Sunday, June 21, 2009

To fly or not to fly (Addison's first attempt at air travel)

Disclaimer: This is a lengthy, but entertaining (I think) post.

This weekend was to be Addison's first time flying. She, Dustin, and I were headed to Chicago for a weekend social visit. On previous trips to Chicago, we've always driven. It was just easier since we could load up the car with pretty much every baby necessity possible. And Bubba could come with us, which was a huge plus. You know, since he, too, is our child! He's never flown on a plane and I don't think we'd ever try. But, Addison is currently at an age (hopefully temporarily) where anything much longer than 2 hours in a car is not very pleasant, hence the decision to fly.

Everything was good to go. I got a whole bunch of good tips for flying with a toddler from a friend, who has flown over a dozen times with her 20 month old, and called the airline 3 times about various questions I had. Mentally and physically, I was prepared. Not to mention that Addison and I had been talking about airplanes for weeks, in anticipation of this flight. She was very excited to get on a plane!

Thursday night, 12 hours before our flight was to take off for the big city, Dustin sprang something on me. We'd been car shopping for a few months and just that late afternoon, he found a great deal on the exact car we wanted. In Chicagoland. I mean, does that sound like a sign or what? To avoid a $1400 shipping fee, we could drive to Chicago the next day to pick it up (and trade in our old car). Drive to Chicago. No thank you. So, in the end, we compromised. Dustin would drive to Chicago and Addison and I would fly. Scary thought flying alone with Addison for her first time, but not nearly as scary as what I thought 6 hours in the car with her might be.

Dustin left Friday at 4:30am (the guy has some crazy adrenaline). Addison and I arrived to the airport shortly after 8am. Flight was to take off around 9:30. Weather in Columbus was bad. Terrible thunderstorms woke me up at 5am and had just subsided. Whew, because flying in bad weather is not my cup of tea. Addison was enthralled with the airplanes and kept saying "Plane fly. Addison plane."

Our flight was delayed 10 minutes. Not bad. That 10 minutes quickly changed to 30 minutes. Bad weather in Chicago. Addison was wondering if we were ever going to get on the airplane.

30 minutes turned to an hour and then to 2. Worry began to set in. Oh, and let me throw in there that Dustin had safely arrived to Chicago and was at the car dealership by this time. Go figure.

Addison greatly exceeded my expectations with her behavior. She was such a good, patient little girl. She was being her comical self and making people laugh, which was coming at a great time given that many of these people had been delayed for several hours.

Finally, it was time to board! We were very excited, but I was leery. The monitor said we weren't taking off for another hour. Why were we boarding?

We quickly found out that they needed our gate for another plane and we had to board in order to leave the gate. As soon as we left the gate, our pilot announced that O'Hare shut down all runways due to severe weather warnings. An Englishman came to my rescue with a "lolly". He had a young child with him, too.

2 hours later, we were still on the ground in Columbus. Addison was amazing. We were almost 2 hours past her nap time and hadn't had lunch. (She ate breakfast in the car on our way to the airport.) But, yet, she was a perfect angel. People even commented how great she was doing. She was up and down a lot, but stayed right next to our seat. I was armed with a plethora of snacks (thank goodness) and some books and toys that kept her occupied.

We used A LOT of hand sanitizer. I think she touched every single surface possible. Typically, this would have freaked me out, so it took some adjusting on my part to stay calm.

She was very kind and also offered some to those around us. They declined.

Then she did it. She pooped. And it smelled. We were on a small jet with no air circulation. Oh, did it smell. I had no option but to change her in the airplane bathroom. Have you ever seen a changing table in an airplane? It's small. Very, very small. This was the only time she cried. I made a quick change and we were back in our seats.

Everyone was getting very restless so the flight attendant made a trip up the aisle offering drinks and snacks. I opted for something that I never opt for, just to give Addison a little variety during this trying time. I ordered cran-apple juice. It's red. And yes, that's an important fact.
Because Addison was on my lap, I couldn't use the seat-back tray. The nice foreign gentleman next to us allowed us to share his tray. Addison snacked on her raisins and I would occasionally hand her the juice. Then, it happened. Addison spontaneously reached for the almost-full cup of juice and knocked it over, spilling every last bit on the man's white shirt and suit pants. He yelped and half the plane turned to look. I quickly tried to sop up the liquid with napkins as he pushed my hand away. I apologized over and over and over. I don't think the man spoke much English, but seemed to understand and accept my apology. I offered him $20 for dry cleaning and he refused. The guy next to me made an observation, saying "This just isn't your best day." Was it that obvious? I mean, thanks, guy.

O'hare finally opened one runway. Hundreds of planes were vying for a spot in line. We took a vote. Stay on the plane and maybe get cleared for take off in the next couple hours or deplane and go from there. Deplaning won the vote and I was more than pleased. I retrieved Addison's stroller from valet and she fell asleep in it within a minute.

I had 2 options. 1) Stay at the airport while she naps and if the plane doesn't leave in that time, call it a day and jump ship or 2) wait it out until God knows when. I chose option 1. 8 hours after arriving at the airport, Addison and I went home. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I was nearing my breaking point and Addison probably wasn't far behind. I didn't want to completely ruin her image of traveling in an airplane. It just wasn't meant to be. One day, we will try this all again....
You may be wondering how Dustin made out. Well, he bought the car (for me). Once he found out that we weren't making it to Chicago, he drove the 6 hours back home. He arrived late that night and was exhausted. But, the funny thing is that neither of us were so exhausted that we couldn't spend 2 hours organizing my new ride! Holy cow, the thing has so many compartments. It is an obsessive compulsive organizer's dream come true! I love my new monstrous truck car. Thanks, baby!


Kristin said...

Wow. You left a lot of that out on your txts:) What an adventure!!! We ended up getting bumped and took the overnight flight. So, the car is really nice! So exciting!! I think Dustin made the right decision:)

The Flying Pinto said...

Hi, I just happened upon your site...through google alerts...the word Flight Attendant. I have a FA blog...anyway, your daughter is so cute...reminds me of my Lucy...about same age, seems like the same personality type! I am so sorry to hear about her first flying experience. It sounds like it all worked out for the best. Had you gone in that weather...looked like a small plane? Her first experience might have been scary/bumpy.

Your friend gave you great advice, seemed like you were prepared! When you travel again e-mail me if you have any questions, I can help: )Take care, and congrats on your new car!

Beth said...

haha! the great plan adventure of 2009! good thing addie is such a sweetie or it could have been a lot worse.
lets get together soon!

Anonymous said...

love the car! miss not being online right now except at a wifi ya!