Friday, January 28, 2011

Stories of the Airport

Okay, so I am helping out my sister move from CA to NC.  How am I doing this?  Am I packing boxes? No.  Am I loading the truck?  No.  Am I helping drive the stuff across the country?  No.

I am taking her children to camp Flynn for a week (ish). (my house)  But wait, you say. You don't live in California. Yes, you are correct. How will they get to your house, you wonder? Ah, therein lies the story...

Once upon a time a very nice and caring sister said she would help her little sister move across the country by flying her children to her home in Pennsylvania and taking care of them while the little sister drove all her stuff across the country in a moving truck. 

So, about a week before the big sister is to leave for California, the local magicians (weather forecasters) are hard at work conjuring up a huge snowstorm.  In fact it might just be the snowpocalypse. Now, big sister is NOT, I repeat not a happy flier. But, the tickets have been purchased, plans are being made, and people are scurrying all around to make ready for the little visitors.

Gramma is very happy her little people are coming to visit.  The cousins are excited, too.  (Mom, will the man-cave be ready in time?) Uncle is wondering where everyone is going to sleep. (in our room on air mattresses, really it will be fine, dear.)

The magicians keep working their magic snow spell.  Big sister prays EVERY night for there to be NO snow. 

The flight times have been set.  Big sister looks and sees that her flight gets into California at 11:30 at night.  Little sister has told big sister that she lives an hour and a half from the airport.  The flight back to Pennsylvania leaves at 6:30am.  Hmmm.  Time to get through security with 3 small children (6 and 4 and not quite 2): an hour and a half.  What time do we need to leave your house, Little Sister?  3:30?  And we won't get back to your house until 1am?  Boy, it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense to spend 6 hours driving so that I can get a whole hour and a half of sleep (that is IF my plane is on time).  Well, I guess I'll just sleep at the airport and meet you in the morning.

The forecast has changed, and now it won't snow on the day Big Sister is to leave.  It looks like the snow for the flight home won't be a big deal, just rain, really.  Whew!  God does answer prayers.  Big Sister did not want to get stuck in an airport with three little people who don't know her all that well because she lives so far away and can't visit them regularly.

Big Sister gets really lucky on the way out and has a whole row to herself.  She wisely puts up the armrests and lays down across all three seats and sleeps.  Funny thing, though.  Big Sister has apparently read the times of the flight wrong.  She gets in to California at 11:30 East Coast time.  Which is 8:30 California time.  Whoopsy! Well, Just that much longer to find a nice quiet spot to settle in for the night.  Which she does.  And checks the weather, too ('cause she was smart and brought her laptop).

Round about midnight a very nice man on a Segway, who happens to be wearing a uniform wakes up the sleeping Big Sister and tells her that the terminal is closing and she needs to find a new spot. Okay, Officer Policeman,  I will move.  He suggests some benches down in the area where check-in is.  Yes, benches are nicer than the floor.  Big Sister moves on. 

The benches are nicer. But about a half an hour later, the airport decides to test their emergency situation automated announcement system.  The lights are flashing, the automated announcer very loudly lets the airport know that there is a f.  There is a fi.   "MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE?  MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE?  THERE IS A FIRE."  This happened every ten minutes or so for the entire night.  Big Sister did not get as much sleep as she would have liked.

Since she was still on East Coast time, she woke up for good at her regular waking up time (3am California time).  She called home.  She checked in with the local magicians.  She became afraid. Very afraid.  The snow had started.  And it wasn't rain.  But it was early, so it would be okay. 

The Children and Little Sister arrived at the airport a little bit later than Big Sister felt comfortable with.  However, the nice lady at the check-in counter gave Little Sister a pass through security.  It only took a half an hour to get all the luggage checked in.  The nice TSA folks did a very thorough screening of the baby's bottles and food.  (You know I think the baby looks a little shady, what with his blonde hair and cute little smile). 

There was only about 30 minutes to wait for the plane.  It was very difficult to get everybody on board, though.  The Girls did a great job of pulling their own carry-ons.  Big Sister carried her backpack, the baby's carry-on, the food bag, and the baby. We had the whole back part of the plane to ourselves.  It was nice.

Until the stop in Denver.  Where we were told that our flight had been canceled, and that we were welcome to get off the plane and talk to customer service about rebooking a flight that was leaving later that day.  OMG!  I have to get OFF the plane?  No, this is not good.

While standing in line waiting to book a new flight home, the 4 year old informs me that she needs to poop.  Can you hold it?  (We are almost at the front of the line)  No, I can't.  Off to the bathroom we trot. I am worried about there not being room on the flight.  I don't want to stay in the airport.  I did that.  I'm all done with that.  There are nice people all over the place.  The man behind us in the line saved us a spot, and we got back just in time to go next.  Thank you nice man wherever you are!

We are booked.  We only have 2 hours to wait.  We start walking to the complete opposite end of the terminal.  But even that's okay, because we have time.  We go to McD.  What child doesn't like that.  Three happy meals, please!  We go to our new campground near where our new plane will be and they eat.  I am not hungry.  I eat 3 french fries.

Now the six year old has to go to the bathroom. Okay, better now than later.  When we get back I am halfway listening to all the announcements and almost miss the fact that our new plane is here early and now boarding.  AHHHH!  Before they let us on they inform us that we could be diverted, or cancelled due to weather conditions in Pennsylvania.  I don't care, let me on the plane. And if that happens, they won't be putting us up in a hotel.  Whatever, I don't have id to get the kids back through security anyway.

The plane is full.  People have to get OFF the plane because there are no available seats left.  None of the children have had a nap (and remember, they have been up since 3am).  Thankfully during take-off the baby falls asleep (on my lap because I didn't buy him a seat).  As soon as we hit altitude (maybe 15 minutes into the flight) the 4 year old tells me she needs to use the bathroom.  Sigh.  Maybe the baby is so tired that he will stay asleep while I put him down on the seat.  Nope.  And he stays awake for the rest of the three and a half hour flight.  (His mother, Little Sister, has told me that he gets wild and crazy when he's tired.  Boy, she sure knows her child, well!)

We survive the ride. It is time to land.  We have not been canceled or diverted.  I will sleep in my own bed tonight!  The pilot tell us that there are 30 mile per hour cross winds and it's gong to be a bumpy landing.  This man is the most understated human on the face of the planet.  I pay money for roller coaster rides that are tame compared to this landing.  The girls are asking me if we are going to die? If the plane is going to crash.  Big Sister keeps a smile on her face and says, "Of course not, this is just like a fun ride!"  All the while thinking OMG we're going to die. 

We land in blizzard conditions.  The plane erupts in wild applause.  The nice sky-cap who helps us gather up all 15 pieces of our luggage tells us that we are the only plane to land all day long.  (I find out the next day that we are the only plane in OR out all day long.)  We drive home through blizzard conditions. 

Home. Bed. Sleep.  Amen!