Flight to Hawaii

At the airport I didn’t have to open Sophia’s sippy cups going through security like I did before. They have a new electronic device to examine liquids now. “Hey that’s pretty cool.” I told the TSA officer. I was happy that I didn’t have to open the cup while he held it and I juggled a wiggly toddler like I did last year.
“Yeah,” he said, “It can smell things just as well as a dog.”
“Really?” I asked, “It actually smells things?”
“Yes,” he said, “when it works.”

I bit my tongue and tried to hide my smirk. It’s an impossible task for me, my smirk has a mind of it’s own. I don’t know if they’ve hired all new TSA people in the last couple years or if the atmosphere has calmed down a bit. They seem to actually retain some human qualities now. I remember going through security shortly after 9-11 and Kurt being yelled at for not pulling all the change out of his pocket fast enough. He tried to explain that there wasn’t a change tray available and was yelled and even more.

On another trip months after the whole shoe bomber incident I had the audacity to ask, “oh, we all have to take our shoes off?” I had previously flown threw where only people with heavy boots had to take their footwear off. I was scoffed at and made to feel like an idiot, “yeah of course, where have you been?” As if everyone that flies does so on a very regular basis.

It’s getting a lot better. They’re now polite, respectful and even helpful for those of us with kids, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking the rules are any less arbitrary or ridiculous, especially when the TSA officer himself admits the equipment isn’t always reliable.

Our flight with a toddler went well. I mean for a two year old she did great sitting in an tin tube for six hours. I think it helped a lot that she was sitting in her car seat and that I brought her favorite foods with us. I’ll now publicly thank the guy in front of Sophia for not killing her for kicking the back of his seat THE ENTIRE FLIGHT. He never said a word or even gave a glance. He just put on his headphones and leaned forward. Kurt decided that on the way back we would have a rear-facing child so she’ll only have her own seat to kick.

We brought some of her books to entertain her. Those quickly became projectile objects which I had to retrieve from the crevice between her seat and the window. After a while she indicated that she wanted us to sing “The Wheels on the Bus” repeatedly by moving her hands in the rolling wheels motion.

When we go to swimming she rarely does any of the motions to that song. She smiles and clearly enjoys it, but the only active participation for that song is that motion and splashing the water for a horn beep. In her new preschool/playgroup she learned the motions done while out of water but not only doesn’t she participate in circle time during the class but she stands on the fringe of the circle and acts as if it’s a dull spectator sport. On the plane with her parents acting like idiots for her amusement she did all the motions and even helped Kurt with which verse comes next. She actually said “beep, beep, beep” for the bus horn sound. That’s right, she said a new word on the airplane. It was also freakishly cute to hear her do the, “sh sh sh” with her finger to her lips for the part about the mommies calming the babies.

We tried to schedule the flight in a way that Sophia would sleep through at least part of it. I even had her skip her nap the day before we left, but that stubborn-won’t-sleep-in-public-places child didn’t drift off until we started our descent into Honolulu, and then I had to wake her up. We landed at eleven at night, Seattle time. It was another two hours before we actually checked into our hotel and got her to bed.

Polar bear express to Hawaii

Yep, Sophia had to take her polar bear to Hawaii. I think she has watched too many episodes of LOST.

Travel with all the trimmings, hold the Christmas

We were supposed to spend two weeks in the Midwest, one week with Kurt’s family in Michigan and one week with friends in Wisconsin. We got up on the 21st at 6am and checked the fight. All systems were go, so we left for the airport at 8 after checking again that all systems were still a go. We arrived at the airport after a little trouble finding a parking lot with a vacancy at 10. We checked the board and all things were still on time for us. The line for Norwest airline wrapped around the inside of the airport. Its length equivalent to six football fields end to end and our flight was due to take off in two and a half hours. We figured there was NO WAY we would make it through that line in that time. I waited in that line while Kurt checked around for an alternative check in.

We checked in at curbside within thirty minutes and were on our on our way through security. We made it to the gate and then onto the plane. We sat in the plane, and we sat and sat and sat some more. Sophia was fabulous through it all but after a while she, along with a couple other toddlers needed to walk up and down the isle of the plane. They told us we were fifth in line to be de-iced and then later announced that we had been moved up to third in line. We sat for two hours INSIDE the plane at the gate. Finally, they said that it would be quite a bit longer so if we wanted to we could leave our things behind and get off the plane to stretch our legs.

Twenty minutes later Alaska and Horizon airlines made an announcement that there would be NO flights out for the day and ten minutes after that our flight with Northwest was also canceled. I had to go back in the plane to get our carry-ons and then we had to go down to baggage claim to get our checked bags. They were telling people in the airport, “If you’re from Seattle GO HOME!” How rude! It took about an hour before we got our bags and then we headed home. We had to stop on the way to get dinner because there wasn’t any food at home. After all we weren’t planning on being there for two weeks. We arrived home about 8pm. We tried calling the airline for new tickets but halfway through the computerized call it would say that the phone lines were overloaded or some such and disconnect us. I tried again the next morning at 6am. It was the same thing. I finally got through after about two hours. There were no flights out for that day or the next, not even the day after that. I drilled the Northwest airlines operator asking for ANY fight out with ANY airline and even suggested other airports from which to fly out. There were absolutely NO fights until the 26th unless we wanted to quickly drive 1,957 miles to San Diego from Seattle area to catch a flight on the 23nd. Shit, fuck damn it all!

We had even missed a Christmas party the day before just so we could pack and be well rested for travel with a toddler. We actually tried to make it to the party but it took half an hour just to make it to the freeway from our house and then another half an hour to make it 14 miles out of a 54 mile trip, so we decided it would be best to turn around and go home to finish packing for our early morning flight that almost was.

The surface streets were horrible because Seattle area doesn’t believe in using salt for “environmental reasons” and the few plows they have only cover the freeways. The plows are fucking retarded here. They have a road safe rubber edge so that the snow is simply packed down to ice instead of actually removed from the road. Anywhere used to the snow would have had this shit cleared within hours. Not Seattle, no. They want to save the fucking turtles (stupid bumps in the road that let you know you’re in an actual lane because painted lines aren’t enough for Seattleites).

It’s true that salt will rust bridges and cars. It also gets into streams, but I can imagine that for the week or so out of the any given year in which Seattle actually gets snow that it would cause tremendous damage compared to all the damage done to car tires and shocks from the snowy road ruts or all the mangled metal accidents due to sliding on compacted snow. I won’t even mention the coolant, oil, and fuel that might spill into streams from these cars. Ok, maybe a brief mention. Is salting the roads really *that* bad. I don’t fuckin’ think so.

I wish we could have made it to the Christmas party so Sophia could see Santa just like last year. :P

TSA Boob Security

I was nervous all day Thursday and the night before about going on a trip without Sophia. I know she’s fine during the day with Kurt but because I’m the one with the functioning boobs I’ve always been the sole nighttime caregiver, and to top it off Kurt will be feeding her formula because after having her in daycare my freezer supply is depleted and it’s hard to build an excess when she’s always draining me. I tried weaning her onto solid food for one meal a day so that I could pump and save some, but aside from going to bed at 7pm I can’t get her to do anything consistently. It’s just not in her nature.

The other thing that worried me was not the flight like it might be for some people but airport security. I’m not afraid of the uniform, I mock all uniforms, it’s the arrogance and curt manner with which many of them address passengers. Some of them really take their rent-a-cop job much too seriously. They aren’t there for our safety. They’re only there for an illusion of safety. If you really think that making us all look foolish walking around in our stocking feet while ensuring our shoes go in a separate bin from our laptops and reducing our cosmetics to three ounce bottles all contained in a bag no bigger than a quart size, you’re really fooling yourself.

No one seems to question that prior to 9/11 airport security used to make passengers turn on their cell phones and laptops to make sure they function and aren’t just cases for something more sinister than Tetris. They don’t do that anymore. Instead, they tell us tweezers and nail clippers could be used as weapons of mass destruction, no wait, they’re ok. It’s the various liquids consumed internally for nourishment and the viscose liquids used for external personal cleansing and moisturizing that will invoke the wrath of the board-to-tears-wanting-something-exciting-to-happen-team. Oh but it’s for our safety you say. “Whatever it takes to be safe” Really? What if that retarded ‘shoe bomber’ had hid his matches in a plastic bag up his ass? Would a cavity search be ok with you? And don’t answer with, “Oh, but that’s over the top no one would require that of us.” It does give an indication of where your limit is, but it’s not an answer. I’d also like to point out that after the ‘shoe bomber’ incident that it was lighters that were banned not matches. Carrying matches was still ok. And now out of the blue, lighters are no longer a threat, but ‘loose’ lithium batteries are a no-no in checked baggage. I’m at your assistance, so here is how to carry your ‘loose’ lithium batteries. *eye roll*

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Quote generally attributed to Benjamin Franklin but probably by Richard Jackson.

Obviously, I’ve informed myself with the most current random rules, so why was I worried? I didn’t want to pay to check any bags nor risk loosing my one very important bag for my very short trip. Without that one large camera-case-like square black bag my boobies would explode! Oh, wait, sorry I didn’t use the “E” word. Note to self not to use the “E” word in an airport even in whispered conversation.

Kurt assured me that I was not the only on to ever carry a breast pump through security. But I try to never underestimate human stupidity and who knows what a square-ish non-descript black bag with a pump and air tubes may look like to them on those scanner thingies. It may very well look like a bomb. OHMYGOD – I didn’t just use the “B” word. I’d never use the “B” word, ever! Note to self – don’t carry an oddly square black bag and utter the “B” word within a ten-mile radius of any airport, even one that only caters to Cessnas and Pipers.

As Kurt drove me to the airport, I played the possible airport security scenarios in my head. The one that stood out went something like this:

After spotting me in line juggling a square black bag, shoes, quart size clear plastic bag filled with mini bottles of various viscose liquids, a laptop (because I’m physically attached to it and must carry it with me at all times much like a security blanket), and a regular carry on bag I reach the front of the line and place all of my items on the conveyor belt. My square black bag that was made to be discrete for taking to work is now scrutinized by airport security. “Ma’am, can I ask what’s in the bag?” I bite my tongue to keep from answering that type of question in my usual smartass manner. “It’s a breast pump.”

There is snickering from the two TSA girls that are now behind him. “Can you open the bag for me ma’am?”

MYGOD it’s so tempting to give a quip that would instantly emasculate him. I keep reminding myself that it isn’t the time to be a smartass. There is no freedom of speech in an airport – the humorless bastards. “Of course” I say. The pump I use is an old Medela model that I bought on eBay. You may think it’s gross to buy such a personal item used but I replaced the personal parts and anything that typically is exposed to the breast milk. I open the flap that covers one zippered pouch in the front and two on the top, and then unzip the two top compartments. One is insulated for keeping pumped milk cool and the other houses the personal things that attach to my person and make me feel like I belong in the barn at a dairy farm. I open the small front pouch that reveals the air tubes and control panel. This is when my warped mind flies way off the deep end.

In my ultimate TSA attitude scenario, Mr. TSA realizes that the compartments don’t reveal the entire inside of the bag. He becomes a little twitchy. I explain that the area not exposed by the compartments houses the pump part of the breast pump. He doesn’t care and asks how he can know for sure. Cringing at the thought of him possibly wanting a demonstration of the pump at work, I suggest that I could plug it in. This actually causes further aggravation because he now believes my black bag is going to take out the whole terminal. At this point relying on a hand pump doesn’t seem so bad. I have a hand pump that came with the electronic one and I’ve used it a couple times. I don’t like it. It takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R and I’ve never wanted to build my forearms up like a lonely man with a bottle of lotion.

I abandon the airport scenario here because I’m sure you’ll wave the bullshit flag when I mention the bomb sniffing dogs, S.W.A.T team repelling down the walls, the helicopters, and the acrobatic way in which they combined their efforts to whisk my bag into a blast proof room and detonate it.

The way to my destination was relatively uneventful except for the new annoying recording they play while going through security.

Transportation security officers need to quickly determine whether or not a bag possibly contains a threat. You already know you’re not a threat, show us by packing smart. Think layers. One layer of clothes, one layer of electronics. That way, it’s easier for us to determine what’s in your bag. Mam, boarding pass and id. Also, being prepared when you approach the checkpoint will make the whole process a lot faster. Lastly, don’t forget to carry only three ounce, travel-sized liquids, gels and aerosols when taking them in your carry-on bag and remember to put them in a clear, quart-sized, resealable plastic bag and place them in the security bin. So next time, simplifly your bags and you could get through security a little faster.

The, “show us” bit really bothers me. Does it sound like innocent until proven guilty to you? Or maybe the other way around?

I only had a tiny issue with carrying 4 ounces of sun block instead of the allowed three ounces within a bottle specifically labeled as 3 ounces, four being right out! Yep, they’re that anal. The nice TSA person let it slide, which confirms for me that the rules are truly unimportant and just plain retarded.

My breast pump didn’t cause any problem whatsoever until the way back. I swear the technician radiated the hell out of it trying to figure out what was in the bag. As I looked down the conveyor to grab my other bag he sized me up, just stared at me. I could see the little hamster running on its wheel. He was trying to decide whether to inspect further. I started to get nervous all over again, but it either, didn’t show (yeah right), they have no clue how to identify body language, or the only reason he was eyeing me was that he just wanted to know what that damn thing was, and I wasn’t about to tell him.

It’s not that I’m embarrassed about carrying a breast pump. I loathe having to explain myself. Obviously I don’t mind writing about me, but this is on my terms. So if I had been forced to explain it would have come out something like, “It’s a FUCKING breast pump, okay?” Yes, I retain all the qualities of a defiant teen except the wheelie shoes. He finally said, “I have to let this one go.” Thankfully the wiring for a breast pump is all wrong for a bomb (damn, there’s that ‘B’ word again). They also paused on the sun block and let it go, again.

I walk away feeling like I got away with something because I had an extra ounce of sun block in my bag, but you can carry scissors with blades shorter than four inches. There is no length restriction on Knitting and Crochet Needles, but “tools” must be less then seven inches. In there link about matches and lighters they write,

Lifting the lighter ban is consistent with TSA’s risk-based approach to aviation security. First and foremost, lighters no longer pose a significant threat. Freeing security officers up from fishing for 22,000 lighters every day (the current number surrendered daily across the country) enables them to focus more on finding explosives, using behavior recognition, conducting random screening procedures and other measures that increase complexity in the system, deterring terrorists. The U.S. is the only country in the world to ban lighters – all other nations, including Israel and the U.K., do not.

I find it amusing that they’re telling us how tedious the ban on lighters was and for some reason felt that it was necessary to mention that no other country had the retarded rule.

I laughed when the ban of liquids came into place. We’re made of mostly water and do I need to empty my bladder before going through security, were my thoughts. Though I knew it was an absurd rule it didn’t really bother me until now. Airlines don’t serve free drinks anymore. Even prisoners get free water, but for an airline passenger it’ll cost $2.00. Of course you can buy it in the secured areas of the airport, but where I was, it was $2.00 plus tax. Tell me the system ain’t stupid. By the way, if you’re traveling with a children you are allowed to bring breast milk, formula, and juice. And nursing moms are allowed to carry breast milk even when traveling without their baby. You just have to have it out and warn them before they see it or they may freak out and bleed from the eyes.

Baby Benadryl

From msnbc

Kate Penland, of suburban Atlanta, said she and her 19-month-old son, Garren, were flying from Atlanta to Oklahoma last month on a Continental Express flight that made a stop in Houston.

As the plane was taxiing in Houston en route to Oklahoma, “he started saying ‘Bye, bye plane,’ Penland told WSB-TV in Atlanta. The flight attendant objected, she said.

“At the end of her speech, she leaned over the gentleman beside me and said, ‘It’s not funny anymore. You need to shut your baby up,’” Penland told WSB-TV in Atlanta.

When Penland asked the woman if she was joking, she said the stewardess replied, “You know, it’s called baby Benadryl.”

“And I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to drug my child so you have a pleasant flight,’” Penland told the TV station.

Penland said other passengers began speaking up on her behalf, and the flight attendant announced they were turning around and that Penland and Garren were going to be taken off the plane.

Ohmygod! I can’t believe someone that chose to work in the customer service industry can be so intolerant to a kid that was simply saying, “Bye, bye plane” and actually have the gull to suggest drugging the child. I’m sure it was said in the repetitive manner that only toddlers and barking dogs know, but come on – you’re in the customer service field lady! I’m afraid to ask what she might suggest to a mother that has a child shrieking at the top of his lungs or throwing a temper tantrum. – I’m sorry mam but we’re just going to have to put him down.

The Cat Traveling Northwest Airlines

The very first time Kurt and I took the cat with us to Michigan for Christmas we asked the type and dimensions of acceptable cat carriers and if there were ANY other things with needed to do or bring in order to fly with the cat. Nope. We flew there and back without incident (none dealing with the cat anyway). It was our second or maybe third trip out to Michigan with the cat that nearly caused me to go to jail. We had flown to Michigan without incident, even while switching planes. The way back home was quite a different story all together.

We arrived at the airport, got our tickets, waited to board, gave my ticket to the boarding person, and I had walked halfway down the gangway when the ticket person stopped me. “Do you have a health certificate for the cat?”

“A what?”

“A health certificate – You need one to get on the plane with the cat.” I still didn’t understand what he meant. I had never heard of such a thing. I showed him on the ticket where it specified cat in cabin. “No” he said, “You need a health certificate from your vet for the cat to fly.”

“But I’m on my way home! – I got the cat here without one.”

“Well Seattle must have dropped the ball, because it’s required on all flights.”

“I’ve flown several times with the cat and have never heard of this.” At this time he’s lead in me back out of the plane and Kurt who was held up behind me was on his was to the plane.

Kurt saw me heading the opposite direction and turned, “What’s going on?”

“They won’t let the cat on.” Kurt and I were upset. We had a long vacation and were ready to just go home. They informed us that we had been informed of the rules regarding pets. I love it when people who weren’t there tell me what was told to us. I asked them why on earth I would have taken my cat to the vet a month before the flight and not obtained a health certificate at the time if I knew about it. Police were summoned as we were quite visibly irritated, and the attendants started to try and come up with a solution. Our flight had left but there was hope that we may catch the next one. We used our out of area cell phone to get my vet’s number and then call the vet, so that we could have a health certificate faxed to the airport. The vet sent the cat’s shot record but no health certificate. This wasn’t accepted. We had to call again. The vet informed us that it had just been over thirty days since the last visit and therefore she couldn’t issue a health certificate. Kurt and I were enraged that they wouldn’t just accept the record of shots, and we began cursing.

The cops at this point became a little more interactive. I was doing the bulk of the cursing, but they warned KURT to stop, hence Kurt’s favorite phrase from Officer spunky in-your-face midget, “You do realize that you’re in the Dane County Airport?”

“What the Fuck does that have to do with anything! – What are you going to do Arrest ME!?” I yelled for the entire terminal to hear.

“Yes” Officer spunky midget said.

“Fine, GO AHEAD!” I had nothing to loose, I was unemployed at the time. It would be fun to ague about freedom of speech with him.

We finally had to call our friends to come pick us up and then find a vet in the area. Even the vet couldn’t believe that we were only there for a health certificate. I took Bailey out of the carrier and she didn’t even touch him. She just filled out the form and handed it to me to sign, and I had to pay her for this.

I wrote a letter to the airline and had a battle for a while about it and all they gave us was a $200 voucher that would expire after one year. Kurt and I haven’t flown Northwest since.

24 Hours in London and Airport Hell

(This is a continuation of Never Fly Iberia) The next day Kurt and I got up and arrived at the airport one hour earlier. After going through the same line that I should have easily passed the previous day I hugged and said good-bye to Kurt, and went to the what should have been the security area. There were five security people all huddled around a baggage screen machine that wasn’t even turned on. None of them so much as looked at me and I walked around the metal detector frame, which also wasn’t on, and went right past them without incident. I arrived at my gate five minutes after receiving my boarding pass, and I was walking very slowly.

After arriving in Heathrow I meandered to the baggage area and then found my way to the main terminal where I went to the information desk to ask which terminal I would be leaving from and where I could go to get a hotel. In the swelter in dungeon of Heathrow there is an entrance to the tube and some very helpful people that arraigned a hotel room for me and showed me how the tube system works, or rather doesn’t work in their opinion. As some one who comes from an area with a mass transit system that doesn’t go anywhere useful and never gets you there faster than you could driving in second gear I found the tubes to be simply amazing. So I hopped on the tube, after getting directions to my hotel of course. They told me which tube to take and where to transfer then said that the hotel was just across the street.

I got out of the station and saw….no hotel!!!! There was just a park, and it’s the hottest June day London has had in like 5000 years. So I’m carting two bags and a backpack with the word “tourist” written all over me in ink only visible to the whole fucking world. I ask someone to help me with the address and he points in one direction. I go two blocks and ask another person they send me in the opposite direction. I go another two blocks, then I ask someone else they keep me in the same direction but I go just a bit further. I found some other tourists that actually have a map and check with them, but my street wasn’t list on their maps, so I ask another guy and he sends me out a few more blocks. I find a hotel…it’s not the right one, but they give me actual directions and I finally after an hour and a half make it to the hotel, by that time I was so sweaty I could wring my bra out. Sexy huh? So then I took a shower and went down to the lobby to find some touristy stuff to do. I got a ticket for the big red tour bus and took lots of pictures from it. On part of the tour we go by Parliament and there were some protesters so I got off and showed them my “I didn’t vote for Bush” bracelet and chatted with them. I took a bunch of pictures of their posters… “bring our children home”. One poster had a silhouette of a man holding a gas pump nozzle to his head, and there were many Bush posters with dubya sporting a Hitler mustache.

By the way I was writing this in a chat room so I’m just going to insert the chatter where it fits…

Elladan: I loved seeing that debate from Britain, where people actually called Tony Blair a lying asshole.

mercurial: Isn’t that funny? Citizens of other countries protest our president. How often do you see Americans staging a demonstration against Chirac, for example?

ME: mercurial, most Americans STILL don’t know who Chirac is but they know they aren’t FRENCH fries anymore
mercurial: hehehehe
mercurial: It’s funny ’cause it’s true. But it’s also sad ’cause it’s true.

I had fun in London The next day went to catch my plane to San Fran…I got up at five am (couldn’t sleep anymore). I stayed in the room till 6:45 then went down for breakfast. It was a complementary breakfast. For 80 pounds it’s hardly complementary but I let them get away with it anyway. I ate and left quickly to catch my “tube”. I made it back to Heathrow and waited in line forever. I was all checked an hour before my flight, which means my gate number was posted on the screen, so I went to the gate cause I’m not going to tempt myself at an airport store. Gate 56 at terminal 1. Soon after arriving at said gate in said terminal…over the speaker comes this voice…oddly it had a British accent. He said that the plane had mechanical problems and to please go to gate 52 so that we may board a different plane that will be at that gate soon. Twenty minutes later that voice came on again….please go to gate 30. We actually had to go through security AGAIN to get to gate 30. 20 minutes later… could you please LEAVE gate 30 we have vouchers for you at the BA lounge to buy lunch. We had to go through security to LEAVE gate 30, so I get my free food (5 pounds worth), and all of us passengers are all becoming fast friends. One guy starts chatting with me and is incredibly interested in everything I have to say until the word boyfriend came up on my end of the conversation

mercurial: hahaha
mercurial: Of course.
Elladan: lol
Antacid: Erica, that’s why i stopped talking to you too
ME: Antacid, LOL

So after a bit…a long bit…we’re directed back to gate 30…and we wait…and wait

mercurial: So back through security to get there?
ME: nope not this time…
ME: this time they ask if we’re the San Fran group
ME: by now they kinda know us
ME: hehehe
Elladan: hah
mercurial: Lovely.
ME: after about three and a half hours of delay they announce that we may begin boarding and the whole crowd cheers and claps (I’m not kidding)
ME: people that were not on our flight were looking at us all weird
ME: and the security people were just laughing at us or for us

So then I was seated next to the biggest lush EVER. The lush on my flight had two bottles of wine and at least three double shots in a ten hour span plus using his 5 pounds at the bar. He was a nice guy but I was getting tired of having to get up to let him go pee all the time

mercurial: Erica, Maybe you should’ve traded seats with him.
ME: I was the middle seat
ME: then he would have slept leaning on me or the other guy
mercurial: Ugh. Middle seat.
ME: yeah it sucks

I landed in San Fran… I was supposed to have had a five hour layover

mercurial: But…?
ME: but my flight from London was uumm delayed
mercurial: Right.
mercurial: We heard. *smile*
ME: hehehe
ME: I filled out my how much money do you have card to get into the states and walked to the baggage thing so that I could join in the customs crap
ME: my bag being one of the last ones to show up on the belt
ME: I grab it and wander in the general direction of connecting flights
ME: I had to actually get my ticket from
ME: Alaska Air and have them recheck my bag…again
ME: and then go through security AGAIN
ME: this time…I was one of the lucky chosen ones
ME: and I got the special search
Elladan: oh great
mercurial: hahaha Oh, that’s horrible!
mercurial: I’ve never had to have the special search… not even when I left the secure area to meet my parents in baggage claim in Memphis and finding out upon re-entry that it was 100% special search for a heightened security drill.
ME: btw all of my dirty clothes are in my carry on
mercurial: hehehe
mercurial: Lovely.
* wasme: looks up … ‘special search’?
ME: where they take the wand over you and dig through all your bags
ME: you have to take your shoes off and stand with arms out and palms up
Elladan: Erica, So, did you make your plane?
ME: yeah that one was a little late too

Never Fly Iberia

Saturday morning I got up at 7am to shower and get ready for my 9:55 flight to London. At 8am Kurt and I are in the car driving to the airport which is about 45 minutes away. We reach the airport just before nine and get in line to check in for my flight. I reach the front of the line at about a quarter after nine and the lady asks where I’m flying to. “London” I tell her. “Go to counter 18″ She says. I was confused as to why I couldn’t be helped at her line, but I went without question. I go to counter 18 and see that it was for late check in.

After 15 minutes I get to the front of that line which only consisted of three people including myself. My flight had just begun boarding, but I wasn’t worried because there weren’t many people there and there are only 12 gates in the whole airport. The lady at this counter asked where I was going and I told her, “London”. She gave a frown and directed me back to the line I came from. I told her that I had just come from there and she said, “Oh?” She looked at my info again and then said, “oh yeah, you’re late! I can’t help you. You need to be check in 45 minutes before departure for an international flight.”

I was directed to a third line to be issued another ticket. I reached the front of my third line 15 minutes before the departure of my flight, and this lady also tried to direct me back to the late check-in line. When I told her that I had just come from there she also did a second check and then said, “oh yes, you’re late!” I was again lectured about the need to be checked in 45 minutes before departure for an international flight, even though the night before Kurt had told me he had gone through after arriving at the airport 30 minutes before the departure of the exact same flight. The lady at the counter made three attempts to find a fight on another day, Sunday…booked, Monday…booked, Tuesday…booked. “I can’t help you. You’ll have to call British Airways.” She gave us the Spanish number for BA. Kurt called it on his cell phone from the airport…they’re closed on the weekend.

Kurt went up the counter for another number for BA and the lady was shocked to learn that they were closed on the weekends and didn’t have any other alternative. “I can’t help you” Was all she said. When we left the airport my flight was not only still there but was on last call…the doors weren’t even closed yet!

Kurt and I went back to his apartment and looked online for BA’s number. Gave them a call and after much waiting on hold, getting manager’s approval, and paying $165 in ticket change fees I got another flight. When relaying my new schedule, Catherine, the extremely helpful customer service person with BA began with…ok this isn’t pretty but it’s the best I can do…I had the same 9:55am flight from Bilbao Spain to London with a 24 hour layover in London…10:50am the next day a 10 hour flight to San Francisco with a five hour layover and then back to Seattle. That’s not how my flights actually played out but that was the schedule…