Last Wednesday afternoon when I posted this picture of Harvey and I walking into the airport, we were blissfully unaware of what the next 12 hours had in store for us. The plan was to take a quick puddle jumper flight to Denver (usually takes about 45 minutes), have a short layover there, and then take a two hour flight to Minneapolis. We would arrive by 9:30pm, my sister and her boyfriend would pick us up, and we would be at my parents’ house by just after midnight. Not an ideal time to travel with a 12 month old who normally goes to bed at 7pm, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be too bad because he could sleep on the 2hr flight to MSP and on the 2.5-3hr drive home.
Checking in went smoothly. I knew the gate agent, and we had a nice chat while they got Harvey’s carseat checked in and our tickets printed. I thankfully remembered to tuck that bag tag receipt safely into my wallet.
Security also went smoothly. It’s a tiny regional airport, this was my 4th trip with Harvey (and I’ve done many more with Stella of course), so we have our routine down and it was easy as pie. I let Harvey run around while we waited for our flight to board, and other than a fall in the empty bar and a bruised ego that was fixed with a free bag of pretzels from the gate attendant, life was good.
Our flight was supposed to depart at 5:58pm. We didn’t start boarding until 5:51pm, but there were a whopping 12 people on the flight, so by 5:57 the cabin doors were closed and we were ready to head out. We thought we were good to go.
6:05 – We are taxiing to the runway.
6:08 – Air traffic control tells us there is a “ground stop” in Denver. The pilot says he has no idea why because weather was fine in Denver.
6:11 – My sister flying in from Ohio texts that she is also delayed and possibly going to miss her connection in Chicago
6:19 – Our pilot says his contact in Denver said the ground stop is lifted but air traffic control “hasn’t gotten the message” so we can’t take off yet. A couple of tears escape my eyes. We only had 35 minutes for the connection in the first place. What’s the point of wasting two days of vacation and spending $800 on a flight if I’m not even going to make my grandpa’s funeral in the morning? I know that my connecting flight is United’s last option into Minneapolis tonight.
6:48 – We take off 50 minutes behind schedule. 5 of us are trying to connect to the DEN-MSP flight, so our pilot promises to try to get them to hold the plane for us.
7:30 – We land, but taxiing and gate checked bags take FOREVER. We are at the far end of B concourse at DIA and my gate is at the other end (about 1 mile away) with a departure time of 7:41. I know we’re screwed.
7:45 – The gate agent confirms the other flight departed. GAH.
8:00 – My sister tells us she missed her connecting flight as well, but United switched her to American and she will get in at 12:07am. She’s been looking on her phone for options for me and Frontier has a flight that leaves Denver at 8:48 and gets into MSP at 11:40. I can’t decide if I even want to try to make it over to the A concourse in time to make this happen. Harvey’s an hour past his bedtime, I’m grieving, and we both just want to curl into a ball and sleep. In our family group text I write things like
Might just go back home…Feels pointless at this point…The won’t switch me to Frontier….I don’t have Harvey’s car seat either… Fuck.
Meanwhile I’m on the phone with a United rep (as I’m in the United service line) and tell her I just want to go home because the earliest they could get me to Minnesota would be four hours after my grandpa’s funeral. They call it a “futile trip,” reimburse me for my ticket (less a $50 fee), and I’d be back home at noon tomorrow. As she’s working on that, I start thinking about it and realize that I’ll have to spend another $100 on a hotel room in Denver and GAH… maybe I should just try to make it on that Frontier flight, because what if?
8:15 – I ask my sisters to try to book me the ticket online or via phone, and I start to run. Denver is a LONG ASS AIRPORT you guys. I had Harvey on my back, the diaper bag slung across my body, and my suitcase dragging behind me…and I RAN. It was not pretty. We ran all the way down B concourse, down to the trains, up from the trains, and all the way down A concourse to our gate at the very end.
8:30 – I buy a ticket from Frontier – literally at the gate. They charge an extra $35 for my carry-on (seriously?!), but I’m thinking it’s worth the $175 to make it to the funeral. One sister writes, “Literally just hollered YES” – another sister writes, “I’ll pay for it!” – and yet another sister is trying to figure out if she needs to round up a car seat from someone before she gets us from the airport. I love my family.
8:45 – We begin boarding, and I start to relax. HA.HA.
9:00 – I send this picture of our sweaty, exhausted faces to my family. I am so happy we are going to make it home!
9:10 – The pilot says they’re replacing a wing valve as quickly as they can. Um, okay….
9:48 – An hour after our scheduled departure time, the pilot gives those who want to permission to deplane and stretch their legs because the new part will get there “at the top of the hour.” Are you kidding me? Obviously it’s going to take awhile to fix if they’re letting 300 passengers GET OFF THE PLANE. I get off to charge my phone and let Harvey run around for a bit. Meanwhile we are all trying to figure out if Audrey & I should just try to rent a car when we get in or if my sister Augusta and her boyfriend can wait until 1am or later for us to arrive. I text Audrey a picture of the car seat claim tag and ask her to try to get a loaner seat since ours will still be in Denver.
10:10 – Audrey’s flight finally takes off. We reboard our plane.
10:20 – Harvey finally conks out in my arms. The kid is exhausted.We are ready to go – but waiting for a passenger who hadn’t returned. Are you kidding me?
10:30 – The pilot tells us we are leaving without the missing passenger, and that it will be a hard lesson for her. WOW! Her bags and everything are still on the plane. I don’t even feel too badly about it because I just want to get there already. We are finally on our way! (They very kindly put the only open seat on the plane next to me – yay!)
1:37am – We have finally landed in MN. Oh my God, Harvey is now awake and NOT happy about it, we have no car seat, and we still need to drive out to my parents’ house. Meanwhile, Audrey had spent the last hour and a half going to EVERY baggage claim desk, ticketing desk, and car rental desk. United was already closed (had been since 10pm), and nobody else would help because it wasn’t their problem. ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME? Augusta and her boyfriend head to Wal-Mart to get a car seat for Harvey so we can leave the airport. This is getting ridiculous!
2:15am – They arrive with the car seat, I quickly get it set up and buckled in, and we all pile into the car. I can’t believe we are all still awake. I give Harvey the last 3 ounces of milk I had saved for him, and he settles down and goes to sleep within minutes.
Meanwhile, my sister who picked us up had a goodie back of treats for us because she knows we both missed dinner in all the hoopla. Her boyfriend was driving, and she turns around from the passenger seat and hands us water bottles, cutie oranges, Ritz crackers, squeeze cheese, dried fruit, and a 6 pack of tall boy Mich Golden Light beers. OH MY GOD. It was the best welcoming gift I have EVER seen.
We spent the next 2 1/2 hours talking, eating, dozing, and talking some more, and by the time we rolled into my parents’ driveway at 4:45am, we were almost delirious with exhaustion. Audrey, Harvey and I piled into bed together, slept from 5-8am, and then got up to get ready to go to the funeral together with our entire family.
#soworthit #grandpa #family #love
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the trip home went perfectly! I picked up Harvey’s car seat from baggage claim in order to re-check it in upstairs at ticketing for the trip home (what a waste!), United reimbursed me for my ticket (first time ever!), and I am 100% thankful that I made the effort to get home for Grandpa’s funeral and that my family helped me to make it happen when all I wanted to do was give up and quit. I love you guys. <3
Oh boy that is quite an insane trip! I’m glad that you finally made it home to your family.
Wow. I’m glad you made it, but that’s one for the books.
I loved this story, thank you so much for sharing. For a bit there I even got sad that you were trying to go back home. I’m glad you made it. You have an amazing family and a really cool sister and bf.
Seriously?! How awful. It is a miracle you made it.
One time I went halfway to Hong Kong and the plane had to turn back halfway. Fortunately there wasn’t any deadline on my side – just work. They paid for us to stay in a hotel near the airport which was nice.
What an adventure! I would have given up after the first mishap but that’s awesome that you pushed through and it was all worth it. You guys are such troopers when it comes to traveling!
That is dedication! We had a nightmare trip once (actually the time McMister swore off flying until our youngest was 3, and Poppy wasn’t even born yet!) when Gracie was 2 and Lyla was 4 months. We were trying to come home though so there was no turning back, but I guarantee we would have turned back if we were at home. We are selfish when it comes to that kind of stuff for sure. I am so impressed by you!
oh wow! I’d have been a sobbing mess after the first hiccup. I’m so glad you were able to make it to your grandfather’s funeral though.
This is why I covet eleventy billion babies. Cause sisters are awesome.
Hey, if you EVER find yourself stranded at DIA call me! We have an extra bed AND a pac-n-play! No need for expensive hotels friend!
I am SO sorry the travel was so bad, but glad you made it. This totally reminds me of when my grandma died and Rob was in Canada for work and Simon was vomiting all night before our flight. I almost didn’t get on the plane. You’ve had a rough year. Hope it’s all happy news the rest of 2015.
so glad you made it. wow!