I should have known it was going to be a rough weekend when I left the house headed to the airport with my newborn son at 5:45am only to find that my car was mysteriously dead. And my husband had already left town the day before. And I had no way to get to the airport for my flight at 7:45am. And, no, a taxi wasn’t an option. Not for people who live out in the middle of nowhere.
By a random stroke of luck, my husband’s travel buddy had left his very large Ford Super Duty 450 in the driveway with the keys. It was a behemoth of a vehicle, complete with a flat bed for hauling 5th wheel trailers. But faced with the option of driving it to the airport or missing my flight home, I chose to drive the beast. I threw all of our luggage into the back, strapped in my son’s carseat and my son, and blazed on down the road at a very safe breakneck speed to get to the park-and-ride in time to make my flight. I arrived at the airport in time to nurse and change James before our flight boarded.
Once the flight boarded, the bad luck from earlier continued. Due to traffic congestion at DC, they were delaying our flight for 30 minutes. This meant we all got to sit in the plane on the tarmac for 30 minutes. Thankfully, James was sleeping and didn’t mind the wait. Unfortunately, the thirty minute delay would make making our connection in DC quite difficult since the layover was only an hour. We finally took off (thirty minutes after our scheduled departure!), and James was a totally champ throughout the entire flight!
When we landed in DC, quite a few of us were rushing to make our connections. The flight attendant acknowledged that many of us were looking at tight connections, some of us to the very same flights, but she never felt the need to call ahead and notify those flights that we were running a few minutes behind and to hold the gate for us. And, of course, my connection required me to take not one but TWO different shuttles. As I ran up to the gate at 9:57a, the gate attendant shut the door in my face and said, “Sorry. Too late.” Keep in mind I’m wearing a 6-week-old infant in a sling across my chest, wearing a large backpack, and am pulling a suitcase. I was livid. Three of us who missed the flight went straight to the customer service desk to attempt to get scheduled on the next available flight.
Despite being ahead of the other people who missed their flight, I was only able to be scheduled on the next flight as a standby while they were given actual seats. If I didn’t get an actual seat on the next flight, I wouldn’t be able to get home until 10pm. That would mean I would be traveling with James for 16 hours. After some scrambling, they also found me a flight that would get me in to Rochester (which would require my family to drive over two hours to pick me up) at 4pm. They held a seat for me on that flight in case my standby status didn’t work out. So I headed down to the gate to wait for my 12:30p flight out, praying that I would get pulled off the standby list.
They called for boarding at 12p, and four people didn’t show for the flight. As the time ticked, the gate attendant made multiple announcements for the missing passengers and three more showed up. Finally, at the last minute, she pulled me off standby and gave me a boarding pass for the flight. Hallelujah! I boarded the shuttle to take me to the plane and as soon as the doors closed, an airline representative informed us that the flight was delayed for a maintenance issue. Seriously?! We all filed off the bus and returned to the terminal to wait for the maintenance issue to be corrected.
And hour and a half later, we all filed back onto the bus and drove out to the plane. James is seriously getting annoyed at this point and is screaming because he’s hungry. I’m waiting to board the plane to nurse him, and, thankfully, the people on the bus are very understanding of his wails. The bus arrives plane side, but for some reason we aren’t allowed to get off. Fifteen minutes later, after sitting on the very crowded bus with a very unhappy baby boy, the captain of the plane informs us that the flight has now been cancelled due to weather. As every person on the bus lets out a wail of frustration, the bus turns around and returns to the terminal.
At this point, I’m ready to find the next flight back to Raleigh and call it quits. The only thing that prevents me from doing so is the reason for going home. With all of the chaos happening in NY – my grandmother is in failing health, my great-aunt (my grandmother’s only surviving sibling) has been moved to a nursing home in Indiana, my aunt has passed away suddenly – it was important that I be home with my family. I wanted desperately to just go back to NC, but I knew forging onward was more important.
When I got back to the terminal, the line for customer service was so long I couldn’t see the end. I wanted to make sure I still had a seat on the Rochester flight, so I took the shuttle to the next terminal to deal with the customer service people there, hoping the line would be shorter. It was, but there was still a wait. James could wait no longer to eat, so I nursed him while waiting in line. I got plenty of stares and looks, but my child needed to eat and that was my priority. When I got up to the counter, the agent confirmed that I was still booked for the Rochester flight so I dashed over to the gate to catch it. On the way over, I called my parents and told them to get on the road since the flight was only an hour but they are two hours away from the airport.
I was able to get to the gate early enough that I could change and feed James. I also pulled him out of the sling to let him stretch his legs a bit for the next flight. By this point, we had been in the airport for six solid hours, and we both were getting frustrated and annoyed. It was an immeasurable blessing that he was so well behaved throughout the entire day. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better baby throughout the whole travel ordeal. After a little leg stretching and some adorable baby smiles and laughs, we boarded the plane.
And there we sat. For an hour. While they worked on a maintenance issue and watched the weather. Finally, after telling us that they were still waiting to hear if the flight was going to be cancelled or delayed further, they let us disembark. At 4:30pm. After sitting on the plane FOR AN HOUR. I was done. James was done.
As I fed and changed James one more time, I called my parents to tell them to turn around and go home. They told me that my brother was ready to drive down to DC and pick us up right then. But there was no way I was waiting another five hours in that airport. Thankfully, I have friends and family close to the DC area so I reached out to them. I hopped on the metro and headed out to my cousin’s house in Annapolis. I was too frustrated and annoyed to even talk to the ticketing agents at this point. Eight hours of an airport was enough, and I already had every intention of contacting customer service to complain once I was rested and home (whether it by NY-home or NC-home). I told my brother to wait until the morning to come pick me up since all of the flights the next day were sold out as well. I stayed the night with a few of my favorite people, had a couple cocktails, and attempted to rest.
My brother and nephew arrived to Annapolis just before 10a, and we all grabbed some breakfast before the long drive home. We were on the road by 11:30, but, due to endless traffic and construction in Pennsylvania, we didn’t get to Mom and Dad’s house until 6:30p. My four-hour-travel-day from the day before had turned into a 37-hour travel marathon. But the important thing is that we arrived safely and in time to be with the family for the important events of the weekend.
And my son got to meet his great-grandmother.
And have cuddles with his grandma and grandpa.
And meet some more of his cousins.
And visit NY.
So our short and sweet travel day morphed into a mini-marathon, and we were only able to spend about 40 hours with my family and loved ones. But the important thing is that we made it in time to be there when we were needed.
And now hopefully the airline will get back to me about my heated complaint …