Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Traditional Airport Post: MAYHEM!!!!!

Monday morning we were scheduled to fly out of Portland at 6:30 a.m. This would get us to Spokane by 7:30 for our team leader's conference, giving me a comfortable cushion before I gave a devotional at 9.

Our first sign of trouble, however, came as we entered the line on the "other terminal"... we usually fly United and today we were entering on the other side to fly Alaska. As Krista and I wheeled up with the baby, ready to jump into the rapidly moving line, a TSA guy waved us to the side and told us to join the "family line." We were to discover that this line should be called the "slow line." The few people in front of us took seven times longer than regular people to get through the line. A group of three hadn't brought any identification... none of them. A family of five followed them... a family of five who had never flown on a plane before, apparently. The mother kept stopping the TSA people to say things like, "Am I allowed to take my deodarant on the plane? Does that count as a liquid?" The TSA guy would say, "Deodarant is a solid."

After the slow water torture that was our experience in Family Line, we ran to our gate, because now, of course, we were late. Our gate was in the basement of the airport in the farthest reaches of the B Terminal. When we got there we were told that the flight was not yet boarding because the plane "hadn't landed yet" so I went to change the baby's diaper (if it hadn't been for the delay the poor child would have had to suffer). (SIDENOTE: Who designed the bathroom so that the "koala care baby changing station" is right next to the disposal unit for hypodermic needles? Do they hate babies or something?)

As I walked back to the gate an announcement came over the loudspeaker that our flight was now CANCELLED! Everyone leapt up and scurried to the various representatives to try to get rescheduled. By the time we got to the front of the line we were told that we could get on the 2 o'clock flight, which would have us arriving at 3. Since it was 6:30 in the morning and I was supposed to be giving a devotional at 9 AM, this was not a pleasing situation. Later I heard a guy who had been in line behind us who had been told that he couldn't get on a flight to Spokane until the following day.

After grilling the poor representative on our options, we decided to cancel our Alaska ticket and I jumped online and bought tickets on Southwest at 8 am. We now had just over an hour for me to run down and get our baggage from baggage claim, check in again with Southwest, get through security and board the plane.

And that is what I did. The baggage representative had to call the handlers, though, because they only sent three of our bags out (we are travelling with an infant, don't judge our many bags... it includes car seat and baby bed). Finally all four bags came out. I got them checked back in but then they said that I needed proof of the baby's age. I assured them that my 3 month old was not two years old. I ran for security, and since I had left Krista and the baby behind security I was able to skip the dreaded Family Line. I ran down to the C gate and arrived out of breath, sweating and victorious. I felt like I had won the Amazing Race, except that instead of a million dollars I just got to board an airplane.

And then our friend Steve Ellisen was on the plane and he rented a car, so we didn't have to take the shuttle to our hotel.

And that is the end.