Monday, January 19, 2009

The trip home

Our trip home had an issue at every airport! First of all, I booked the tickets through travelocity. I did a multi-city ticket. I was not able to put Flora in a as lap baby. So I called Air China to let them know about Flora (lap baby), order a basinet, and order infant meals. No problem Until....Michael, the guide for the other group traveling with us, took us to the airport. First, we were in the wrong line. We were with our travelmates in the domestic line. We should have been in the international line (b/c I booked the tickets through to ORF). We switched lines. We waited there for a very long time, then the agent informed us that we did not have a ticket for Flora. Michael worked magic, and we threw down some cash to purchase a ticket for Flora to Beijing. And we were off...almost. Apparently, when they pulled our tickets to add Flora as a lap baby They gave away (resold) my ticket, Emily's ticket, and Claire's ticket. Uh oh! We really didn't "get it." We ran through the short security line. Michael guided us that way. We were seated in different rows. Side note here...we passed some of our travelmates in the security line (sorry guys). We get on the plane, barely. I look for row 13 and low and behold...I am in FIRST CLASS!! More accurately, Emily, Claire, Flora, and I are in first class. Joe, on the other hand, was at the back of the bus! He didn't realize it because we were in such a rush. But once he did, he was not impressed.
The ticket counter in Guangzhou did not book Flora's ticket all the way through, because they said that they were unable to do it. We found out in Beijing that information was incorrect. When we landed in Beijing we had to rush because our flight to NYC was due to leave in 1 1/2 hours (boarding in an hour). We went to the Air China counter. He told us that we needed to buy a lap seat ,and we had to hurry. My brilliant plan was to let Joe go to the ticket counter with nothing but Flora's passport, his passport, his boarding pass, and a credit card. I would keep all the girls with me and we would meet at the gate. Because we were in the secure section, not having Flora's boarding pass did not appear to be an issue. Surprise! It was! Two lovely, young Chinese women stopped me within minutes to see our boarding passes. I proudly provided them with everything I had. It wasn't enough. I broke out into tears, semi acting, playing the damsel in distress role and semi emotionally exhausted. Don't bother trying doesn't work in China. So I get on the elevator to find Joe, having no other option. The elevator was broken. So I have to walk back by Mr. Helpful at the Air China counter (we begged for assistance to move along in order to make the flight and he shrugged his shoulders absolving himself of any responsibility to us). Where upon he told me that we should have never separated. Thanks! Damn, I should have thought of that, especially since now we are in a serious pickle.
Basically, Joe and I connected after 35 minutes of us wandering the airport, where suddenly no one spoke English. Wait there was the nicest Chinese women (janitor). She started speaking Chinese. Although my Chinese was still limited to hello and thank you. With only 15 minutes until take off, one of the men at the Air China counter escorted us through the airport. When I say escorted, I mean he ran and we followed at the fastest speed possible. We left a bottle at the security check line. You know the whole liquid thing! He flagged down a cart to get us there even faster. Side note, we passed our travelmates up once again as they were leisurely walking through the airport as we were looking like crazy loons once again! We made the flight. Emily, Claire, Flora, and I were once again seated together (however, not in first class this time) and Joe was several rows back. The flight itself was uneventful. Flora did amazingly well. She had a short period of crying out of frustration of being restrained. She, quite frankly, was over it! Honestly, we all were. We landed in NYC at 1:30. Plane congestion prevented us from disembarking until nearly 2:00. The lines through the non-resident customs lines were horrendous. There were two agents checking people in. We waited for nearly an hour. With a 4:30 flight we started to get very nervous. Someone spotted our US passports in the line and moved us to the front. We met a very nice but ill informed agent. He went on and on about Flora's green card. How it should arrive within the year. How we could travel for the next year on her Chinese passport. Blah, Blah, Blah. He was very pleasant, but honestly I simply wanted him to stamp our paperwork and move us on through. He did. We checked our flight info and our plane home was delayed 2 hours (take off at 6:40). Argh! We stopped to have a little something to eat at the airport restaurant, just to kill time. During our dinner, we heard about the "Miracle on the Hudson." At the end of our meal (4:45ish) Flora went wu-wu (what her foster mother referred to as pooping). I happily picked her up and headed to the bathroom. While waiting for the woman ahead of me to finish up, I hear an announcement. "Last boarding call for flight #6227 to Norfolk. At this time everyone should be on the flight." I went tearing out of the bathroom. (Too bad, Flora, no clean nappy for you!) I went RUNNING into the restaurant screaming, "Joe, Joe, JOE! They just called our flight. Last call for our flight. We need to go NOW!" We through $$ at Rodney, the waiter. We abandoned the desserts that were just ordered. Someone sitting next to us asked what flight I was talking about. Apparently, it was their flight as well. Money flew from their wallets as well. Belongings were packed up at warp speed. We headed to gate #23. We were then redirected to gate #25. We run down the ramp. As we board the plane, I turn to Joe and say, "you realize we are going to be sitting on the plane for a while." This comment thereby sealed our fate. We sat on the tarmac for 1.5 hours. Finally, we were airborne and headed for home.
We arrived at 8:45ish. We were exhausted. But we were happily met by Fin and Finsup and Grandma and Duane. We were so glad to be done with the flying.
Our return trip was met with lots of airport drama, but we made every flight. Yippee!!


Dale said...'re home now. And Flora's with you. And that is really all that matters. Enjoy the jetlagged bliss of it all.

J said...

What a story this will make for Flora's scrapbook. So glad that you made it home.

Ha, my word verification is luckiness. I'd say that word is very appropriate for your trip home.


FinsUp said...

What? You expect a good baby AND a smoothe trip home? HA!

Shannon said...

I was exhausted and fed up with the whole experience just reading about it. You all are survivors! =)

Jen said...

Oh my goodness - what a story! It would have been hilarious except that you actually had to live it!

I enjoyed following your journey.

Following in your footsteps soon,
LID 2/20 for Emma

Sherri & Todd said...

I just myself exhausted reading your story, oh my. What a trip home, but at least you made it!! Welcome Home!! Pictures are great and thanks for sharing your journey.