Saturday, September 15, 2007

I will definitely remember the Alamo . . .

I finally got home from Texas this afternoon . . . I have to tell you about my EXCITING return trip that has me wary about traveling again for a while.

Three of my colleagues and I were to travel from San Antonio to Indianapolis on Friday afternoon. We should have arrived back in Indiana around 10:30 p.m. Friday evening. We all got to the airport on time and happily boarded the airplane. A very full airplane. And then, we proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally, they told us that the airplane was having mechanical difficulties and they were waiting on the mechanic.

We were supposed to connect in Detroit, MI - and the longer we waited, the less possibility there was that we were going to get to go home that night.

After quite a while, they finally told those of us with connections that we could disembark and attempt to make new arrangements for the morning. There were some VERY unhappy people. Some were leaving for Europe the next day, there were several young men and women in army fatigues who were going home before being deployed - and they were losing precious time with their families, and one of my colleagues had to get home to be at very important performances of his children the next morning.

We got off of the plane and called our travel services group to try and make arrangements. I got one colleague on a flight to Chicago where he could then rent a car and drive home to Indiana so he would be sure and make it to his children's performances.

And then there were three . . . We decided to fly out REALLY EARLY the next morning, in an attempt to get back to Indiana by about 11:30 a.m. I called my husband to tell him he had to be a single parent just a little while longer. He took it in stride and said he looked forward to seeing me the next day.

After re-claiming our baggage and getting a rental car - we left to go find some food, go to a hotel, and get some sleep before having to wake back up at about 4 a.m.

This is where it gets fun . . .

We got up way too early (4:00 is not supposed to come TWICE a day). We got to the airport in plenty of time; however, simple and easy just wasn't in the plans. You see, I had bought gifts for my hubby and kids in the San Antonio airport the night before. I got a snow globe and a sampler pack of 5 different Texas salsas and some stuffed bears. Well . . . they have this new ummm liquid rule for going through security that I didn't even think about, because I had bought the stuff IN the airport. So - as I was going through security, I got stopped, they pulled my bag and took me over to a special little table where they proceeded to paw through my stuff. They then informed me that the only way that I could take those things with me was to check them. Or I'd have to leave them. I was not leaving them!!! I had spent money on them. So - my wonderful colleagues held on to my SAFE luggage for me, and I went back to the counter to proceed to check my gifts.

Of course, that wasn't easy either. They didn't have any boxes. So I put the Bears, Salsa and Snowglobe's lives in the hands of the baggage handlers . . . in nothing but a plastic bag. I figured I wouldn't see them in one piece again, but I had to take a chance.

I then proceeded to go BACK through security without any issues this time. We were on our way . . . or so we thought . . .

We watched our plane come into the gate and it looked like all was going well until they started boarding a little late and then announced that the plane was having mechanical issues and they were going to have to call a mechanic (I swear it must have been the SAME PLANE from the night before). We started laughing and decided that God REALLY had a sense of humor that morning. Luckily, the three of us were inconvenienced, but not angry, so we proceeded to make jokes, laugh, and take things in stride.

They deplaned those that had already boarded and told those of us who had missed the flight the night before to go to the counter and they would book us on another airline. The three of us went to the counter, got seats on another airline and took off for another gate.

We were then putting the lives of our checked luggage into the phantom hands of people who were supposed to eventually get our bags to the proper place . . . stay tuned . . .

I called my husband and said, "you might notice I'm not in the air right now . . ." His only response was, "AGAIN?"

We got to the other airline's gate, got our boarding passes and got on the plane without issue. It was an express plane, where you actually had to go down the stairs and then walk up the stairs onto the plane -- I've never done that before . . . so that was exciting. :-)

We actually, FINALLY, took off out of San Antonio and headed for Chicago this time. I was so thankful - because I was beginning to think I was going to have to change my address. Although San Antonio was beautiful . . . I don't want to live there.

When we landed in Chicago, I knew we were within driving distance if anything else should go wrong. I had hope that I would finally get to see my husband, my children, my cats, and MY OWN BED again.

We ate some breakfast and walked to our terminal instead of taking the shuttle because we had been sitting a lot and we had plenty of time to kill. O'Hare is huge . . . They have a really cool light display over one of the moving walkways that looks like what I've HEARD its like being on an acid trip. It was cool. I want one for my house. Ha ha.

As we were finally getting ready to board what was to be our FINAL flight home . . . the announcer comes on and says that they don't have half of their crew and they were trying to locate them. We were convinced that they had pulled members of our airline's crew over to the other airline to work on the stupid plane. ;-) Thankfully, the rest of the crew showed up momentarily and we got on the plane and TOOK OFF!!! Chicago to Indy is a very short flight and I almost jumped up and down when we finally landed in Indianapolis.

We got off the plane, and I met my beautiful children and my wonderful, kind of haggard husband outside of the secure area. I was so happy to see them - but unfortunately, my airport time was not over.

We went to baggage claim for the first airline and actually found most of our baggage . . . Notice I said, 'most'? My 2 colleagues got their bags . . . AND my plastic bag o' goodies had miraculously survived the journey (Salsa and Snowglobe intact!). However, my luggage was no where to be found. My pretty new mauve luggage that held all my clothes, all of my makeup, my favorite hairbrush, my Bible, and my TEXTBOOKS (there's an excuse for not getting my homework done) . . . was lost somewhere in phantom luggage land. The people at the desk told me to file a claim with the airline we actually flew in with . . . even though THEY are the ones that lost it.

I went to file a claim and the man behind the counter, although nice, was not very optimistic about finding my luggage again. ::sighs::

Well, it was the perfect end to a couple days of travel. I didn't get mad or upset, I just figured, there was a reason for all of this . . . even if it was just for me to learn to not sweat the small stuff.

My kids and hubby prayed every night for me to get home safely - and maybe there was a reason I was NOT on those two planes that didn't take off. I may never know, but I am so glad to be home . . .

And I will always remember the Alamo, San Antonio, and to NEVER fly Northwest again.



Ruth said...

What a horrible experience! I have to admit, I love the way you tell a story. Have you heard anything about your luggage???

Shoemaker Family said...

Did you get your luggage back yet????