Friday, October 17, 2008

Traveling in Packs

We were recently in Southern Illinois for a wedding but flew in/out of Chicago.
Ok. so our flight back to Portland from Chicago was something else!

Checking in.
First of all, we were dropped off at US Airways (the flight, US Airways as operated by United). So we had to walk to a different terminal to check in. We get there and the line is just LONG. Oh well, we cant change that. We get up to the counter and its a computer check in so there is 2 people behind the counter for 12 check in computers - basically their job is to pull the baggage check tags and place them on the luggage. The "itinary number" from expedia is not registering as a confirmation number on the kiask, so on the screen it says, if you need help, pick up the phone next to you. Craig picks up the phone, and we are both thinking that it will alert one of the two people that we need more help than a computer can provide. NO. It rings some man that is probabally in India to help check us in. This person finally gets Craig checked in, and he says, well, my wife and son are here too. Do I need to call back to get them boarding passes?? And, why does it say Im only going to Las Vegas? (You see, Vegas was just suppose to be a layover where we switched planes.) The person on the other line tells Craig that the ticket was booked as a flight to Vegas and they could not help us with the rest of our flight, oh, and by the way, we would have to go get our baggage and go back and check it once we were in Vegas. I was like...NO, we CANT do that, we dont have time to do that (we had an hour layover). The person was not helpful. I was immediatly tryinig to simultaneously call US Airways and flag down one of the two people behind the United Kiasks. A woman finally came over and, WHEW. She said she thinks that she made it so our bags were checked all the way through to Portland (well, I wasnt taking any chances with the car seat and since we have this carrier that has wheels on the bottom for pulling, OR you can wear it like a backpack, I opted to gate check the car seat....JUST IN CASE our luggage didnt make it to Portland). "And how would you like to pay for the checked luggage?," she asked. We had just paid in the computerized Kiask - those things are suppose to be time efficient?? We didnt have to pay again, thank goodness. So now we had our boarding passes and were off to security with 45 minutes now before our plane was to depart.

Security, another issue.
I happened to have a jar of peanut butter that we were using for Jack when he would eat nothing else, or we didnt have time to feed him and the rest of the adults could easily skip a meal. That set off a very small (in the scheme of things) delay. "Whos bag is this?? We need to go through it" Ok, I thought, and remembered the peanutbutter. They of course pull out the jar and the woman begins consulting with another TWA official. I see her pointing at Jack and saying to him, well, she has a child. The man is adamant...NO. He says to me, "Do you need this?" So I said, well, yes. "Why?" Well, for him (Jack). "Does he NEED it?" Well, yes, to have something to eat (b/c I am NOT paying $5 for a snack box of a few ritz crackers). So Im like, whatever, its fine, Ill just spread some on a piece of bread for him. "We will have to escort you out and you will have to check back in through security." I then remember that I have some small jelly packets in my backpack and say, its fine, toss it. Then they start saying "Well, is it medically necessary?" No, I say, its fine, just toss it. They two TWA's look at each other, the woman with a sympathetic look in her eye at her male partner, and then he says, "Ma'am, next time you CANNOT bring this on board." I was just like, ok....all that. And thank you.

Whew. the plane ride.
We have NEVER been "those people" on a plane where you cannot control your child. Well, guess what, we were. We were seated in a window & middle seat. Were lucky b/c Jack is still a lap child, so there was one poor soul on the isle next to Craig. Jack screamed, cried, hollared, arched his back, kicked, jumped, hit, slapped, hollared, etc. for an hour and a half. This leg of our plane ride was 3 hours. He was SO tired, and man, apparently we have this kid on a schedule. He will not fall asleep in your arms. He needs to be alone, spread out, in his own bed. I felt so bad for him. He was MISERABLE!! And so was everyone around us!! There was a guy in front of us who just kept glaring back. And Im thinking, I cant do anything about this. Believe me, I would if I could. Jack ended up catching a second wind and was then just slap happy and a completely different kid, playing peek a boo, laughing, sitting still. Whew.

The layover.
Our plane was late getting into Vegas, and I knew we had to change planes so I immediatly ask the guy when you get off the plane what gate we need to go to. Remember, we were on a United flight - even though it was booked through US Airways. This guy has NO CLUE. We wander a little bit, and I see the time. THIRTY MINUTES UNTIL OUR PLANE LEAVES....this means boarding is NOW. We ask a person at a different gate. She tells us that US Airways is in a different terminal. She directs us down and around to catch the shuttle train, to get off at one location and we will have to exit security and re-enter. Did I say our flight was to depart in 30 minutes?? Trying to beat the clock, we find the train, luckily, it was just arriving. We hop on, whew, we are going to make our flight...AND, that lady didnt know WHAT she was talking about! We never left security!! Woo-hoo!! We get off the train and we are still "IN" the airport, in terminal C. YES!! wait....what are all those signs that say terminal A/B is through the exit?? No, could it truly be? We now have 15 minutes before our flight is to depart. We are standing at an exit while TWA is trying to usher us through. Craig says, "Is there ANY POSSIBLE way to get to A/B without exiting security??" And of course, (b/c it will help), I chime in "our flight was late getting in and our connection leaves in less than 20 minutes." Ahhhh....the gods are looking upon us. We are told about a (we called it secrete) way. It was "through C21 gate." The other TWA guys said, "Your going to have them go to C21??" "Yes I am," the other, understanding guy waves us over, swipes his card to let us through this door, points us down a hall, says on the left youll take an elevator, when you get out, turn left, youll be at gate C21, go through the door on the left of it, down an elevator and through a hall and you will catch a shuttle to take you to A/B terminal. I dont know how we found it, but we were able to follow these directions. At the end of a hall, we see another person and a woman waving in the doorway yelling to the shuttle - "theres one more coming!" And then, could it be?? Is the shuttle right there?? And was this person the last one or is there room for us too?? I say to her "Room for 3 more??" She waves us on. YES! However, we are driving and we now have 5 minutes until our plane was to depart. Dont they close the doors when there is 10 minutes to depart?? What ever, we were this close. I call US Airways on my phone - Can you tell me what gate our flight is leaving from? (since we still dont even know a gate...what if that original woman was wrong and we were to be in C? too late now). Of course, the phone is all breaking up and I can barley understand the person on the other end. I thought she said B2. so I repeat back, did you say b as in boy 2?? she just says, your breaking up. well, if you can hear me, its A-apple-2. we hop off the shuttle, Jack never left his stroller, we just picked the whole thing up going in and out of the shuttle bus. i was really hoping he wasnt going to use the lift b/c we did NOT have any time for a lift other than us. We go up another elevator and find gate B2, run up there and there is NO ONE left to board, the attendant is counting the boarding passes. We go to the counter, they tell us to go to the area to get on the plane. We go there, we dont have any boarding passes b/c.....remember the original ordeal??? Even though she fixed it so that our luggage would be checked through to Portland, she didnt check US through to Portland!! We are sent back to the in-flight ticket counter. They tell us that since we never checked in they gave our seats away! We are stuck in Vegas we feel, with no luggage. BUT, one guys tells us that there were standby people on the flight and we would get our seats. Its quite horrible to have someone "kicked off a plane," but we did it. And, it happened to be two people flying together so we had seats together. And after all that chaos, Jack was an absolute angle on this 2.5 hour flight.

The end.
Oh, and our luggage was in Portland.

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