washington-Dulles, to Beijing. The first trip from Detroit to Washington-Dullas, my carry-on had to be taken to the cargo. The plane was so thin, my carry-on couldn’t be in the cabin with me.

When we landed in Washington-Dulles, I had to grab my bag and run. I had half an hour between landing and boarding the next plane. A shuttle grabbed me and took me to the gate. There was still a little bit of a line, but I was one of the last people to make it.

It wasn’t until I was on the next flight I realized I forgot the drugs at home. I thought I had them in my carry-on.

I planned to take a Dramamine during the longest flight so I wouldn’t feel so nervous. The worst it’d make me do was sleep. I didn’t want to get drunk on the plane, and I hadn’t learned the power of books on a flight yet.

Crap. Now what?

I don’t know if it was the girl sitting next to me, or if it was my brain realizing where I was. My inner voice started talking.

Keara, what the hell are you thinking? This is your first time on a plane! Look out the window! Enjoy it!

I don’t like to sit still. I’m the type that always has to be moving. I’ll either pace around my house or tap my foot or do something. I hate being still. I was the same way on the plane.

Every half an hour, I got up from my seat and walked around the plane. I talked with the flight attendants and took pictures of the view through the window. This was before phones with cameras were regular, so it looked funny watching me walk around with a camera taking pictures.

When the plane landed, I walked out, satisfied. I walked out confident that my year in China was going to be a good one.


This story is published in Writers on the Run. If you’re interested in submitting your travel stories please visit our submission guidelines.

For those who love to travel, live for travel, and always have a story to tell.

Keara Lou

Written by

Keara Lou

Writers On The Run
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