A London bound Qantas plane was forced to shut down an engine and return to Bangkok last week (find the BBC article here), after vibration and high temperatures were noticed by the pilots. It got me thinking about flights and how lucky I have been with all my jet-setting.

I’ve never had a problem with flying. Over the past two years I must have been on roughly twenty flights and other than the slight nerves of ‘I’ve been on so many flights, the odds of this one going down are pretty high,’ its been relatively trauma-free. No lightning strikes, no emergency landing, no birds sucked into the engines, no malfunction with the oxygen masks causing them to spontaneously drop down on me. Generally nothing to make me hysterically scream and trample an air stewardess in a bolt for the emergency exit.

photo by Lisa Garner

But the odds of being travel sick are pretty high, and that’s a clue for my worst flight. My experience wasn’t a nail biting, fainting or literally life endangering, but it was horrendous all the same. I didn’t think there would be any issue with it, as it was a short domestic flight from Brisbane to Melbourne, but as usual, travelling requires one to expect the unexpected.

We had ventured up to Brisbane for the small festival, ‘Sunset Sounds’, which was held in the Botanical Gardens. Great setting and a lovely idea of music at sunset… we touched down to sheer torrential rain which did not stop for one second. Yup, we had arrived just as the bad rains had begun which led to the mass devastating flooding of Queensland in January 2011.

We hit the festival in anoraks and ridiculously flimsy canvas sneakers, and watched bands while ankle-deep in floodwaters. I must have eaten something dodgy for brunch though as 9pm rolled around and I suddenly felt dreadful! I had to bail on the last act (sorry Paul Kelly) and had nine hours straight of vomiting and 48 hours being bed-bound.

We had to get our flight home so I dragged my sorry carcass out of bed and tried to get to the plane staying as horizontal as I could. Once on the plane I could relax and try to nap, then the descending for landing began. Serious bad times. The pilot had to abort landing three times due to wind change and thanks to the roller-coaster of dipping and diving, I broke into cold sweats and began clinging to the walls. I was soon reaching for the complimentary sick bag and my boyfriend. This fun attempt at landing continued for a solid twenty minutes where I aged fifteen years, but finally we touched down.

It comforted me when the stewardess announced for all sick bags to be left at the front, at least I wasn’t the only one you threw up! It was less of a comfort to queue with my bag and see that I was the only one in the line who was above the age of twelve.


Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane