Jen is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has worked quite a lot with phobic individuals. I asked her if she thought I would really ever get on a plane again. She said "Yeah. You don't seem to have any phobias or anxiety about it.". I didn't and I don't. I don't like it, but I don't really have any anxiety about it. She doesn't like it either, it's just a means to an end. I felt the same way about it. It sucks being cooped up in a little seat, in a tiny hot space for 10 or more hours. But it was worth it and I will do it again.
Our first flight was direct from Portland to Amsterdam. It was around 9.5 hours. Not bad at all really. International flights are far more comfortable than domestic flights. Nicer seats, wider planes. The direct flight was fantastic.
Airport security... Now this sucks. Wait in line. Pull all of your stuff out and put it in trays. Then try to put it all back. Yeesh. It's really amazing how it varies from country to country and even amongst airports. Some check points required removing your iPad, some didn't. Some allowed liquids, some didn't. Thankfully Jen had prepared me for a lot of this so we had very little trouble overall but I can see a few places that I will make changes later. Many times I found my carry on luggage bursting at the seams and filled with fiddly containers and makeshift packaging that was hard to put back together after being put asunder by a security check point. At the last check at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport before boarding our flight home I noticed that I had about 8-10 different points on my person that I had to remove items to be placed in a bin or on a belt and then reassemble in a rush while others wait. I'd rethink that next time.
Jet lag. My first time experiencing this. I found it very hard to sleep on the plane so I had little rest. We arrived at Schiphol early in the morning Amsterdam time but late in the evening Portland time. Jen was well versed in shifting her circadian rhythms and advised that we get our jet lag out of the way early so we stayed up all of the first day in Amsterdam without napping or sleeping. We stayed busy but low key and made it through the day with an early bed time (around 8pm local time). When we awoke the next day, I was so glad that we stayed up all day the day before. I had no trouble at all from that point and kept pretty regular sleep patterns the whole trip.
My first flight in 20+ years was over and I was safe and sound on foreign soil for the first time in my life.