Those fireworks that night symbolized more than Independence for America, they were a celebration of being halfway finished with my Master’s program, a little slice of much needed freedom, and creating an unforgettable memory with my favorite two year old on my lap.
brought up memories of my last trip to the Lower 48. I had just finished summer school, went to the tanning bed, and after a brief stop at Fred Meyer, I was headed to the airport in Fairbanks. Joey and Mason had went to Anchorage the day before. They met me in the Anchorage airport. The check in process was uneventful. Then there was the typical goodnight call to my dad aka our chauffeur:
“Hi Dad, we’re checked in and about to go through security. Yeah, we’ll land in Little Rock at 8:30… No, Mason is not excited, can you hear him? We’ll give him his pill after we go through security…Ok, I’ll call you when we are about to leave Houston… Yeah, It will take a little while for us to deplane and get our bags…It’s crazy that you’re about to go to sleep and we’ll be there when you wake up! Ok, have a good night, we’ll see you in the morning!”
Security and getting to the gate were ever as routine as possible, except for my hair setting off the body scanner. I know my hair is major and a big deal, but it’s not a threat to national security.
But then…our plane was a little late! As a regular traveler, I know that the 3 (Mason, Joey, and me) of us can navigate through almost any major airport in 15-20, no matter how large it is-Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul–you get the picture, 20 minutes–we got this. I mentally figured out the timing and discovered that we would be fine with the delay and might actually make up a little time in the air with the jet stream.
We get on the plane, and are seated in the third row of coach. There was something wrong with one of the seats in the back of the plane, so that added on an extra 20 minutes delay. We finally got up in the air, and the captain assured us that we would probably make up much of the lost time. When the flight attendant came through, Joey and I asked for a soda and a cup of water. It was at night, and we had to take our vitamins. You would have thought we asked for all of the credit card numbers on her swiper. She responded by saying.
“You’re not on the cruise anymore!”
Joey and I looked at one another thoroughly confused! We weren’t on a cruise, we were in Fairbanks, living it up in a dorm, doing summer school. After several minutes we realized we were dressed alike in our red North Pole shirts, which is probably a tourist staple. Mind you, we woke up in different cities and met later in the afternoon. Our outfits were not planned together.
It was July 3, so we were as festive for the Fourth as two tired twenty-somethings could be.
I mostly forgot about the rudeness of the flight attendant until she came back asking if we wanted seconds on our drinks. Hey, since she was offering, I was not going to say no! Joey and I both got a cup of water with extra attitude on the side. Seriously. I guess she thought she would offer and no one would take her up on the offer?
We don’t ask for anything else, for obvious reasons.
The next thing I know, the lead flight attendant made the announcement that we were going to begin our descent into Houston, and that our plane was going to be about an hour late. There would be agents when we got off the plane to assist us with our connections. Some of us might miss our connecting flight. Some of us might miss our connecting flight!?!?!?! I just want to get to Little Rock and take a nap in my parent’s guest room! “Joey, hit the buzzer, what do we do?!?!?!”
We hit the buzzer and who would appear? Why, it’s Ms. Moody Flight Attendant herself! Joey calmly and cooly explains to her that our flight to Little Rock will be boarding when we land. He asks her if there is anyway the plane can wait, or if not, what our next step should be. She flips out on him, demanding to see our itinerary, not boarding pass, itinerary. She doesn’t want to see which flight we are trying to connect to, no, she wants to see where we booked our flight through! We tell her the itinerary is somewhere near the sleeping cat and that we don’t want to disturb him, as he would disturb everyone else. She responds by semi-yelling,
“It’s because you booked through Expedia! Those third party sites never give people enough time to get through airports, when you are traveling you need to have plenty of time for the delay!”
Joey and I were speechless. We have flown cross country many, many times and have never had a delay like this! We have booked through Expedia or Orbitz before and were never verbally chastised for it! The delay? Is there always a delay planned?
The next thing I know, she is up at the flight attendant station telling our story to the other flight attendants, and pointing directly to us. Every. One. Can. Hear. Well, everyone in the first 5-6 rows of coach and the last 2-3 rows of First Class.
We landed. Being so close to the front gave me a big advantage, sort of. There were no smiles or “have a great days” when we deplaned. clearly. But, I had a plan- I was going to run to the gate as fast as I could and reenact that scene from Home Alone, except I would be alone, and I would beg them to hold the plane for Joey and the passengers I saw in Anchorage in Razorback gear. I ran, as fast as one can run with a backpack and heavy carry on. I got to the terminal in time to see the board show BOARDING flash to DEPARTED. Ugh. Departed. That was the most devastating word EVER.
I moped to the ticket counter alone (Joey and Mason had got off the plane and went to the bathroom by the terminal), and briefly explained my situation while holding back some serious tears. The agent asked me to make a decision. He wanted me to either A.) Take one confirmed and one stand-by seat to Little Rock, landing around 2:00, or B.) Take two confirmed seats to Little Rock, landing around 5:00. As the line behind me grew and grew, he decided to me $20 worth of breakfast vouchers and all of the above listed tickets. About that time, Joey and Mason showed up. I said something like, “Thank you very much. You are the nicest person I have met all day.” He was totally not overly nice, but after that flight attendant, anyone would be considered really nice.
Joey and I talked it over and decided to leave security and head for the main ticketing agents. We had nearly 5 hours and not much to lose! I approached the counter and immediately asked how much money we could get for a refund. The guy was a little confused and informed us that we could only get $60 together. He asked why, and I told him that we wanted to rent a car and drive to Little Rock. After all, if we left at 8 am we would be arriving about the same time as the first plane and would be about to wake up from our post red-eye naps by the time the second plane came, not to mention the only people we would have to deal with would be one another and Mason. The ticketing agent couldn’t understand why anyone would rather drive from Houston to Little Rock than fly. We told him everything. He probably would not have believed us, except for the desperation in our voices wanting to never board a plane again.
He apologized a million times over, gave us an extra $40 in meal vouchers, and confirmed “first class” seats on the plane arriving in Little Rock at 2:00. First class means we were in the first two seats, btw. So there we were: $60 in meal vouchers, a kitty getting an attitude, 2 “first class” seats, and the promise of arriving in Little Rock a full 6 hours after we were supposed to arrive. Good thing we didn’t have big plans in Arkansas during the day!
We proceeded to lounge around the airport, take some “baby wipe baths,” clean Mason’s carrier (because he poo pooed in it, but that’s a different story), talked to other disgruntled passengers from the Anchorage flight and beyond, and spent $60 on Sobe Life Waters and some random brand of chips I had never seen before. Most of the 5 or so hours were kind of a blur.
We boarded that plane to Little Rock, finally. Our flight attendant was a skinny, young, light skinned African American lady that greatly resembled Tyra Banks. I told her an extremely watered down version of our most recent past. She asked if I would like to wake up for beverage service, I clearly declined. I was almost asleep with my seat back in the upright position before the plane was finished loading. Tyra knew my husband was in row 2, and started rubbing his shoulders. She didn’t know it, but she woke me up to tell me about his massage. I made a noise indicating that I didn’t really care, and instantly dozed off again. I woke up during the final descent into Little Rock. What a sight to wake up to!
We arrived at my parents house, squeezed in a little nap, and woke up in time for a quick shower before night fall
. We made it to our one and only plan for July 4, 2012, watching the fireworks show with my family, and my 2 year old nephew was on my lap the whole time.
There’s just no place like home.