April 25, 2006

My first plane trip… well, almost!

[As told by Alex] 

On Monday (April 24), Mom and I were supposed to take my first plane trip to Minneapolis where my Aunt Becky and Cousin Jack were going to meet us and we were going to spend the next week in Rochester, MN, visiting them.  Mom booked this trip last month when she thought that Dad was going to be out of town for work, but his work trip got rescheduled.  He was planning on a nice quiet week to catch up on the backlog of work and maybe hit some nice restaurants with friends, but that was just not meant to be…

We got going early to get to the airport in time for the 9:05am flight.  Dad helped us check-in and kissed us good-bye at security.  So far so good.

It turns out that absolutely everything but Mom and me has to go through the x-ray machine.  Mom did an ok job of juggling that, although the TSA agent had to help her collapse the stroller frame to get it on the x-ray belt.  Mom carried me through the metal detector and fortunately we didn’t cause it to go off! (Good thing they aren’t dressing me in clothes with pockets yet!)

We then got to take a train to the south terminal at SeaTac airport to catch our Northwest flight to Minneapolis.  The flight was oversold, so the gate area was crowded.  I had been pretty patient as we checked in, got through security, and made it to our gate, but at this point, I was getting hungry.  Mom was able to find us a nice quiet seat off to the side where she could feed me.  At this point, the first announcement was made that the flight was going to be delayed by about 15 minutes because of mechanical difficulties.

Well, a 15 minute delay didn’t seem too bad; we could probably make up that time in the air.  It was getting close to the time we’d expect to board, so Mom took me to change my diaper.  When we got back, we had another update - now the flight was delayed 30 minutes and there were some connections that they were going to rebook, just in case.  Fortunately, we didn’t have a connection, so that didn’t apply to us.

Mom started strolling me around the terminal to pass the time and help me fall asleep.  It worked pretty well; I fell asleep.  While I was asleep, they announced that the plane was going to be further delayed to leave at 10:35.  They were having mechanical difficulties and they needed to find a certain part and that was taking longer than expected.  More connections needed to be rebooked, but Mom and I just sat tight.

At 11:15 they gave us another update - the flight wasn’t being cancelled, but it was being delayed indefinitely.  The part they needed had to be flown in from Minneapolis (why they couldn’t just go down the street to Boeing and pick it up?).  Everyone gets to be rebooked now.  At this point, Mom is not very happy - the new disposable diapers she got me don’t work very well (what can I say, I’m between sizes - too small for newborn, not quite big enough for size 2 despite what the bag says) so I was using those up faster than planned; the first leaky diaper had soiled my original clothes so I was wearing the backup outfit.  Mom called Aunt Becky and she suggested to see if we could just get our money back and plan the trip another time.  Since Dad’s business trip got moved to May, that may be a better time to come out anyway.

So with that plan in mind, Mom got to the end of the very long rebooking line.  We did meet some nice friends in line.  Ahead of us was Emma with her parents.  Emma is 3 and she lives in Minnesota.  She was out here visiting her aunt with her parents while they left her 7 month-old brother, Sawyer, at home with her grandmother.  Behind was was an elderly woman named Elsie.  She was from Menomonie, Wisconsin (that’s near Eau Claire for those of you who aren’t up to date with your Wisconsin geography).  She was a bit concerned about being able to get rebooked on a flight that would get her to Minneapolis in time to make the last shuttle bus from the airport to Menomonie, which is about 2 hours away from Minneapolis.

Our new friends helped us pass the hour or so in line.  I was asleep for the first 45 minutes.  I then woke up and wasn’t too excited about staying in line, but Mom took out backup bottle of breastmilk.  I ate that and was ok for a little while longer.

So it turns out that that gate right next to our gate had the 12:20pm Northwest flight to Minneapolis departing.  That flight was also oversold and they were trying to squeeze as many people on there as possible.  When we were the next people to be helped, they had just done the final headcount on the plane and they had 1 extra seat!  They offered it to Mom and me, but since we had two seats, we couldn’t take it.  Mom told them to take our new friend Elsie instead so she would get to Minneapolis in time to get home to Menomonie tonight, and they rushed her down the jetway.  I hope she made it home safely!

It was now our turn to be helped and I knew what I should do.  We had been waiting for about an hour and 15 minutes at this point and I wanted to make sure that the gate agent gave my mom exactly what she wanted with no hassle, so I started fussing.  I wasn’t screaming - all the other passengers were pretty frustrated at this point, so I didn’t want to bother them more than needed, but I wanted to make the gate agent sympathetic.  It worked!  In a couple minutes, they had updated our record to note that Mom could call back to reschedule the trip with no penalties; our checked luggage had been pulled and would be waiting for us by baggage claim #8 in about 20 minutes - just enough time for Mom to give me another snack before we trekked back to the main terminal!

We gave Dad a call to come pick us up.  Mom found a quiet place to feed me and change my diaper, then we made our way back to the main terminal.  Our luggage was waiting for us, so we got that and wheeled out to the pickup area and found a bench to sit on.

Dad pulled up about 20 minutes later and asked “Did you miss me?“.  Mom’s answer was clearly “YES!”, but I was taking my afternoon nap, so I was too sleepy to answer.  We got into the car to head home. 

I’m kind of bummed that I didn’t get to meet my cousin Jack.  I’m getting pretty good at lifting my head 45 degrees when I’m on my stomach and I wanted to show him that trick.  Oh well, I’ll get to see him next month.  I’ll have to get to work to learn some more tricks between now and then!

See how well I’m getting my head up:


Although I wanted to see my family in Minnesota, I was happy to be home.  Here’s a picture of me playing Monday afternoon after our airport adventure:


The airport adventure did tire Mom and I out, so we took a nap later in the afternoon in the rocking chair:


Written by Brian Dewey.

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