divahh.com
Mar 30 2012

Kids Have to Sleep in Airport Alone – Travel Hell

Ok, that was a lie to get you to read the article. The kids didn’t actually have to sleep in the airport alone but they did sleep in the airport. Wait, I’m getting quite a bit ahead of the story here.

What follows is an account of the worst trip I have ever taken and how 2 amazing kids kept everything in check throughout the many, MANY ordeals that occurred in a short, 5 day jaunt to Los Angeles.

Everyone has a “travel hell” story. I even have a couple. Take coming from (to Vancouver, BC) from Fort Lauderdale when the kids were 5 and 8. Our connection from Dallas to Seattle was CANCELLED meaning we couldn’t fly out of Ft. L and had to wait, in the airport for 12 hours for the next flight to LA then a connection to Seattle. It got better when they actually frisked my 5 year old at security in LA! She was 5! What could she possibly be hiding in her 2′ frame?

That was a bad one. But it doesn’t even touch what happened this past weekend.

My girls are cheerleaders, and they’re really good. So good, in fact, that the eldest got to go to LA to compete this year with her team. We were excited. It’s the first time we’ve had to fly to a competition and we’d been planning since November.

As the 21st of March approached I made the necessary arrangements for our additional day in LA. We thought it would be fun to arrive a day early and see Santa Monica and Venice Beach. I booked a hotel and reserved a car. Everything was sorted and ready.

Things went well through the border line up at Peace Arch. We flew out of Bellingham airport with little difficulty and landed in Seattle on time. Since the travel agent booked us a flight that had a 4 hour stop over (ugh) in Seattle we went to grab some food and hang out. While eating we made the plan that we would wait out our 4 hour layover at the proper gate for our next flight. We hopped on the wee train and headed to the main terminal.

Once there, we scoped out a good, comfy spot, took off our shoes and loaded up Netflix. Within 3 minutes my 13 year old said “they just called our names over the PA system!”

The Alaska Airline lady called us “final boarding call”.

WTF?

We bolted 2 gates over to learn that our flight had been bumped up 2 hours and they closed the doors behind us! That was a close call. I didn’t receive an itinerary change from the travel agent. Weird.

Upon arriving in LA we caught the Hertz shuttle, stood in line for our rental for 45 minutes only to find out that, in America, you have to leave a $200 credit card deposit to rent a car. No mention of that was made when I booked through the Hertz customer service 1-800 line the day before.

The Hertz guy suggested I have someone use their card to make the deposit for me. I said I could have my parents do it. I’d have to call them. He mentioned they’d have to be there in person. Huh? If I’d done it all over the internet or phone they credit card deposit would not have been “in person”.

Now we’re stranded at LAX at 11pm. Awesome.

Thankfully a friend in LA saved us the next day and, for that, we will be eternally grateful. Needless to say Santa Monica etc was out for the Friday. No car, no beach.

Our friend gave us a lift to our downtown hotel, the Marriott which, by the way, does not have free WIFI. For $160/night you have to pay an additional $9.95 for WIFI. Super.

She then dropped us in Hollywood where we got to do some super fun sight-seeing and we learned about the LA public transit system which we began using to get around.

Saturday and Sunday went relatively smoothly since we were at the competition the entire time. The people we were with were great so they made things a lot of fun.

Monday was Disneyland. What can I say? It was awesome!

We got home from DL at about midnight and I packed everything for an early start. Though our plane didn’t leave til 4:20 we decided to get to the airport early then head out to Santa Monica. By this point the girls were pretty skeptical that we’d make it to the beach at all but I was determined!

The plan was to store our bags at the airport then jump on the #3 bus to SM, shop, beach etc then get back to the airport. Well, I guess since 911 airports in the States no longer store bags. Super!

The Alaska Airlines woman had the suggestion that we go to the LAX Marriott and have them store the bags instead. Free shuttle to the Marriott, bus to Santa Monica and we were finally at the beach!

I’d looked up the Pier and read:

There is no admission to enter the Santa Monica Pier. If you are interested in the amusement park, Pacific Park does not charge upon entry.
Thinking that meant that there was no charge, I was surprised to find out that it was $5/ride. Not exorbitant but still…
We had a lot of fun at the Pier though and on the beach. We took a ton of photos and were able to get my youngest her Tom’s shoes. Her only purchase goal on the entire trip.
Heading back, we had lots of time to grab our bags and get to the airport. Here’s where it gets really great!
Upon check in we were told that flight time had been changed to 3:10pm from 4:20pm and that the doors had just closed. (no itinerary change was sent for this either :(
We missed it. Not only that, the next flight was full and the 7pm had only 3 seats. Though we managed to get those 3 seats we were told that the flight from Seattle to Bellingham at 11pm was also booked and that we would have to spend the night in SeaTac if they couldn’t get us on standby.
I’m sure you can connect the dots and work out how karma was killing us on this trip. Of course, we didn’t make the standby.  2 people didn’t show up and we needed 3 seats. We had to bunk down in the airport to wait for our 8am flight out.
Sleeping in the airport when you’re 20 and backpacking is no big deal. Sleeping in the airport with a 10 year old and a 13 year old is a BIG, BIG deal. We were freezing, hungry, exhausted.
The silver lining is this though; my girls were amazing! They didn’t complain. There were a few tears but no tantrums or overly dramatic behaviour. Just an acceptance that, as long as we’re together, we’re ok. I’m so proud of them.
That’s the story. I don’t want to tell it again. I don’t love LA and it’s going to be a while before I board another plane. I just want to stay home for a while now.
Do you have a dreadful travel story? Add it in the comments! Misery loves company ;)