I have a wonderful friend who is a flight attendant and offered for Bella and I to use her buddy passes so we could file some adoption paperwork at the embassy in Haiti. We were so so grateful for this because, honestly, we would not have been able to afford to buy full price tickets. So this friend really made it possible for us to even go on this trip! Thank you thank you thank you! We are so indebted to her!
She checked flights for us for about a week before we left. We were originally planning on flying out of LAX on Sunday but she recommended that we leave Saturday because the flights looked less busy. Saturday, after Riley's all star baseball game, Bella and I headed to LAX. We got there, got checked in (carry-on only when flying stand by), and headed to the gate where we were wait listed for our first flight.
The airport was packed. My friend said just in the last few hours Saturday the flights had all booked up and the wait lists now had over 20 people on them, and we were practically last. We talked to other people on the stand by lists and they said they had never seen it this bad. Ugh. We had high hopes though. We were so excited to get to Haiti and see Shaina!!!
If you have never flown stand by let me explain how it works. You sit at the gate and after everyone else boards they see how many seats are available and start calling names off the stand by list. You wait, and listen, and wait, and listen. Your heart is beating out of your chest. My friend was texting saying- only 1 more ahead of you, or you guys are next! The anticipation is intense! When they stop calling names and you see them close the doors and the monitor changes from "boarding" to "flight closed" your heart sinks. So then you ask them to roll you over to the next flight and you jam to the gate where the next flight will be departing from, which always manages to be on the opposite end of the very long terminal. You get to that terminal and you wait and the process starts all over again.
We did that 11 times Saturday night. After the flights to Miami started booking up and we couldn't get on the first few of those we tried for JFK because from there we could fly to PAP. We even tried for a Fort Lauderdale and possibly a Chicago too. Anything to get out of LA. 11 times people. With my exhausted 9 year old and our luggage. Back and forth and back and forth and hurry up and wait.
After the last flight out left without us on it we decided to get a hotel to sleep (I think it was about 1 or 2 am at this point). My hubby was diligently trying to find us a hotel with a shuttle to and from the airport since my car was in a parking garage miles away. No luck. Everything was sold out.
We slept in the airport.
I have slept in airports before, in my 20's. It is a whole different experience when you are in your 40's! The worst part was we had left the terminal thinking we were going to a hotel and couldn't get back in so we were stuck by the ticket counters. Bella slept on a concrete windowsill. I sat next to her and read magazines. They finally let us back in the terminal and we headed straight for the first flight out to JFK. Let me just say that walking back into the terminal we saw tons of people who had slept there too, all cozy on cots with blankets and pillows. We were not amused!
We were booked on all of the JFK and Miami flights that day. We didn't get on one of them. By 3pm my friend told me the flights that night looked worse than the night before and the next day was just as bad. But Monday night looked good. So we booked a hotel, Ryan and Riley drove down and stayed the night with us, and we all went to Knott's Berry Farm for a few hours on Monday. It was actually great bonding time for the 4 of us and helped relieve a lot of stress that Bella and I had built up over the last 2 days of airport sitting.
Monday night we got back to the airport. Spirits dashed and heads low we walked to the gate for our first flight. Nope. Next flight, nope. Next, nope. LAST flight… I couldn't believe we were going through this again. I was so exhausted both physically and emotionally! We had already missed our embassy appt, which would have been the next morning. There was no chance for us to get there in time for it now. But we still wanted to go and visit Shaina. I needed to see my lovey!
They read the names of people on the stand by list who got seats for this LAX-MIA flight. I was pretty numb to it by now. Until I heard our names!!!! I couldn't believe it! I ran up to the ticket counter and she said she had seats for us and I started to bawl. I woke Bella up and she started to bawl. My friend who got us our passes started to bawl. We were ON OUR WAY!
5 hours later we landed in Miami. There were 3 flights from Miami to Port au Prince a day. We landed too late to try to catch the first one so we had 2 more shots. My friend said it didn't look good- they looked pretty full. I resigned myself to spending the night in Miami (I mean there are worse things). But, we were amazed when we caught the last flight out of the day. Not only did we get seats but we got seats in FIRST CLASS!!!! It was such a blessing for the two of us to get to relax and be pampered for the 2 hour flight after the hellish few days we had had. And I couldn't stop smiling because I knew that in about 3 hours my lovey would be in my arms again!
At the airport-the first day
Bella sleeping that night. Thank goodness we had blankets!
Break from airport sitting at Knott's Berry Farm.
First class baby!
A girl could get used to this!