Monday, July 21, 2008

Stranded at Dulles? No Prob!

Yesterday we flew from Connecticut to Colorado. Via Washington DC. And Chicago. Total travel time? Eighteen Hours. Yup. 

We arrived in Washington at 7 a.m., expecting to catch a connecting flight immediately to Denver. Not so. The flight was overbooked by 47 passengers and we didn't make it on. At 9 a.m. we were still standing a line of confused, agitated travelers, waiting to find out how our journey would be rescheduled.

Next possible flight? Cancelled. 

Next flight after that? Stand-by list of over twenty people. No point in trying.

Soonest flight? 5:45 p.m. OK... Nine unexpected hours moping around Dulles? No way!!!!

I called my brother-in-law and within two hours he had picked us up, brought us to Target so we could purchase swimsuits (our luggage had all been checked), and we were sitting by the pool in their neighborhood! 

All girls have been taking swimming lessons and they had fun showing off for each other.

Both Talia and Katya passed into the next level groups during their last week of camp.

Isn't my niece the cutest?! I love her pixie smile!

What an unexpected playdate... It was super. 

We were dropped off again at the airport at 3 p.m., allowing us ample time to get checked in again. Simple! We'd be in Denver in a few short hours, right? 

Nope. Cancelled flight. AGAIN. No space on any others. Not even on other airlines. 

Luckily the United agent was the same one who had helped me in the morning--after I'd waited in that line for hours, unable to leave it to get Katya a drink so she could take her Ritalin... Let's just say, we made quite an impression on that man by the time we reached the front of the line. Unlike most of the people ahead of me, I was kind to the agent, refraining from taking out my frustration on him. Good call; he really appreciated it.

When he realized our flight had been cancelled AGAIN (and he had no idea we'd spent the day swimming... he must have imagined us cooped up in the airport...), he took pity on us and found us places. 

He also made some calls and gave us three round-trip vouchers for tickets any where in the USA.

We flew to Chicago, barely making our connection to Denver because our plane was delayed by an hour and a half... 

Our flight to Denver, however, was amazing. Those spaces the agent managed to find us?


Oh, the agony of ever returning to Economy... The girls' eyes were wide-open, taking in every comfortable detail... I almost wish we HADN'T seen how much greener the grass is on the other side of the fence (or curtain, as it may be)!


Rachael said...

Oh Tamara, honestly, you have the craziest travel stories! I'm thinking that maybe flying standby to Chicago in Sept. is not the greatest idea. With your luck, I mean! :) But, hey, way to score the free flights and the upgrades!

(Reminds me of our little Oklahoma hotel debacle. Our resultant rooms at the Marriot were first class all the way, on the concierge level. We were pretty spoiled. Then, when we stayed at a regular hotel at our next locale, the kids were underwhelmed and commented on it. They're permanently ruined for anything but four star now! ha.)

Tina in CT said...

At least your cancelled flights allowed you and the girls to spend part of the day with Will and the girls at the pool. It was nice that the cousins got to see each other and have a fun day. 4 cuties!

Natalie said...

Sounds miserable! If it isn't bad enough to fly with kids as it is

Tina in CT said...

Caroline sure looks like Grandma Bravo!

Steph said...

What a trip! The swimming excursion is the best travel delay story ever.

Isn't it hard to return to coach after a taste of the better life? My fiance travels often for business, and often he takes me along. Since I never knew anything but, I would fly coach and insist he take advantage of the business class ticket he was offered. One time he switched with me for a leg of a trip, and I could not believe the difference!

I kept asking him, did you have this for dinner? What did they offer you to drink? How did you like all the Swiss chocolates? And he was all, what? I got a sandwich! Soda to drink No chocolates!

It was hard to walk past his seat on the next plane!

Have a great time in Denver!

Annie said...

Well, that worked out well. Better than it might have, anyway! I was so exasperated that when Lydia flew home one time from Basic Training in her uniform, someone traded places with her so she could fly business class. Lucky Lydia....except she was so tired she immediately fell asleep and didn't even get to eat! I was rather exasperated I didn't get to hear about how the other half (well, fraction) lives!

Tina in CT said...

That makes me feel good that someone gave up their business class seat when they saw her in uniform. It's wonderful that the person was so kind.

Annie said...

Tina, I agree; I was really touched - I just wish she had been wide awake so she could have enjoyed it more!

Anonymous said... have great great stories...We flew business class both trips to Russia and now flying with the regulars is soooo uncomfortable...but we adjust...

Glad you made your destination though...

garnet said...

Oh, lucky, lucky, you. It is always so demoralizing walking past those wonderful "beds" to get to our dinky crowded seats. When I went to college in England some classmate or other was always getting upgraded. Why didn't it ever happen to me! Well, it actually has, twice. The first time was on a short flight from London to Bordeaux where there were no difference in seats except that you were seated every other person -- and the food was slightly better. Only, there was a catering strike, so no food. The second time was leaving Romania -- on Tarom! The only difference I noticed was that the flight attendant didn't act shocked when we asked for ice in our drinks.

On our last flight (London to Nairobi) I was actually shocked at just how much of the plan was devoted to non-economy. It seemed to go on and on (and it wasn't that large of a plane). Only the finally section in the back was crammed with so many seats together.

Glad you had a place to go. We were in Dulles just over a week ago and it was hard enough entertaining kids for just one hour. Wasn't exactly swimming weather, however, as we took off in a thunderstorm. Bumpiest flight I've had in years.