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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Travel NIGHTMARE - warning Foul language ahead

So here is the story...We were in Pittsburgh PA visiting my husband's family over the holidays.  There had a been a big snowstorm (the first of the season) on the day after Christmas, but everything was pretty well cleaned up by the 29th, the day that we were flying back to CA.  We left my mother-in-law's house at about 615AM for a 9AM flight.  The roads were slippery as it was snowing lightly but we figured we had left plenty of time, especially since it takes at least an hour to get to the airport form her house anyways.  It was a Saturday so no regular traffic on the roads.  The drive out was fine - it took us more like a hour 15 to get there and then we gassed up and returned the rental car.  So far so good - running a few minutes behind but nothing crazy.  That is until we get to the baggage drop LINE!  It was seriously a mile long. They have two people working.  Kt was madness. At this point the kids are awake enough to not sit in their car seats so we have to take turns running around the airport with them. It too about a half hour to get through the baggage drop and we hadn't even gotten to the security line yet, which was 2 miles long!!  This puts us at about 845 and we were like - no way are we making our 9AM flight. Getting through security with two kids and all their stuff that has to be hand checked etc take a good extra 5-10 minutes. Ugh. We were resigned tot he fact that we were already going to miss our flight.  So we get through security at right about 9AM and they announce that the doors for our flight will be open for another 3 minutes.  OH WELL we better RUN!!  RUN!!!  To the last gate at the end of the terminal of course!!!  And then we have to get our tags for the gate checked car seats - OH MY GOD we actually made it.  I am sure everyone is glaring at us for making them 5 minutes late taking off but i wouldn't know because I am trying to hurry up and pack myself and my kid and the diaper bag and my winter coat into the tiny window seat. Oh and fun surprise - my husband and my other baby are across the aisle in the middle seat of a three seat row. CONVENIENT!  Turns out my husband hadn't been able to access the seat plan the night before when he printed out the boarding passes and we didn't have any options to change seats because we were so late boarding. Oh well it's only a couple hours to Dallas, I say in my head.  SO then we are waiting and waiting for the doors to close and it gets to be about a half hour later and the pilot comes on and tells us we have to go through the de-icing line because of the snow...of course we do.  So we taxi over and get de-iced, another half hour - that's already an hour late taking off.  But then he comes on and tells us that he is waiting for some paperwork from the ground and something about using a different wing angle or some nonsense that he was waiting for approval from the main office (in Dallas) and then we would be "all set to go." Another half hour and suddenly we are low on gas and have to RETURN TO THE GATE!!  to get refueled. At this point, people are pissed. We are two hours sitting on the tarmac.  People demand to get off the plane (really, have some patience people. Shit happens..do you really think it's going to be better if you get off??) Anyways, the lady in the row with my husband ended up getting off so he was like SWEET, an extra seat to spread out in....We got our obligatory granola bar (because, as the many aggravated folks around us gossiped, if they don't feed us after 2 hours the airline gets fined heftily..)  They did left us have our electronic devices turned on for some of this sitting around which was actually super annoying because all people were doing was calling relatives and complaining about the situation.  And then almost everyone gets the call from the airline that our flight is delayed..Yeah no SHIT SHERLOCK!  So another half hour (luckily both kids are napping by this time...) and the people who had deboarded actually got back on the plane after they realized (DUH) that their options were no better than just waiting out this flight. UGH.  Back to sardine squashiness.  As soon as we do that we have to - you guessed it - go back through the de-icing line!!  YEAH!!   And I think at one point the airplane actually got stuck in the snow on the tarmac.  SO we ended up taking off at 1230PM. Yep 3.5 hours after our scheduled departure.  and it doesn't end there...

OK so we get to Dallas about 10 minute before our connecting flight to Orange County (aka John Wayne aka Santa Ana) is supposed to leave. UGH.  We didn't want to push it because the kids needed some running around and feeding time o luckily by the time we got to the gate the flight had departed. In hindsight maybe we would have hurried our asses up and got to our flight.  The gate agent tells us that we are "booked" on the next flight to the OC which leaves around 6PM. OK great. We go and have some food and let the kids run around for an hour and saunter on back to the gate about a hour before the flight.  Well it turns out we were not indeed booked on the flight but put on the Standby list.  We were 9 and 10 on the Standby list. So we talk with the Gate agent and she gives us this spiel about how Santa Ana airport has short runways so they have to fly the plane with weight restrictions and for this flight they would have to fly with 11 open seats!  Just great!  BUT, the gate agent adds, we could get on the flight to LA that departed at about the same time. Oh super!  And how exactly we were going to get home from LA? Taxi?  We had "planned" on having a friend pick up up at John Wayne but due to all the delays that plan had fallen through.  It would only add about 45 minutes onto our trip but at least we would be in CA and not in TX.  Ok so we get on the LA flight...where did our bags end up? Who knows!  So we get to LA at about 7PM Pacific and we get us and the kids off the plane and the airline tells us that they have chartered a bus to take us to John Wayne where our bags will meet us.  Cool.  This was actually the least stressful part of the whole trip because it was a big touring bus and there were tons of empty seats. The kids were fascinated to look out the windows and we didn't have to be squashed in by our carry on bags. So we get to John Wayne, get our bags and hail a  cab.  We got home at 9PM. Yep that is 18 hours of traveling with two toddlers.  They were amazingly good (except for a mini meltdown in a restaurant).  And now I remember why I hate snow!

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