Watch your feet!

I love a red shoe! Glancing down at my feet and seeing that bright cheery color makes me smile!  My closet contains several pairs so when the mood strikes, I have an adequate variety to choose from: patent leather, sneakers, sandals, and a very special pair of Italian leather purchased in Rome, which I love love love! The shoes, that is. And, Rome, too!

But those lovely little crimson gems seldom make the cut for space a packing. The contents of the suitcase of Lady Cat 6 are akin to pieces of an intricate puzzle, where each item fits together just-so. This is how a trip to Italy, for two plus months, can be fit into one small carry-on bag weighing less than 30 lbs. Truly, this is the ONLY way such a trip can be managed with such a small amount of luggage. I digress. We will discuss packing in another post. For now, it’s sufficient to know that the strict two pairs of shoes rule (one – the clunky old lady walking shoes with the orthotics inside on the feet, one – a lightweight pair of sandals or crushable flats for fancy dinner attire, in the suitcase) is sacrosanct! Part B of said rule states that item of clothing in the case must go with everything else, so red shoes just don’t qualify.

Quite recently, though, a very small, very quick one-week trip was on the agenda. Several items normally slated to go into the bag for an extended foreign trip were not needed this time, and there was a small gap in the suitcase puzzle just perfectly sized and shaped for my beloved Italian slip-ons. In they went! With all the extra space available (!) in the suitcase, I could always buy something to wear them with if nothing already packed would work.

The next morning at the McChord passenger terminal, things were looking fine for the few people who had shown up and marked themselves present for a C 17 ride to Dover, DE. Oh, happy day!

Roll call began. We were chosen, and had just lined up to put our bags through the x-ray machine when a piercing cry of disappointment rent the terminal! A lovely woman stood, distraught, in tears. Looking her up and down, my gaze became riveted on her feet. Oh, no! She was wearing SANDALS! She had failed to note the restriction against high-heeled, open-toed, or “five-toed style” footwear aboard AMC cargo aircraft! She had no other footwear packed, her sponsor was wearing the only shoes HE had packed, and all seemed lost. Unlike earplugs, which terminal reps and aircrews hand out like candy, there is no ready supply of closed toe shoes to dispense. The couple had driven hours, only to be denied boarding because of prohibited footwear (and failing to properly prepare).

Suddenly, I remembered my precious little Roman shoes, nestled in the suitcase. Inquiring about the woman’s size, it was happily discovered that we were a match. The shoes were tried, and found acceptable, and the sandals were packed away in the woman’s suitcase until flight’s end. Lucky!

After deplaning at Dover, the shoes were returned and safely fitted back into their spot in the suitcase. It turned out I never did wear them that week: the weather was hot, there was no time for clothes shopping, I needed the walking shoes for chasing little people around playgrounds, and my sandals sufficed for dinner wear. But, there were 3 happy travelers who were sure glad I brought them!

Remember: when flying space a on a cargo aircraft (C-5, C-17, C-130), no open toe footwear (or high heels, or five-toe style)! SHOES, and shirts, of course, required.

4 thoughts on “Watch your feet!

  1. My wife was in a situation very close to this, although it was her that needed the shoes. It was our first Space A flight since I retired and we didn’t even think about it. Luckily we had befriended a couple from Guam and the lady wore the same shoe size (or close enough) as my wife. A problem was that her bags had already been checked through. Well the AMC personnel being the cool people they are, got her bag from the back and we retrieved the shoes. At the next stop, Yokota, I stopped by the PX to get my wife another pair of shoes and she returned the others. I guess I did good, because she now packs those shoes for every Space A flight. It just goes to show what a little kindness and cooperation can do for folks. Happy travels everyone.


  2. How kind of you! Many people would not even consider offering help, especially when considering their favorite shoes. A fun reminder for all of us newbie travelers!


  3. We were close to boarding (flying out of Jackson MS) when I realized that I had not changed out of my flip flops. Luckily, the Jackson personnel had not yet taken our bags to the plane. They took me to the back room where our luggage was and let me get my traveling shoes. Now I make sure to have my traveling shoes on when we get to the terminal!


  4. I have just packed for a 3-4 month trip to Europe! All in one small suitcase too. I have packed some red flats, so I feel ya sistah! My hubby has warned me a zillion times about the shoes- so the tennies are ready for the plane.
    Great story though- I’ll bet you are that ladies new best friend.


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