Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Airplane Success!

Oliver (and Andrew and I) survived the round trip flights to Chicago! On the way there, we flew Frontier. There was one empty seat on the entire plane, and it was next to Andrew and me. So, Oliver was able to have his own seat! He relaxed, drank milk and ate cookies, and watched music videos. I'm pretty sure he thought flying was the greatest thing ever. It went so well that I was even able to do a few sudoku puzzles, and Andrew was able to play a game of Magic on the laptop.

The way back was a whole different can of worms. We flew American Airlines on the way back. Because we had to drop my parents off at a different airport for an earlier flight (they were flying Frontier back), we arrived really early--5:45pm for our 8:30pm flight. We checked our bags and made our way through security. We grabbed some dinner at the food court, and then we made our way to the gate. H12. It said H12 on our ticket, and we confirmed it by checking the monitors. We set up shop at H12.

Oliver had a lot of energy, and we decided it was best to let him run it off before boarding the plane. It's difficult to let a toddler run around in such a busy airport (O'Hare is one of the busiest in the world). There were no empty gates, so we'd let him run down the hallways while we followed him and prevented him from running into anyone's way. Andrew and I alternated so the other could rest. Well, I'm sitting at the gate with a stroller and a diaper bag. A man asks me if he could sit next to me. I said sure. A few minutes later, Oliver and Andrew came back. Oliver started playing with his toys. One is a Transformer that makes noise. The man next to me was shooting us evil looks the entire time. I was thinking, "What the heck?! Switch seats, then." It wasn't like he was there first and we came in making noise. And it's not like there weren't empty seats around the gate.

At 8:15pm, I started to wonder why there was no plane at our gate. For the nearly two hours we were at the gate, there was never a flight attendant. I realized our flight might be delayed. I went back to the monitors and saw that we were moved to gate H14, and our flight time was delayed to 8:45pm. So, we shuffled over past the bathrooms to our new gate. It was already boarding, but thankfully I was able to get the stroller gate-checked before it was too late.

We boarded the plane, and it was hot and miserable. It was at least 80 degrees inside. After waiting about 15 minutes after everyone boarded, the pilot announced that take-off would be delayed a little as we got new oil in an engine or something. So, we sat and waited in the heat. Thankfully, we had a sippy cup with a little water in it. We started to ration it because there were no flight attendants or anyone coming around with water. All around us, kids started crying and screaming. Oliver stayed strong. As time went by, all the adults were starting to complain. I was getting overheated, and so was Oliver We stripped him down to his diaper. Although there was almost no air coming out of the vents, Andrew aimed his at us to try to keep us cool. I wanted Oliver's water so badly but wanted him to have it more.

After about half an hour, they moved the plane away from the gate. Then, we sat there, not moving, for another hour with no explanation. I have no idea how Oliver managed to not cry. I was trying not to panic, but Oliver was phenomenal. At one point, I let him slide the shade to the window up and down for entertainment. Mind you, it was dark outside, so it wasn't like he was constantly cutting off light to the plane. Still, the teenager ahead of us had an attitude about it and kept glaring at me. I was pissed because I was hot and pissed at him for thinking that a window shade was noisy. Would he rather the child be screaming??

After an hour and a half sitting on the hot, hot plane with no water or explanation, we took off. The pilot announced that the weather was very poor going west, so our flight path was changed. We were going to go up north through Minnesota and head west through the Dakotas and then back south to Denver. The new flight was about 3 hours, so we were on the plane for about 4.5 hours, about twice as long as we'd expected. Oliver slept for much of the flight, but the turbulence was so bad that it was difficult to keep him asleep. He cried out a few times but never got hysterical. Meanwhile, I started crying from the turbulence and a woman across the aisle started praying aloud in Hebrew from her Torah. The turbulence was that bad.

We landed around midnight local time. My dad drove back to the airport to pick us up, since we were so delayed. He said they had minor turbulence on their Frontier flight, but it wasn't that bad like it was on our American Airlines flight. It was absolute misery.

Andrew made me swear that we'd never fly American again. We've never had good service with them. Even though this flight was free with our miles, it didn't matter. It was so terrible that I wished we'd just paid the rest of the ticket to fly round trip with Frontier.

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