We have finally returned home after the worst travelling experience I have ever had. We went to Montana for my Grandma's funeral. The actual time we had there was wonderful. We enjoyed spending time with my family, and all 11 of my cousins were together for the first time in 17 years.
We left on Tuesday afternoon last week to go to a hotel in Detroit as our flight out was early on Wednesday morning. We got to the border in Port Huron only to have Chad's Passport set the alarm off. An officer took our passports away and we were escorted to a parking spot. An officer held a stick in front of the car and instructed us to drive right beside us. Apparently Chad was a flight risk! He had inadvertently turned in his Student Visa when we moved to Canada for the internship, but he should have kept it b/c he's still technically a student. We spent an hour explaining to an immigration officer what happened, and he finally let us go.
We went to the hotel that I had reserved on-line, to discover that it was a MOTEL of the lowest form. We decided to continue to the hotel we had previously stayed at. When I called to cancel the first hotel I was told that we should come see the rooms for ourselves (I told the lady her hotel looked dumpy so we wouldn't be staying there). I said we had, and she then told me that I'd be charged for the room anyway...... chalk it up to experience. We'll be sticking with our old favourite from now on. I paid for 2 nights, one before our trip and one after our trip.... I don't suggest this for the future (more on this later).
Wednesday morning we arrived at the airport bright and early for our 8am flight to be delayed, then cancelled for mechanical problems. The next flight they could put us on would be the next morning, could we go home? Chad said "not a chance, I'm not crossing the border again!" We asked about other airlines and got put on a Delta flight at 4pm. The check-in lady comforted us by informing us that Delta was in the "nicer, newer terminal fully equipped with children's play areas." We got our luggage off the carousel and headed to the "nicer, newer" terminal. We were told we had to wait to check-in as you are not allowed to check-in more than 6 hours before your flight. Luckily at this point we only had about 1/2 an hour to wait.
When we finally got rid of our luggage again, we headed to security. Off came the coats, shoes, out came the liquids, laptop, fold the stroller.... it's much worse when you travel with a little one! The security officer informed us we had been flagged for extra screening. Sure, why not?
Twenty minutes later we were on our way to find a child's playplace. Chad & I had visions of mall-style play areas like we've seen in the Seattle airport..... Little did we know. We passed 2 play areas before we discovered their definition was quite different from ours. The play area consisted of a Little Tykes House. Asher enjoyed it for awhile. Not 8 hours worth, but it was better than no play area at all.
After many hours of bliss, we were boarded onto our plane and off we went. Asher must have decided it was night time b/c he fell into a deep sleep that lasted most of our 4 hour flight. Our layover was surprisingly uneventful. We arrived in Montana and awaited the arrival of our 3 suitcases & carseat. We received 2 suitcases (one with a large hole where the wheel used to be). After discussing with the ticketing agent that the hole was not there to begin with we were informed that wheels are not covered by the airlines. Chad found our other suitcase, but the carseat remained unaccounted for. We were sent to our hotel with promises of a carseat exchange by the next day.
We had a great time. My brothers were there, we had an adjoining room with my parents, so we could send Asher in to visit them, the only complaint was the pool was a bit chilly.....
Our flight out of Montana was at 5pm and check-out was 1pm. I asked the desk clerk if we could have a late check-out of 3:30 so Asher could get a nap, and she said that would be fine and put a note to that effect in the computer. We put Asher down, decided we should sleep too since we would be getting back late.
-1:10, the maid calls, "Will you be staying or leaving?" I told her we were having a late check-out of 3:30. "OK"
-1:20, "Hi, this is the front desk, your check-out time is 1pm." I told her the situation only to be informed that since check-in was at 3 we could stay no longer than 3 or we'd be charged for another night. "Fine, we'll leave at 3."
Asher of course woke through all these calls, so the nap was not as we had planned.
We went to the airport to await our outbound flight. 5 minutes before departure, no plane. The board finally switches to let us know we'll be 1 hour late.... 1 hour later, same thing happens again. At this point I know we're going to miss our connection so I go the the check-in to see if I can rebook. Apparently the flight we were on at 7pm was the last one for the night and the next one they could get us on is 10am. The lady tries to convince me to go back to the hotel and catch a 6am flight from Montana to get the 10am connection. We decided we'd like to get as far as we could in order not to get stuck in the tiny airport in Montana.
We missed our connection, and stood for an hour to get rebooked on the 10am flight. Since it was a weather delay the airline wouldn't put us up, but gave us a hotel discount voucher. We headed for the hotel shuttle area to be informed that our hotel's shuttle came every 1/2 hour, and we had just missed one. When it finally came it was quite full already, not too sure where all the people on the bus came from, but they had to turn people away. This is the point where I was very glad to have Asher along, as there were protestations that the baby had to be allowed on the bus, so we got squished on.
We got to our gorgeous hotel around 11pm, and headed straight to bed, but where was the crib we ordered? 10 minutes later I called for it to be informed that they hadn't received an order for one. It finally came about 10 minutes after that.
Tuesday morning we awoke bright and early to catch the 7am shuttle from the hotel to the airport. We almost caught the 6:30 shuttle, but we were too slow in putting our coats on. The 7am arrived on time loaded with people. They had room for 5 passengers, and were taking crew members first. There were 5 crew members, we didn't have a chance. There was a guy who apparently worked for the airline that kicked up a fuss and said this thing happens every morning and he had to get to work same as everyone else, he pushed his way onto the bus and there was a bit of a scuffle, but that was all they took.
One man got so irate he yelled at the manager, the guest services guy, and anyone else who looked like they worked for the hotel. The manager wanted to call a cab and have the hotel pay for it just to get rid of the guy. That would have been a pretty costly cab fare though, since we were about 1/2 an hour from the airport. The irate guy said there were 2 more busses out there and he was going to take the keys and drive them himself! He signed up for the 7 o'clock bus, and what's the point of a list if you don't honour it?
Around 7:20 another bus showed up and the manager rushed out to tell the driver to take us all aboard and get going. The driver protested that he was the 7:30 bus, but the manager said if he didn't go he'd have a riot situation on his hands, so off we finally went!
We got to the airport to discover that the lines for security were quite long, so we decided to eat at the Burger King before we got in line. I was quite chuffed to discover that a restaurant had the foresight to have a kid's meal on the breakfast menu! I always think that would be really smart, well, BK is really smart! :)
After eating, we got in the security line and in about 10 minutes we were through! The security personnel were really efficient (although they did dump out Asher's water. Apparently juice is allowed, but not water for kids). We boarded out flight on time, and we were on our way home!
We arrived at the hotel around 3:30pm, and since we had missed our flight, they had changed our reservation to the next night. Since it was early afternoon we didn't really need the room anymore, so I asked if I could have my money back. "No, we can't refund." I asked if I could get a voucher for the credit. "No, unfortunately not." What he could do is change my reservation for a few months out, so I can call to change it and stay there again, but if I don't use it w/in 6 months I lose my money. If you're flying out of Detroit in the next few months, let me know, and you can have my room.
We were supposed to be back home in Strathroy by 5pm for the Youth Group's Pancake dinner, but it was over at 7, and that's about when we got home. Asher went to bed shortly thereafter, and slept 'til 8:30!
We are home, and happy to be here. Chad says no more air travel in the States..... we'll see how far that gets us!