I thought my blog today would be sappy and sentimental about dropping Kimmie off at the airport and knowing that I would not see her again for another week. But instead it is going to be about Kimmie's incredible airport adventures. Things happen to her in airports that I have never seen happen to anyone else.

Prior to joining our family a couple years ago, Kimmie had never flown before, and she was nervous to fly from her current home in North Carolina to us in Iowa. Although Jeremy and I assured her repeatedly that flying was fun and easy, she persisted in her fears and worried about all the possible dangers.

It turns out that Kimmie's fears are very well founded -- at least for her. When she flew for the first time, the plane that she was scheduled to ride in had collided with a bird during the previous flight. After landing in North Carolina, the airline boarded all of the new passengers including Kimmie and then proceeded to sit on the tarmac for two hours while they discussed the defect in the plane that the bird collision had caused. After two hours, they moved all of the passengers to another plane. This one had something wrong with its toilet, causing yet another delay. When Kimmie finally arrived in Chicago for a layover, crazy weather delayed her again. She waited in the airport for three more hours where she made friends with other unaccompanied minors and was given more cookies and snacks than she knew what to do with. We were very relieved when she landed safely in Iowa.

Yesterday, Kimmie attempted to fly uneventfully from Iowa back to North Carolina for a week long visit. That plan failed miserably.

You see, Kimmie had been scheduled to fly to North Carolina earlier this summer, in June. However, circumstances prevented her from taking that trip, and we switched her flight out for one in August. In June, when I switched the tickets, I spoke directly to an airline operator named Jerri, and she told me that we had to drive to the airport and exchange the paper tickets in person before June 7th, or the electronic tickets on hold for us would drop out of the system and be lost. Jeremy graciously took time out of his day (and gas out of his car) to drive to the airport (an hour away from us). He conversed with Linda, a employee at the airport who worked for that specific airline. She told him that the electronic tickets were already ours, not just on hold for us, and that we could throw our paper tickets away because they would not need them. Our tickets had already been exchanged. Jeremy was confused by this statement, because it was not what Jerri had told us.

Jeremy called me on his cell phone and had Linda speak directly to me. I questioned her words several times, and I told her what Jerri had instructed us to do. Linda adamantly repeated that we did not need the paper ticket at all; she told us that Jerri's instructions were incorrect. Jeremy returned home with the original paper tickets and the understanding that we could throw the tickets in the garbage because Kimmie would only need her ID when she arrived at the airport in August.

Yesterday, Jeremy took Kimmie to the airport. He dropped her off outside (in order to save the dollar that it would cost him if he parked the car and walked her inside). Kimmie walked up to the ticket counter and spoke with Linda. She gave Linda her ID and her itinerary code. Linda informed Kimmie that there were no tickets on hold for Kimmie and that the itinerary referenced was not paid for. Kimmie called me at work, slightly panicked from the ticket counter, and gratefully handed me over to Linda. Linda then informed me that we DID need to turn in those outdated paper tickets after all and that they would not let her on the plane until I turned in the paper tickets in exchange for the current electronic tickets. Her plane was scheduled to depart at 1:00 PM. Our house is an hour away from the airport. It was currently 11:47 PM. I realized immediately that it would be impossible for Jeremy to drive from the airport to our house to pick up the paper tickets and drive back to the airport in time to get her onto her scheduled flight. I begged Linda to delay the flight as long as possible, and I dropped everything at work. I fled for my car. Reaching our house in record time, I frantically flipped through paperwork, searching for a ticket that may have been thrown away already.

I found it in my bedroom and triumphantly waved it over my head as I raced out of the empty house. I set Jenny's cruise control at 72 (the speed limit was 65), and prayed that the cops would not be bored that day and looking for a person only going 72 down the deserted highway. Jeremy had driven halfway out to meet me in order to save time, but when we met at the gas station, he parked his truck and hopped into my car. Together we sped into the city. My phone rang when I was five minutes away from the airport. It was Kimmie and Linda again. They wanted to know how far away I was because Kimmie's plane was fully boarded, and they could not hold it much longer. The time was 12:48. "Just wait! Just a minute!" I cried into the phone. "I'm almost there!"

"Watch out!" Jeremy yelled. A large truck pulling a trailer full of lawn mowing equipment slowly pulled into my lane. I hit the brakes, and Jeremy and I braced ourselves against the invisible force pulling our bodies towards the front windshield. Slowly, I followed behind the truck, imagining myself climbing onto the roof of my moving car and leaping movie-style onto one of the mowers in the trailer ahead of us. In my mind, I ramped the mower off of the trailer and sped through the grass past all the traffic in front of us to get to the airport on time. Unfortunately, my body did not follow my imagination's instructions. By the time we arrived at the airport, it was 12:57, and there was no way that Kimmie would be able to make it through security and to the plane in time. I breathlessly handed Linda the paper tickets and gave Kimmie a commiserative hug.

Linda frowned at the computer. "Now why isn't this going through?" she muttered to herself. She double-checked the information on the paper ticket and then verified what she had typed into the airline's system. After several more unsuccessful attempts to exchange Kimmie's ticket, Linda informed me that she would need the original form of payment in order to force the exchange through. Did we use the Star Wars credit card? I asked myself, Or was it directly from our bank account? I had left my purse in the car along with my husband because we had assumed my sojourn into the airport would be less than five minutes, so he had stayed with the car in the "No Parking -- drop off only" lane which was "Strictly Enforced" according to the signs. I ran back outside, but neither my car Jenny nor my husband was in sight, and I realized that he must be circling the airport due to the strictly enforced no parking laws. I returned to the ticket counter and showed them my empty hands. "I don't have my original form of payment, and I don't remember the number."

Marci sighed. (This is getting very long, so I'm going to abbreviate.) Jeremy, Kimmie and I sat at the airport for two and a half hours waiting for them to get the exchange to go through. Once Kimmie had her tickets in hand, we rejoiced, and Jeremy and I decided to walk with her as far as security in an effort to prevent any more of her weird airport bad luck from following her. We hugged goodbye and said I love you several times. But no more misadventures occurred, and we watched her disappear up the escalator towards the gates.

Her bad luck struck again when she arrived in Milwaukee for her layover. Apparently, the Milwaukee airport had had a fire just before she arrived. When her plane de-boarded, the lights in the airport were out, and the computer systems were down. Fire fighters walked the concourses, directing passengers to appropriate gates. Kimmie followed instructions and arrived at her assigned gate. After waiting a little while, another airport employee came by and re-directed the waiting passengers to a different gate. Kimmie obediently followed the crowd to her new destination.

Thankfully, she arrived safely in North Carolina late last night. She called home to let me know that she was there, and she told me of her Milwaukee adventures.

Jeremy and I have now decided that if we ever need to use an airplane for a family vacation, we will book Kimmie's tickets on a different plane. That way she will keep all of the trouble to herself, and we will enjoy a stress-free vacation!
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1 Response
  1. Donette Says:

    So sorry about the Milwaukee layover! I heard about it on the news and felt so bad for the people stuck in the airport on a very hot and sticky day. What a way to be welcomed to Wisconsin!

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