Thursday, December 24, 2009

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda...

I always used to wonder why airlines overbooked. I mean, really, who misses flights? Do that many people cancel at the last minute, or are there that many people who just forget, or just biff it all together?

Way back when my flying experience was close to nill, or amounted to a trip every few years (my family all lived nearby), flying was a BIG deal. Something I looked forward to in a way. The thought of not being 110% prepared never crossed my mind.

I suppose now that we fly a few times a year (Leif has redeemed frequent flier miles twice now), and I travel on occasion for work, flying isn't something I look forward to and is more commonplace. We know what we can take, we know how to negotiate airports with small children, flying just isn't something we get worked up about.

And now I know how a flight can get missed, because I did it.

See we were waiting in the long line at Delta the other day where a single person was manning the counter. We had checked in our 24 hours in advance and were there to check our loads of luggage (two car seats and three bags for the four of us). We stood in line about 20 minutes and finally got to check our bags.

AB, Leif and Skadi were on one confirmation and I was on another (with no bags) because I redeemed miles for my ticket. We get the luggage checked as I searched and searched for my ID.

I felt that pit in my stomach as I thought to the day before.

I had picked up the kids early and run to the bank to deposit two checks. I wanted more cash so that I could leave the housecleaner a tip. So I slipped my ID into the teller canister with my checks and deposit slip. My cash, ID and receipt came back in an envelope and two suckers as well for the kids. I tossed the envelope in my cup holder and unwrapped the lollipops for the screaming banshees occupying the back seat.

We got home and I scooped up the stuff and went in and finished getting us ready. I cleaned out my scary purse - getting rid of the crumbs in the depths and all the piles of change that I know can be a magnet for a rescreen.

That morning AB came down the stairs and announced, "well that was a near miss! I changed my pants and forgot my wallet was in the other pants!"

I rolled my eyes at him because that would have been JUST like him to lose his wallet on the day we were leaving.

We got in the car and left.

So when I felt that pit of my stomach at the Delta counter I knew exactly where my ID was. It had slipped out of the envelope in the car into my cup holder.

And we had taken AB's car to the airport and mine was at home.

T minus 45 minutes until lift off, could I make it? AB, Leif and Skadi headed through security hoping we could secure a bump (just in case) because that would mean a free ticket and a reprieve until the next flight in case I didn't make it back.

I ran to the car and jumped in and started driving while I should of how this could have happened.

I should have checked my purse when AB commented on nearly not having his ID. I never don't have my ID in my purse though, but why did I not check for it?

I had no problems zooming home at 5mph over the speed limit. I ran to my car and saw my ID and jumped back in. I pulled into the airport with 10 minutes to spare, I was going to make it.

Then the phone rang and AB announced I had 40 seconds. Actually "nevermind, they just closed the door. We missed our flight."

The tears came immediately. I missed our flight? AB had opted not to get on without me.

We made our way to the counter while AB did his best to argue that we would have made it had they not decided to leave early to no avail. We were supposed to all be through security by the time it indicated on the ticket and I hadn't made it.

Rescheduling for the next day was going to run a hefty $842 per ticket for the next day and there were no mileage tickets. We briefly contemplated jumping in the car and driving, but were then presented with the option of rescheduling for Christmas morning at a modest fee. We took it.

And that... is how you miss a flight.

I spent a lot of time kicking myself, while alternating with knowing that things happen for a reason. There was a horrible storm in Colorado wreaking havoc with the roads we were to drive. Maybe we narrowly missed a car accident? My kids' noses were running like fountains - maybe we spared my immune compromised mom from illness? My mom wasn't feeling well after her chemo, maybe it was better that we scootched our trip two days on both the arrival and departing?

Things happen for a reason and I am choosing to believe that we were meant to spend Christmas eve in our home.

Skadi and I put the Christmas tree back up this morning and redecorated it (after Lucky had knocked it down a few days before). I have shrimp bisque on the stove simmering and fresh Dungeness to go steam. And a Christmas eve service to make it to with our friends - our local family.

And the kids are watching Santa make his way around the world knowing a stop at their house is planned. Last minute trip out for Santa gifts (Skadi declared a need for a train from Santa - apparently THIS is what she has been asking for at each Santa sitting) and stocking stuffers was a success. We will drag kids out of bed and put their stockings in their hands on the plane.

And we will be thankful for what we have and that we are on our way to be with our family.

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