I am writing this down only so I don't forget any of it when I compose my nasty letter to an airline that shall remain nameless but begins with "D" and rhymes with melta.
We got to the airport in Connecticut several hours early. we took advantage of their curbside service, with a lovely porter who got us all checked in - but neglected to mention that there were numerous flight delays, or that there were earlier flights we could take as a precaution. So, unknowingly, we took full advantage of our extra time. We returned the rental car, managed to get all of our belongings jammed into our too-small suitcases, and made it through security without too many problems. We had time to eat, and charge up Max's video game, and read some stories, and have some Dunkin Donuts. And then, I noticed something. It was nearing departure time, and our gate was eerily quiet. Where was everyone ? Were there really only 4 people on this flight to Atlanta ? That would be odd.
So I walked up to the gate. The gate agent had just finished checking everyone into the flight that was leaving in a few minutes. I saw on the board that our flight had been delayed. And that consequently, we were going to miss our connection.
"Excuse me. I think I am going to miss my connection. What should I do ?"
"I need to get this flight out of here before I can help you."
"Oh, OK, sure, I understand, I'll come back."
A few minutes later, I went up to the neighboring gate, because now the board said my flight was leaving from THAT gate instead.
"Excuse me, I think I need help - I am going to miss my connection."
The gate agent reviewed my tickets solemnly and said "You should have come up earlier, we just had a bunch of flights leave that you could have taken."
The other gate agent walked up - the one who told me she had to let that flight LEAVE before she could help me. She looked at my papers cooly, and then looked up. "Well, you are on the last flight out. So we can't do anything. Should have gotten on one of the earlier flights."
I hope the look I gave her made her skin crawl and her hair stand on end, because I was sending every maniacal violent voodoo thought her way with my eyes. Silently, of course. And really, the chain of events was already in motion, it was too late to yell and make a fuss - I needed a solution. Conveniently, I am a travel agent. So, this should be a piece of cake. Right ?
OK, if I had already missed my flight to Seattle, I needed to get to another West Coast destination that night.
The Delta gate agent refused. She would only re-route me to an airport near Seattle. San Francisco was too far south. There were no flights going anywhere near Seattle. Sorry.
So, I wanted to get on another airline, another flight - deal with this Delta thing later. No can do. All the flights are gone, you are on the last flight out. I did have a choice. Did I want to spend the night in Hartford ? Or Atlanta ?
So I decided to take the flight to Atlanta. After all, if MY flight was delayed, maybe OTHER flights would be delayed, and I could get on one of those !
So we went to Atlanta. After we landed, our plane sat on the tarmac near the airport, watching flights depart. Including my flight to Seattle. And there was not a damn thing I could do about it. Just watch them all leave, one after the other, while I remained there, in the rain, in Atlanta.
We were not the only ones stranded. And there were many passengers who were much angrier then I was. I wasn't angry, I was tired, And upset. And hungry.
But the restaurants were all closed. There was no hotel attached to the airport. We had another choice. Sleep in the airport, stretched on the floor (shudder) or across several seats.....or we could go out in the thunderstorm and try to find a hotel room. We had a conversation that went something like this:
"OK, kids, here's the deal - we can sleep in the airport-"
Lucy "Waaaaaaaahhhhhh. Sob. Sob. Choke. I don't wanna sleep in the airport."
Max "We should definitely sleep here in the airport. I will stay awake so you can sleep."
"Um, that won't be necessary. OK, so, Lucy, you want to go out and find a room somewhere ?"
Lucy "Yes. sniff sniff waaaahhhh shudder choke"
Max "NO I really don't want to go outside, let's stay here."
Lucy "Nooooooooooooo sob sob choke gag"
"OK, Max this obviously is not an option for Lucy. Let's go outside and find a motel."
Max "Mom, I am not carrying this suitcase anymore - my arm is going to fall off."
Lucy "I love the motel!"
"Well, Lucy, don't speak too soon. Come on, kids."
I then carry 4 suitcases out of the airport, cursing silently to myself. We go to the shuttle curb and wait. And wait. No shuttles come by. A van pulls up - it's a shuttle, but not a hotel shuttle. He hops out and asks where we are going, myself and my two small, wet, tired children. I explain that we need a place to sleep. He recommends a few spots, and points me in the direction of the correct motel shuttle stop - on the other side of the airport. He was both a blessing and a curse. So I picked up all the suitcases and started off, with two sleepy whiney children trailing behind. It was almost midnight. This was not going well. I was also, simultaneously, on the phone with Sami, who was frantically trying to find us a motel room online - but because it was after 11pm, no one would let him book online.
We find the shuttle area, and I walk up to the first van. At this point, I really am not very discerning - I just need to lie down.
"Do you have rooms?"
"Do you have a 24 hours shuttle that can bring me back here in 6 hours?"
"Is the room going to be clean?"
"Can you take me there RIGHT NOW ?"
"Is there food nearby?"
The man had all the right answers. I surreptitiously called Sami. "I am getting in a white van. I am going to a place called "...." (name edited to protect the innocent)
"Um, OK. Are you sure?"
We went to the motel, stopping at McDonalds on the way so the kids could eat some sort of food-ish stuff.
The motel was located vry conveniently right off the highway - next door to the Pink Pony Gentlemans Club South. Very exciting. I am told with a great deal of pride that they get a lot of truckers. And pilots.
We get to our room. The shower curtain - rod and all - are on the floor of the tub. There is no clock. The kids are jumping on the bed. I am freaking out a little bit.
We do, eventually, sleep. I am awake most of the night, but I do drift off now and again, only to awake with a start - searching for a clock to check the time. No luck with that, but I finally located my cellphone and moved it to the bedside.
A few hours later (4 hours? 5hours????) I get up and re-pack our bags, get the kids dressed, and shuttle everyone back through the pouring rain to the lobby, to catch the shuttle back to the airport.
We get on a flight to Seattle - and miss our flight to Maui by less then an hour. I had to pay a change fee to get tickets for the next day. Fuck. However, all of our suitcases have remained with us and are there at baggage claim, so we grab a cart, load it up, rent a car, and head for a brewery near my friend's house. I decide to just sit and wait for her to finish with her mommy stuff, and then meet me for a drink. Because folks, that is how we roll. And I needed a drink. No fooling.
So, a few beers later, we are at her house, making plans for the evening. We go to see Christmas lights. We go to see live Christmas music. We eat christmas lollipops and then we go home and collapse into a warm, clean, cozy bed for a real night's sleep. Oh, it was wonderful.
The next morning, bright and early, we headed back to the airport for day #3. I was really starting to hate airports.
We checked in our bags, returned the rental car, made it to the gate - I even got a Starbucks ! And then, blessedly, we got on the flight home. To Maui. Next stop Hawaii. And it was good.
There is more I could say, but I think you get the picture. It sucked, but now we are home and NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN.