I'm alive. And I made it to Vegas.
Because I only had 12"x14"x16" of space to pack without being charged for luggage, I began creating a packing list on Monday night for my Wednesday afternoon flight. I started with essentials: my phone/charger and my Chi. And I continued my list in descending order of importance with underwear and toothbrush high on the list and an extra pair of flats and my camera low on the list. My plan was to pack in order of the list to ensure that the high priority items made it in while more expendable items could potentially be left behind. Through a combination of tightly compressed Ziploc bags and meticulously rolled clothing, I fit everything on my list into my 7"x10"x12" duffel, including my 7"x4"x6" camera bag. (I was not taking any chances with their luggage policy). To be fair, I should note that I was visiting all three of my sisters, so I would have plenty of access to things like shampoo and blow dryers.
With nothing but my duffel in hand and with my license and boarding pass in my back pocket, I walked into the airport. (Btw, it's a good thing I printed my boarding pass at home because it would have been $5 to print it at the Spirit desk and $2 at a kiosk.) Flying doesn't make me nervous. And aside from tiring me out, traveling doesn't phase me much. But I was nervous as I got in line at security. Nervous that within the past 45 minutes Spirit airlines had changed their baggage policy. Nervous that the gate my plane was supposed to depart from didn't actually exist. And nervous that I was never going to make it to Vegas.
I quickly went through security and made it to gate D2 (which does exist!), and sat down to observe the other people flying Spirit Airlines. I began feeling better about things. The person at the gate desk announced that the flight would be delayed thirty minutes, but I mostly expected this. It was kind of a nice reassurance that my flight was cheap for a reason but that reason wasn't that I was going to be pushed out of the plane while flying over Oregon. So I got comfortable in my seat, put on an episode of Downton Abbey on my iPod, and waited to board the plane.
As they called for Zone 3 boarding, a final wave of nervousness passed over me. Would I, in fact, be able to walk onto the plane without paying a dime for this small carry on? I patted the sides of my bag to make it look as slim as possible, picked it up by the handles, fished my boarding pass out of my back pocket, and slowly inched my way forward in line. I felt like I was trying to trick them. Like at any moment someone was going to turn a burning red strobe light on me and bellow "You really thought we were going to let anyone take anything on this plane for free?" Maniacal laugh. I handed my boarding pass to the employee. She took it. Smiled. And said "enjoy your flight." I breathed a sigh of relief.
I found my seat in 21E (a middle seat, of course), and settled down next to a genial/saucy woman reading a Hum 105 packet and an older woman reading Revelations. By "settled" I mostly mean that I squeezed my way into my seat in unnatural angles, shoved (with great force) my carry on under the seat, and nestled my knees against the seat in front of me. Yes, my knees hit the seat in front of me. I am 5'5". But aside from not being able to move more than 2" in any direction for two hours, and getting pitched a credit card offer, and almost throwing up multiple times during the landing, I'd call the flight a huge success.
And I get to do it all again Tuesday morning.