Brandon and I took Ella on her first flight adventure to Pennsylvania to see my family in Philadelphia.
For weeks, I have been planning the trip...what we would do, who we would see, how we would eat famous Philly Cheesesteaks, and...all the details about the flight. Flying with a five month old seemed to me to be a daunting task, but one I was certainly up for. I feel as if I'm a pretty experienced traveler. I've been to North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia numerous times. I've traveled with large groups, in charge of large groups, and by myself. I've become quite proficient at packing, too...able to fit all I'd need for 2 weeks on the backside of the African bush in just one small bag. But for some reason, traveling with our little bundle of joy was much more stressful than any mission trip, honeymoon or vacation I'd ever taken.
I had to research everything from what to do during takeoff and landing, to the best way to keep an infant secure on a plane, to packing lists, best toys, and how to maneuver a stroller through an airport. What to check, what not to check, how to get breast milk through the security check, how to pack for below freezing temperatures...I was online A LOT...A LOT getting ready for this. Not only were we flying to PA, but for the entire week before that, we'd also be in Charlotte, NC and Burlington, NC as Brandon took a seminary class. So really, we had to be prepared to live out of our suitcases for 2 weeks.
Brandon pushed his way through the class, and even managed to get 4 hours of sleep combined during the last two days (which I was not thrilled about, but...whatever). I had the packing down to a science...what we would check, what we would bring on the plane, what items would fit best in each bag, and even enough room to bring other things back from PA.
Our flight left on Saturday morning at 6:10am. I purposefully set it up that way so that we would most likely miss the throngs of people in the airport. I figured that if we got a lot of traveling out of the way in the morning, Ella would probably sleep through most of it. We planned on leaving the house at 4:30am, being at the airport before 5am and sailing through everything because of my wonderful planning. By 11am we'd be in Philly and on our way to get our cheesesteaks for lunch and to introduce Ella to her great Grandmother.
Well, anyone with kids knows that getting out on time with them is easier said than done. My day began at 3:30am, but between trying to finish my last minute packing, going over the checklist to make sure nothing was left behind or out of place, showering, getting Brandon to get out of bed, packing the car, waking and dressing Ella while still keeping her kind of drowsy, and trying not to leave our room a total disaster area, we got in the car around 5am. A little stressed but not much because we thought it would be fine.
We forgot that we'd have to park in long term parking instead of being conveniently dropped off at the door. And, we'd have to get all of our stuff out of the car, wait for a shuttle, get all of our stuff on the shuttle (I'm talking 3 checked luggage pieces, a travel system for the baby, a violin, a breast pump, a book bag, & a diaper bag), wait as the shuttle picked up other passengers and putted out to the airport, get all our stuff off the bus and stand in line. By the time we got to the counter it was 5:41am.
We were told that we couldn't check our luggage after 30 minutes prior to takeoff. That was one minute ago. We would have to take all of our luggage and check it at the gate for an extra charge. Awesome. So...we got our boarding passes and had to take every piece of luggage to the security line. And wait. It was MOBBED in the airport. I guess that MLK holiday is a big travel day. On the intercom, we heard an announcement that our flight's gate would close in 7 minutes...
Have you ever seen A Christmas Story ("You'll shoot your eye out!-If you haven't, shame on you). Well, in the movie Ralphie wants to see Santa, and he goes with his family to the department store to tell Santa that he wants a Red Ryder BB gun. The line, he says, stretches "from here to Tarahote"...That is what this security line seemed like...and we were at the end of it. Brandon called out that we were on that plane they were boarding, and surprisingly the Red Sea parted.
Everyone must have felt bad for us...we were a pretty sorry sight with all of our stuff and this baby (who, by the way, was an angel at this point). We had to take cameras and laptops out of cases, Ella out of her carrier, fold up the stroller and carrier and base, take off shoes, belts, earrings, & watches. It was crazy. They went through ALL of our bags and threw out a lot of stuff that we would have checked if we had been allowed to. So annoying. I had to go in and out of the metal detector with Ella 3 times. And then we hear the announcement that it's 1 minute until the gate closes...
We halfway get dressed so we can run with all of our stuff down the corridor. It was such a sight. Absolutely ridiculous, really. We finally got to the gate (the next to last one from the very end, of course), and caught them right after they had closed the door...
We missed it. Oh yes..we missed it by 5 minutes.
So what did we do? How did we handle it? Did we ever get our cheesesteak?
I'll go on later...I want to leave you hanging to peek your curiosity.