Trouble on the Way to Paradise
I packed my bags the night before, put in a half day at work and had a solid four hours before our plane was scheduled to leave at 6:45pm. We were meeting a group of friends in Belize to celebrate the wedding of Amanda & Eric, two of our good friends. I anticipated a relaxed, laid back affair, starting with the flights.
We scheduled our first flight from SFO to LAX with a four hour layover so that we would have plenty of time to make our LAX to BZE departure. We gave ourselves so much time because we booked flights on different airlines to save some cash. Our first flight would be on Southwest, the second on American. In order to bring our favorite sunscreen, Alba in spray form, we decided to check a bag. We like Alba because it doesn't hurt the reefs, blends in well, and smells nice.
4:55pm | Our uber arrived at SFO with plenty of time to spare.
5:10pm | After smoothly and quickly going through security, my husband settled down watching videos and I hunkered down into my book: All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister.
6:15pm | A voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that our flight would be delayed. My husband and I looked at each other in alarm, then worked out the math in our head. It was only an hour delay. We would still be okay with the cushion we had built into our travel time. Plenty of time to arrive, get our bag, re-check it, and go through security. No need to panic, this is what we planned for!
6:45pm | Our flight was delayed again. Then again. Instead of a 6:45pm departure, it would now be an 8:30pm departure. That put us at LAX at 10:00pm. Our American Airlines flight was scheduled to depart at 12:25pm. We would be cutting it close, but all hope was not lost. Not yet anyway.
8:30pm | The Southwest gate crew had us board the plane telling us that LAX had cleared us for take-off at 8:50pm. Arrival was now scheduled for 10:20pm.
8:50pm | We sat on the tarmac waiting to take-off when a flight attendant told everyone to get in their seats otherwise we wouldn't be able to leave the runway. Someone was in the bathroom. A plane wide grumble of passengers prompted the person to return to their seat, albeit at a disconcerting mosey rather than an apologetic hurry. No matter. They were in their seat and we were going to leave. Goodbye stress, hello beach life!
8:59pm | "Hi everybody. This is the Captain speaking. Unfortunately we missed our take-off slot. It will likely be a half hour before there is another opening. I'm sorry about this - it's out of our control. We'll keep you posted."
9:00pm | Panic.
9:01pm | Time to start brainstorming options. There is no way we are going to be able to check our bag at this point. In fact, we might miss the flight all together. And even though we bought travel insurance, it won't matter because we are on two different airlines and are essentially just missing our flight. They won't care it's not our fault. We should have just booked American Airlines the whole way! So much for saving money. We could now be out the full cost of the flights.
9:05pm | Plan A is to consolidate our carry ons and reduce our 50lb checked duffle to something that could pass as a carry on. Plan B is for Kelly (my husband) to go to Belize and for me to follow the next day. It doesn't make sense for both of our plane tickets to be wasted.
9:12pm | Eating snacks that take up space and getting the air out of all others. Frantically shoving as much crap from each of our two carry ons into one each.
9:37pm | My stomach has officially dropped out of my body. I feel sick.
9:39pm | Plan A becomes more developed. To save time, I will wait for the bag at baggage claim (Kelly can no longer run due to a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago) and Kelly will go to the American Airlines check-in counter to get our boarding passes and see if there is ANY chance at all that they will let us check our bag. He also needs to get himself a boarding pass because for whatever reason, the American Airlines website won't send his boarding pass to our phones, only mine.
9:50pm | Take-off. I no longer have nails.
10:47pm | Land in LAX. Way to go Captain! Cut off some flying time!
10:48pm | "Hello again, this is the Captain. There are a few planes in front of us that are done for the night so they have to be towed off the runway in order for us to get to our gate."
10:49pm | Is this real life?
11:22pm | We finally pull up to our gate in LAX and people start deplaning. A mere three hours after our scheduled arrival.
11:28pm | Plan A begins. Kelly heads to the American Airlines terminal (which just happens to be at the opposite corner of the airport, literally the furthest possible distance two terminals could be from each other) and I head to baggage claim.
11:48pm | I have the 50lb duffle on back and my 20lb carry-on strapped to my front. I wait for 5 minutes to see if the bus is coming and then bail. If we're going to make it, I need to run for it. In my Target flip flops, I start jogging through the parking garage to get to the other side of the airport.
11:50pm | Considering I've been training for a half marathon, I should have been able to run longer than 2 minutes. I take a short break to slow to a walk and catch my breath. I need to find a smart cart.
11:51pm | Smart cart spotted and I'm back on the move! My husband's last words to me were, "I'm counting on you." I won't let you down Kelly! I plop my bag onto the cart only to realize it was turned on it's side. Wheels down, I start running as fast as I can along the sidewalk.
11:52pm | "On your left!" "On your right" I'm barreling through people like the a-hole I have to be to get to my flight. Some people understand and move out of the way. Other people move out of the way and give me dirty looks.
11:53pm | Meanwhile at American Airlines, the attendant at the line wouldn't let Kelly get in line to see an agent. "You're going to miss your flight," she told him. Not one to give up easily, Kelly headed to the self-serve kiosk to see if it would print off our boarding passes. It did!
11:55pm | I've arrived at the American Airlines terminal! Hoorah! Now to rework the bags.
11:59pm | We had to throw away our favorite sunscreen and some snacks, but managed to get the rest of the stuff shoved in somewhat decently between 5 carry-ons. We would deal with having too many carry-ons at the gate.
12:00pm | Security. We had TSA pre, but since it was so late, that line was closed. And there were at least 30 people in line in front of us. This just wasn't going to work. We asked the person in front of us if we could go ahead and he mumbled something which we took to mean no, so decided to go around the line entirely. We unhooked the line barrier and went to the front. We asked a woman if we could step in, that our flight was leaving in less than 25 minutes, and she gracefully said yes.
"I've been in your shoes before," she said empathetically. There was still a bit of a hold up to get to the one TSA agent checking boarding passes and IDs, but once he saw when our flight left and that we were TSA pre, he told us to skip ahead of everyone.
"Let them through," he yelled over his shoulder. Praise praise! We rushed to push our stuff through the x-ray machine.
12:08pm | Running through LAX towards our gate all the way at the end of the hall.
12:20pm | We literally run into our group of friends after a gate change moved our gate closer to the security check point. Sweat had turned my light gray t-shirt charcoal in between my boobs and under my pits. My face had turned tomato red. But, we had made it. And no matter how messy I looked, we succeeded against poor odds.
12:25pm | Loudspeaker: "American Airlines flight to Belize is delayed until 2:00am."