Monday, November 15, 2010

The Lone Traveler

As promised, here is the story of my return trip to Charlotte from Denver. Looking back, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but still makes for a good, little story.

When Chris and I flew to Denver, we booked a flight that stopped in Memphis for an hour or so because with two of us, it wouldn’t really be a hassle. We had checked the stroller frame and car seat with baggage, so we didn’t have any extra junk to haul around; I strapped Miles to me, and since he was drugged, he stayed pretty mellow the entire time. But when I returned home, I was alone because Chris had left the day before to get back to work.

My brother drove me to the airport with specific instructions from my mother to walk me inside to make sure I got off okay. So that’s what he did even though I explained that I could push the stroller with one hand and pull the suitcase with the other.

We walked up to the Delta section only to see that I have to check myself in at a kiosk before I can go up to the counter. Does this really save time? I absolutely hate it! No one ever knows what they’re doing and there is always a reason that you need to talk to the agent anyway. Especially if you’re last name is Johnson and have been put on the terror watch list because no one was willing to take the time to fix it in the system. (We spent years having to see the agent at the desk). So, I go up to the kiosk, swipe my credit card, and nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing.  I asked the agent (or greeter, I’m not really sure which) for help. She asked if I had swiped the card correctly. Yes, I’m not stupid. She tried it herself. Nothing. She asked if I was sure that was the day of my ticket. Of course, I said. Why wouldn’t it be? I usually have a copy of my itinerary printed out, but Chris had it with him. So she directed me to the ticket counter for real help.

The agent asked, “What’s your final destination?”


“Going through Atlanta?”

“No, it should be non-stop” Because who wants to try to handle a plane change alone with a 6-month-old?

“We don’t have a non-stop to Charlotte.” So she asked what time I thought I was leaving, did some typing in the computer, and then directed me to the USAirways counter. Oops. I assumed that because we flew Delta for the first leg, and because Chris flew home on Delta the day before, that I would be on Delta also.

So then I walked over to the USAirways counter, still with my brother, which I was grateful for at this point. I checked myself in with no problems, but then the agent asked where the baby’s boarding pass was. What? Doesn’t the ticket need to just say “Infant in arms”? No, apparently that’s how Delta does it. Not USAirways.

Let me explain how this tripped was booked. Chris found the flights one night while we were watching TV while I was feeding or holding Miles. No big deal. Until I was checking our itinerary a few weeks later to send to my mom and noticed that Chris had typed his name in as “Chris Johndon.” And he had forgotten that we now have a child and had not added Miles to the ticket. I called Expedia because that’s where we booked the ticket, and they explained that they could change it in the system, but our boarding pass would still have his name misspelled. The guy kind of laughed when he realized that Chris hadn’t just typed a d instead of an s, but he failed to type the rest of his first name or his middle name at all.

But apparently, it only applied to the first flight under Chris’s name. USAirways likes you to put in the baby’s name and birth date. Luckily, the agent was willing to just do it there at the counter (which begs the question, why is it necessary at all?).

Then I asked her if I could check my stroller and car seat at the counter since it was just me traveling alone with the baby.

“Don’t you want it with you in the airport?”

“No, I’m just doing to strap the baby to my chest so that I don’t have to carry more things.”

“Well, maybe you should just gate check it.”

“I really don’t need it; can’t I just check it here.”

“You can, but I really think you should just gate check it. I wouldn’t want it to get damaged at all—not that we would damage it, but just to be safe.”

This went on for a while longer until I finally just caved and agreed to gate check. Fine and dandy, but I don’t think anyone realizes how hard it is to go through security with stuff and a baby.

As I mentioned before, one great thing about having a baby was the family line at security in Charlotte where we got to skip to the front of the line. Not so in Denver. They have a family line, but it didn’t appear to be any different than anything else. So there I am, taking Miles out of his stroller, carrying him on my hip and trying to get my shoes off, place the shoes in a bin, place the diaper bag in a bin, placing the plastic baggie with my liquid medicines in it in a bin, unhooking the car seat from the stroller with one hand, placing it on the conveyer belt, and then trying to fold the stroller frame up with one hand (it involves twisting the handlebar and pulling up on the frame at the same time)! I managed to get it all on the conveyer belt with one hand, still managing to hold onto our boarding passes and my driver’s license, with NO help. Not ONE person offered to assist me in anyway. Not even a TSA agent that should be there to help people in the family line. Oh wait, a TSA agent did step forward to tell me that I needed to turn the car seat up-side-down so that it wouldn’t get stuck.

Gee, thanks for the help, sir.

But we made it through security in one piece.

After that, the only real hassles were trying to get some food in a busy airport while pushing a large stroller that I didn’t want to have with me in the first place.  Oh, and unfolding it all again in the jet way.

I guess I should be grateful that we traveled before all of the TSA changes. I’m pretty sure that Miles would not go through the body scanner, but how are they supposed to scan me and not him? And how could they pat me down in the new way with a baby in my arms? I’m almost positive that there is no way I would let a TSA agent hold my baby. I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because they always seem so surly.


Jennie said...

Just wait till you have another child. Then you have to have the stroller because you can't carry both of them and the older one keeps asking, "Why do I have to take my shoes off mommy?" And she starts crying because her favorite blanket has to go through the security scanner. She just wants to hold your hand going through the security gate because the TSA person is scary, but she has to go through by herself because you are already carrying the baby.

I tell Jon I have PTSD(Post Tramatic Stress Disorder) from traveling by myself with the kids. Just thinking about it makes me shudder.

Kimba said...

no one has ever helped me when i've flown with wyatt, and the few times there was a family line i never went in it because the one time i did it took me 10 times longer.

how ridiculous that they made you enter miles info! southwest just does it upon check in, i never even have to mention i have a lap child.

who, as of thursday, is no longer a lap child. UGH.

Brekke said...

I can sympathize. Traveling with a baby is difficult. And after you get all the stuff on the belt and your shoes off they have the nerve to make you take off the babies shoes too. Really?

The good news is with a kid who can walk and sometimes carry stuff, it is a little easier.