Bad Luck Story

In my last post, I eluded to a bit of bad luck that I was having at the time.It all started when we were looking to buy airline tickets for the trip that we took out to Utah a few weeks ago…We’re notoriously bad about shopping for airline tickets. We often put it off and put it off because we get so frustrated trying to find the best deal. Our schedules are rarely flexible, so CheapTickets, Hotwire, and Priceline don’t do us much good. Often times sites like Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia don’t have the cheapest flights when compared to buying directly from the airline. And the airline web sites don’t always return the same flights as the third party sites even though they exist. Searching for flights with with frequent flier miles just adds to the headache because frequent flier miles can’t be applied to all available flights.Anyway, we did some preliminary research on flights and decided that we wanted to use some of our frequent flyer miles toward the trip. For one reason or another, we didn’t order the tickets right away. When we finally did decide to order the tickets, we found that the number of miles required for the first leg of the trip had gone up because the day was within one month of the departure date. Since we no longer had enough miles, we had to buy the tickets instead.Because Kaija is under the age of 2, her ticket is half price (excluding taxes and such). Technically, we could have gotten away with not buying her a seat, but there was no way she was going to be a happy camper on our laps. That, and we needed to take her car seat with us anyway. When we went to purchase the tickets, we found that we could not buy Kaija’s ticket over the web at the same time as ours. Apparently there were no longer three seats together (this was a month before the departure date!), so we had to call up the reservation line and buy a ticket for her separately. In doing so, the representative couldn’t get our seats all together, but she told us to call 24 hours in advance of our flight to have them assign new seats (she said the airlines will often hold some seats until then).So come the day before we’re scheduled to leave and the airline rep wasn’t able to get us all together, but she was able to get at least one of us sitting next to Kaija. We printed our boarding passes, packed our bags and put them all by the door.Unfortunately it didn’t matter. The next day, despite our best efforts to be prepared to walk out the door when Jennifer’s mom showed up to drive us to the airport, we were running late. A few last minute things took longer than expected and we got to the airport about 35 minutes before our flight was scheduled to leave. Of course, by the time we got our stuff unloaded, got through the luggage check line and tried to check in, we were within 30 minutes of our flight leaving. To those of you unfamiliar with the security regulations currently in place, in a measure to prevent “evil doers” from trying to get “bad things” on board the plane at the last minute by rushing it through security, that meant the airlines could not check our luggage and we wouldn’t be able to get on the flight.Neither one of us had ever missed a flight before. We were pretty upset at ourselves. The next flight out that had enough room for the three of us wasn’t until noon the next day. Reticketing was going to cost us $100 each. Unfortunately, there were no two seats available together. Desperate to get to Utah (and with little choice since I had 22 lift tickets that I purchased at a discount for the group), we bit the bullet and got the 3 separate seats. We would try to get them re-assigned the next day. We called Jennifer’s mom back and she drove us home.We didn’t even unpack the car that night. We didn’t want to risk missing another flight, even if it meant we were carrying an extra set of clothes that we no longer needed.Jennifer’s mom was busy the next day (Saturday), so my dad drove us to the airport. We got there 2 hours in advance this time. When we arrived, there were few cars on the roads and few people unloading infront of the terminal. Inside was a different story. The lines for checking in luggage were HUGE. We found out later that that weekend was the beginning of Winter Break for quite a few students, so there were a lot of families flying places for vacation. The airport security screeners weren’t prepaired for the amount of luggage, so much so that it was piling up behind the counters. The problem was so bad that it made the front page of the Detroit Free Press.Jennifer and I weren’t sure which line to get in. Every sign above the check-in counter were marked as E-tkt Check-in. Because we were reticketed the previous day, we weren’t sure if our tickets were still considered E-tickets. So we asked one of the attendents standing out front. He wasn’t sure either, so he motioned us to get in the World Class Business Traveller line and talk to an agent. Fortunately the agent was able to check us and our luggage in, though she wasn’t able to re-assign our seats. She told us to ask the agent at the gate.We made it through security without a problem (thank goodness!). As soon as we boarded the shuttle to the gate, though, Jennifer realized that we only had the boarding passes for myself and her. Because Kaija’s ticket had been purchased separately, it was under a separate confirmation number. In a panic, we rushed to the gate. There was no agent there yet, but there was one at the gate next door. She was able to check Kaija in, much to our relief, but still couldn’t re-assign our seats to have at least one of us sitting next to her. She did block of a few seats in the exit row with the intent that perhaps the agent for our gate could ask for volunteers to swap.When the agent did arrive at our gate, she wasn’t able to help us. The flight was overbooked. There were about 4 other families who were in the same boat but the agent didn’t even try to re-assign seats. They did offer $300 vouchers and first class seats to volunteers who would take a flight with a stop in Minneapolis later that day. As tempting as the offer was, considering how expensive the tickets had become, we had already checked our luggage and just wanted to get to Utah as soon as possible.We boarded the plane and swapping seats with about 5 different people, and even then Kaija ended up being on one side of the aisle and I was on the other. Jennifer sat about 20 rows back. Despite not sleeping much, she was very well behaved on the flight.We arrived in Salt Lake City about a half hour late. Apparently they had had a problem getting all of the luggage on the plain in a timely manner and they had waited to get as much on as possible. They didn’t wait long enough. Two of our four pieces of luggage didn’t make it (fortunately Kaija’s bag and the snowboard did). There were about 30 other people who were also missing luggage. Ironically, though they weren’t sure where the luggage was, they presumed it was on that later flight for which we had passed on the free vouchers.Jennifer gave them our contact information and the address of the house we were staying in in Park City. They told her they’d give us a call when they located our luggage.With the luggage that we did have, we picked up our rental car (Thanks, Thrifty for not screwing anything up!) and were on our way. We made a short detour to visit a co-worker of mine and his family. They were gracious enough to give us a bottle of wine (they don’t even drink!) which the rest of our group consumed quite rapidly over dinner.After dinner we still hadn’t heard back from the airline yet, so we assumed our stuff wouldn’t show up until the morning at the earliest. We went to a local grocery store to see what we could do about picking up some personal hygene products, perhaps some underwear (the one time I decide to not pack a pair in my carry-on bags, the airline lost the luggage!), and some pajamas for Jennifer (which she found!).The crib that came with the house was in the same room as two double beds. Of course, because no one else there has any kids, none of them realized that it might be a good idea to move the crib into the master bedroom since it only had one bed. One of the couples had taken the master bedroom and another couple, whom we had never met, had taken the room with the crib the previous night. Well, we didn’t want to make people move their stuff around or bother with changing sheets, so we left the crib where it was and took the open bed in that same room.Right before we went to sleep (around 11 PM), I called the airline back since we still hadn’t heard from them. The had found the luggage (it was on the later flight) and they said it would be delivered “after midnight”. Great. So now we had to stay awake and try to intercept the delivery guy before he rang the doorbell so as to not wake everyone else up.Jennifer and I didn’t sleep much that night. In addition to sleeping lightly those first few hours in anticipation of our luggage being delivered, Kaija woke up around 3 AM and didn’t want to go back to sleep. Jennifer did what she could to calm her by nursing her, but every time she tried to put her back in the crib she would scream. And scream. And scream. Usually we would just let her do so, as she usually stops after a minute or two and goes back to sleep. Not this time. And we felt bad for letting her scream since the other couple that we didn’t really know was sleeping in the same room.At 4:30 AM, Jennifer saw headlights shine through the windows of our room. Our luggage had arrived. Due to all of Kaija’s screaming, I was awake and saw the headlights as well. I jumped out of bed, pulled on a pair of jeans and ran downstairs before the delivery man rang the doorbell. *whew*By 6 AM Kaija had still not gone back to sleep (neither had the rest of us in the room). Jennifer decided to take her downstairs and play with her until about 7:15 AM so the rest of us could get some sleep. At that time we got up and got ready to slopes while Kaija and Jennifer went back to sleep.Fortunately everything seemed to work out after that. The snow was great and good times were had by all. Jennifer went cross country skiing with Kaija and our friend Dipti later that day and then went to a cool dinosaur museum the following day. I had two great days of snowboarding at The Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort.The one last bit of bad luck we did encounter was we received about 12″ of fresh powder the night before we left and couldn’t take advantage of it because we didn’t have enough time before we had to get to the airport. And there was no way we were going to let ourselves miss another plane.

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