Thursday, May 22, 2008

What not to do while traveling with kids

Don't miss your flight.

Yeah, it sounds simple enough. Apparently I was too sure of our ability to get to the airport in time, I let time get away from me. It is all Seth's fault of course, since he wouldn't get out of bed, and then we had to go see his family before we left town. It didn't have anything to do with me not knowing exactly what time our flight left, and that there was a shuttle involved in returning the rental car.

In 10 years of flying back and forth (at least once a year), this was probably only the 3rd time we've flown to Des Moines instead of Kansas City. Usually we fly in/out of KC because it's much cheaper. This time DM was cheaper, and the 100 miles less to drive was a big plus. We had rented a car, and when we picked it up it was in a little lot just outside the airport, very convenient. Of course we had as much luggage as we were allowed to in this day and age, meaning 3 checked bags and 3 carry on bags, plus an umbrella stroller and 2 car seats. Since Rylie was just a lap child she didn't get her own bag (as if we could have handled one more bag anyway).

Usually we are at least an hour and a half early, so I couldn't believe it when we were getting to the airport just 30 mins before the plane was supposed to take off. I had even read that you have to be there at least 45 mins prior to takeoff to be able to check in. I still thought we'd be OK, that is, until the little kiosk thingy said we were unable to check in. The nice guy at the counter explained how we would be put on the standby list, and helped us take our bags over to the Xray machines. Of course we thought we were going to get right on the next flight since he checked our bags for us, and you know, the bags should stay with the travellers, right? Nope.

As we were trying to check in, I noticed a girl standing beside a camera, like from a tv station or something, it was pointed right at us. As we were leaving, to go take the rental car keys back, she asked if we could spare a few mins. I bet she was secretly laughing when I told her we really didn't have time because we were about to miss our flight, which by that time was probably out on the runway. I still wonder what she was going to ask us about.

We, get ourselves through security and decide to stop and eat, since we have plenty of time before the next plane boards. Both kids were still being pretty good at this point. Then after wasting a good bit of time and money at the restaurant, we headed up to the gate. It looked pretty empty so I figured it would be no problem for them to get us on. Unfortunately, everyone else must have been thinking about the same thing as me, except they still made it. About 10 minutes before the flight started boarding the people in the gate started multiplying. Seriously, there had to be about 60 people show up in that amount of time.

Standby was a joke, they had oversold the flight, and started asking for people to give up their seats. After the flight boarded I finally got up to ask the lady how many other flights there were. She looked at everything available, even the ones that went through Chicago, and all of them were overbooked. After 4 hours at the airport with 2 rambunctious kids I was ready to scream. I managed to keep my cool, and ask about getting confirmed on a flight the next day.

4 hours later- $ 330+ spent, no luggage, 2 really cranky tired and hungry kids, and 2 exhausted adults. We, at the very least, had a free place to stay, and someone picking up our luggage for us in Phoenix so the $100 worth of frozen meat in our suitcases didn't spoil before we would get there. (Yes, we buy meat when we come home, it just tastes better)

We got up extra early and to the airport, and let me tell you how much easier and quicker it is when you just did it all the day before and you have no luggage to check. We got right on our flight to Denver, and then we had to wait. The only flight out of Denver that had seats available the day before was the 3:45 flight. The nice lady that helped us put us on standby for the 11:42 flight so we could possibly get on that one. We waited at the gate, and of course found out that they had overbooked that flight as well. So we headed on down to the gate for the next flight, since the standby list is transferred automatically. (They are so helpful, why do they overbook anyway? Somehow it just doesn't make sense to me)

When we sat down at the next gate it was pretty full, and there was a girl sitting right next to us. She asked if we were going to Phoenix, and I said yes, and explained what happened and that we were on standby. She was too. She also said she had overheard the lady at the last gate say that there were about 20 people on the list. This was about the time when I decided it had been worth it to pay the extra money, because I sure didn't want to be stuck in Denver overnight.

We finally made it through the 4 hours in the airport, and made it home at long last. We ran into the girl as we were waiting for our ride to pick us up, she had paid to buy a ticket on another airline, and probably made it before us, but had to pick up her luggage that had come in on the airline we had flown.

I have definitely learned my lesson, and I will get to the airport at least 2 hours before the flight in the future (even if I have to leave the sleeping husband behind ;) ).


  1. What a complete nightmare, good for you for havig a sense of humour about it though!

  2. We missed the flight for our honeymoon to Hawaii. I was not at all thrilled. And that was only the beginning of my husband and his many ridiculous missed/near missed flight stories. The funny part is that he flies almost daily for his job now. I think he finally got his act together!

    I wonder if you laugh when you read your story now? =)

  3. Yikes - I feel for you. As if traveling with kids wasn't hard enough... ;)