Last week we decided to make an impromptu trip to California for business mixed with half a day of pleasure. Mike knows I have full panic attacks in traffic so he offered to come with us and drive. He told me how terrible the traffic is in LA (boy he wasn't kidding) and that he didn't want me to have a heart attack. I asked my friend Gena to stay with Jude. She is familiar with G buttons and loves being around him. So when the nurses left on Saturday and Sunday she filled in. Now before I start telling you our tale I want to explain that I have a recurrent nightmare. I am always around 15 hours away from home and I cannot get to Jude or to work. I am absolutely panic stricken. We hardly ever travel for longer than a day or so because of Jude. I just don't want to be away from him for to long.
We flew with my friend Gina who is amazing and always works out "non-rev" tickets for us. Which means we fly stand by and simply pay the taxes on our tickets vs. a full ticket price. We wouldn't be able to travel without her. Gina is the master of flying like this, but I am still learning. However, I have been pretty educated in the past few years. Since we are non rev we have to wait for empty seats that aren't being used. Generally we look at the flights to see if they are showing seats available and if so we mark ourselves on that flight. Next we look at return flights and do the same. We generally always leave a few other open flights after the initial time just in case something happens and other options into other cities if necessary. Well this weekend turned into my nightmare. On our way home we went to check into our flight. Gina sat clutching her phone connected to the companies website watching as people checked into the flight. She turned to us and said "there are 14 non-revs and there are exactly 14 seats...we will make it". You always have a little sigh of relief when you know you will make it. However, I noticed the gate clerk wasn't checking the flight screen like they normally do and wasn't looking like he was assigning any seats. He just seemed...........flustered. So we got down to when the plane would depart and I noticed he printed all the tickets up and laid them on the entrance to the gate. He looked at us and said "I will be right back". He was gone about 10-14 minutes and he was coming back in we noticed the plane............was backing out.... WHAT???????? So Gina rushes to the desk "Sir there were 14 empty seats on that flight!!". He said "we aren't holding a plane for non revs" rudely. Then when asked if we would make the next flight he replied "No, there are 5 seats your aren't making it" again rudely and walked off. Oh the foul language that swirled within that airport is still lacing the skies!! So our adventure started. Those 15 (we soon found out it was 15 empty seats not 14) non revs all rolled to the next flight to DFW. That flight had new people that had more seniority and therefore they were placed in seats first. So then we all rolled to the next flight and we are over 30 non revs now. Mike called his brother who works for a different airline and he got Mike listed on that flight. We had to get one of us home and he was the first one who could get out. He kissed me goodbye and sprinted across the airport leaving blisters on his feet. There were 3 seats available and Mike was number 4th on their non rev. We all gritted our teeth texting back and forth and suddenly Mike got a seat!! I breathed a little easier.
Searching for seats for us continued late into the night until the last 1:10 am flight.......was over sold. Emily looked at me "Mom what does this mean?". "This means we are sleeping on the floor Em!". The gate attendants talked to Gina about what happened and confirmed the gentleman we originally dealt with has serious work issues. The manager was the one that explained there were actually 15 empty seats and he didn't seem very happy with what had transpired. We explained that we understand being a non rev has it's risks for any departure but that being treated less than human isn't nice! He agreed. So the sweet gate attendants went and got us all lovely blankets and pillows. We found a corner in terminal 47A and we all snuggled in. Gina looked up to our swarm of people and said in her friendly Cinderella voice, "Good night everyone!! sweet dreams!!" She always makes everything brighter.
Early that next morning we woke up to a literal sea of people flooding into the terminal. It took me a minute to realize there was an issue. Our first flight......over sold. Second flight........over sold. By the time the third flight arrived the entire terminal was a maze of people, baggage, and cell phone wires. Then we heard the issue. There was very severe weather in DFW and 40 flights had been delayed or cancelled. OH MY WORD.....this was bad. I began texting some friends that work for the airlines. They had different suggestions and my mind was swimming. The wife of a captain that has flown for more than 40 years looked at me and said "This is the worst I have ever seen any airport" even she couldn't get out. We were now at over 100 non revs. Emily and I were 68+67. The nice ticket agent looked at every single flight going out of the airport, orange country, and Ontario. She nicely said "Honey your probably not getting home until Thursday". I called Mike "find us a ticket on S". By a slim chance he found 1 trip with a stop in San Antonio left. It was on a web special and it would only be about $150 more than what our non rev cost was and that's for both! "BOOK IT" I exclaimed. Gina even booked too. We then went and changed into more comfy clothes, grabbed our bags, said goodbye to our new friends, and headed for the new terminal.
We went back through security and since we were now pros this process was very easy. We then sat and waited to be called for our new flight just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then we heard it "This flight is over sold if anyone would like to give up their seat please let us know.". Under my breath you heard "Oh hell no you better FIND me a seat!" Once we boarded the aircraft I let out a sigh of relief. We flew through turbulent rocky weather and had a double bump landing and it really didn't phase me. I was so happy to be going home I could care less about my prior fear of flying. I am 100% over that now! I could have hopped in an air balloon and steered it home.
Mike and Jude were waiting in the parking lot with open arms. Our 24+ hour debacle was over. I looked at Emily and said "let's take this as a lesson! We had to sleep on the floor for 1 night and were miserable for 24 hours........many people do that every single day in the world". She nodded in agreement and she seemed to really get what I was trying to say. I also told her that everything you do whether positive or negative has a trickle affect on everyone around you. In this case one persons actions affected hundreds. We also met a very nice man on our plane who wants to contribute to Emily's Smile Boxes so we chalked it up to, everything happens for a reason!!
In another totally different thought... I just wanted to confirm a little bit about who I am. It's not directed at anyone. I just hear some comments sometimes. 1. I love facebook........a lot. I love social networking!! I advertise all three of my businesses on there and have written more insurance than I can count thanks to facebook. 2. I am super proud of my kids. 3. I love Emily's work in her pageants...I enjoy talking about them and sharing her pictures. I enjoy dress shopping with her and showing those off. 4. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in work and my kids I forget to reach out to others but know I love you all the same! 5. I try not to judge you so please don't judge me. 6. I am picture obsessed. I love sharing them with people. 7. I am over sensitive a lot. I take things to heart if you say them or react in certain manners. It's just me so try to ignore that part of my personality :). 8. I am a HUGE nerd. So I am just me.......take me or leave me.
Anyway, just wanted to share those things. Jen out and glad to be home!;)