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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

That one time we missed our flight to Kauai

We just had to check one bag. This is why we only bring carry-ons, I thought to myself as I resisted the urge to tap my foot impatiently. Apparently, lunch breaks had been coordinated poorly because there were only two United representatives serving a line that wound its way clear to the door. Matt and I tried not to worry, but it was hard to stop the anxiety from building as we watched seconds tick away. By the time we finally reached the counter, there were only 42 minutes until takeoff. At LAX, that meant we were three minutes too late.

So many things had gone wrong to bring us to that point: The glitch with our boarding passes when we printed them that morning. The phone call that delayed us as we were walking out the door. The excruciatingly slow gas station whose "pay at the pump" feature was broken. The realization, 15 minutes down the road, that we left a few very important things at home and had to turn back. The bank robbery in Long Beach that had freeways backed up for miles. The thirty minutes it took to travel five blocks from the parking garage to the terminal. The abnormally long lines to simply check a bag. Just to name a few.

Had just one of those things gone right, we would have made it. But they didn't, and there we were--stranded with our bags on the wrong side of the security checkpoint, doomed to watch our much-anticipated flight take off without us.

And did I mention that we got a killer deal on this vacation? Because we did. We saved just over $100 each month throughout our first year of marriage to pay for an anniversary trip, and we found our flights+hotel+rental car for less than we had stashed away. And just like most amazing deals, this one was non-refundable and non-transferable. Translation? The only flight that we were authorized to go on was the one we weren't boarding. I could hardly believe that out of the 100+ flights I've been on in the past three years, this was the one that we missed.

At that point, a lot of couples might have been really upset with each other. But as we were turned away from the bag check-in, we just sort of shrugged our shoulders and, after exchanging a few "I'm sorry--it's my fault" and "No, really--it's my fault" comments, went to work. All we could really do at that point was pray for a miracle and beg the airline for mercy. Matt hopped in the insanely long ticketing line while I dialed numbers and sat on hold. Four hours later, the only solutions we'd been presented with were 1: go standby on the next flight out (the next day) and pay the difference between the price we'd paid and the last-minute ticket price or 2: just buy a whole new last-minute ticket from another airline. Both options would cost over $1,000.

"They want to charge us 10 arms and 3 legs," I told Matt. "And we don't even have that many arms!"

"Plus I really like our legs," he added.

So we decided to give it one last shot. Matt and I agreed that if we had to, we would just buy new tickets and have a great time and never think about the extra expense again. But we hoped it wouldn't come to that as we reentered the ticketing line for the umpteenth time that afternoon. Luckily for us, there had been a change in staff and this time, we got an angel.

Long story short, she ended up charging us just the basic change fee and switching our itineraries back one day. After kissing the ground she walks on, we headed over to the USO to recuperate and make lots of phone calls to change our other reservations. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love the USO? That deserves a whole post of its own.) Then--added bonus!--we had a sleepover at the Rozsas' house and they even baked us a cake. As we were going to bed that night, I turned to Matt and said, "You know what? This was a really good day." And it was.

Matt and I left extra early for the airport the next morning. We were, understandably, a little nervous that something crazy would happen and we'd miss our flight again. It felt eerily like Groundhog Day as we drove down the freeway, parked our car, made our way to the terminal, and hopped in line to check our bag all over again. Only this time, the line was much shorter, they took our bag, and sent us skipping to the security checkpoint which we had stared longingly at for hours the day before.

As soon as we made it through security, I turned to Matt (who was still putting his shoes on his feet) and exclaimed with a celebratory fist pump, "Yes! It worked!" Meaning, the world didn't conspire against us and we actually get to board the plane and go on our trip now! Of course, this made the TSA worker whip his head around and give me the side-eye. Realizing the potential other meanings of what I just said, I awkwardly added, "We made it in enough time to grab a snack before the flight!" And then smiled at my TSA friend as we rode the escalator to the gates. Hooray!

Upon boarding the plane, Matt and I were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves with our own row. We immediately stretched out and prepared for a relaxing flight. Less than six hours later, the island was in view and we were landing in paradise.

After stepping off the plane, we picked up our rental car, checked into our hotel, and promptly changed into our swimsuits. Then we headed to Lydgate Beach Park for a late afternoon walk and our first dip in the ocean.

That night, we watched the sunset from our balcony and went to bed early to prepare for the next morning's adventure. Our Kauai vacation had finally begun!


  1. Oh my gosh, that sounds like my worst nightmare! Ahhhh! I would hate to miss that flight. That is an understatement. I would be screaming and pulling my hair out, that would be SO frustrating waiting in that line after everything that had already gone wrong that day. UGH! Whew - calming down now. That is amazing it all worked out and didn't cost too much extra to change things. Wow!! And it looks like it was totally worth it when you got there.

    I also have to say how envious I am that your flight was only six hours! That is amazing. We traveled 17 hours total on our marathon journey to get to hawaii, 12 in the air. No wonder people on the East coast never go there. Haha.

  2. Oh hey, I just noticed you're carrying that camera bag slash purse. How do you like it? Klane still hasn't consented to let me get one... but I still really want one.

  3. ::boom::

    That was the sound of my head exploding from cute overload.

    I'm so glad you guys got there, even if it was a day late and a few dollars poorer.

  4. Oh my what a nightmare. I don't think I would have been able to keep a cool head. Kudos to you and Matt. Btw, I keep forgetting where did you find your cute bathsuitss? I especially liked the one shoulder piece.

  5. Sometime I will tell you about the time we missed our 25th Anniversary flight to Bora Bora! Yikes, the drama was not a fun experience. It also ended happily and with a kind soul extending some mercy. Love, love, love the Islands. Can't wait to see your adventures. Are you loving your camera. It takes some time getting the hang of it, but Wow! Love the Pics! You two and your amazing adventures and this one started off with a bang!

  6. Sharla-On your way to Bora Bora? Holy cow, I need to hear that one! And we are LOVING our new camera, although I think that sunset picture is the only one I've posted from it yet. I took a couple photography courses in college so it's fun to put that old knowledge to work. But sometimes it's just easier to cart around a small point and shoot... especially when swimming haha. I was terrified of taking the DSLR to the beach when I knew we'd both be in the ocean!

  7. I'm glad that fate let you get on the plane the next day. I think you travel more than any other person I know. I say 'know' like I've met you. Which I haven't. Which leads me to my next question...When are you traveling to Colorado?

  8. Ang-17 hours?! That is one insanely long flight. Hawaii is worth it, though, eh? :-) And I've really liked the purse/bag so far. Although I do find myself wishing it was a little bit cuter sometimes... but then I remember that my alternative is a regular ol' camera bag and I like it again haha.

    Nina-Thanks! The one-shoulder tankini is a Carmen Marco Valvo. I'm sort of in love with it.

    Tobi-Good question! We'd hoped to come out to Colorado one last time before Steve & Jodie leave but that doesn't look like it's going to happen at this point. My little sister, on the other hand, goes there all the time now!

  9. You guys are amazing that you can keep your cool and even joke around is such a situation. I trait I wish I had! Anyway, was it possibly May 13th when your initial flight was scheduled?? Kenneth & I flew in to LAX that day for Emily Nance's wedding, and while we were driving to our hotel we were stuck in traffic because of a bank robber they were trying to catch...we saw machine guns and men in Army suits all over the place! If that wasn't the day, well, there must be a lot of bank robberies in Long Beach! I'm so glad you were able to find your miracle at the airport!

  10. Amy- Yep, that was the one! What are the odds? I wish I'd known you were flying in, I could have welcomed you at the airport while I sat on hold haha :-)

  11. I laughed at your "Yes, It Worked!" comment to the Security guard.

    Never say "Bomb" on an airplane! (Greg Focker)

  12. I'm so happy you had such a great anniversary trip! Kauai is amazing!


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