Well, I have much to share about the family reunion but I don't think I can let our day in travel hell go by without me blogging about it. We could have gone to China in the amount of time it took us to get to Virginia. Here is the story...
On the night of the 22nd I decided I would do easy check-in online (a reminder email from United spurred the thought). I log into my United account and low and behold it says the flight is cancelled. Hmm, how could that be? No one told me? Wouldn't they call? I log in to Zeb's United account and see the same information - the flight to Virginia has been cancelled. OK, I better call and see what the scoop is.
I get on the phone and happen to speak to someone with a VERY thick accent. He confirms the flight has been cancelled and offers to reschedule it for me. OK - great. No problem. I tell him I need four seats out to Virginia. He says the only flight he has available is at 5:45am in the morning. Yikes! OK - I guess I have no choice but to take it so I confirm four seats on the flight to Norfork, NC with a layover and connecting to Dulles airport using US Air. I look at the time. It is 11pm and Zeb and I were not ready to go. We had anticipated having some time in the morning to wrap things up but now everything had to be completed before going to bed. Two hours fly by and we are pretty much ready to go. We look at the clock. We have to get up at 3am so we can leave at 4am. I decide to try and sleep for two hours. Zeb decides he'd be better off staying up. The 3am alarm goes off much too soon but I manage to get out of bed.
We arrive at the airport and decide to do curbside checkin for our baggage. Zeb dropped myself, the girls and the luggage off and then set off to park the car. I proceed to get the bags checked and then the man tells me I need to go inside for seat assignments. That should have been my first clue. I went inside and basically they said they could not give us the tickets because United had not "pushed" them over. They sent us back to United. It is now 5:15am and the United agent confirms that whoever did things over the phone did not do them right. She had no choice but to book us on another flight. OK - no choice so we do that. She books us on a flight to Richmond, Virginia via Chicago leaving at 9:50am. OK - but our bags have just been shipped to Dulles without us. They are gone. She advises us to call United's luggage folks and let them know the situation and they should be able to put our luggage on a flight to Richmond and it could even beat us there. OK - sounds reasonable.
We eat at Mcdonald's to kill time. We are tired. We wait until about 9am to look at the departure board only to find out our flight is delayed. Naturally, this will effect our connecting flight. I panic and go to seek some assistance. I get some help from another United agent. She books us on another US Air flight to Pittsburg just in case this one doesn't go. She also books us on the later flight out of Chicago to Richmond. I feel a little better but got teary eyed as she handed us all of our tickets (I get emotional when I'm tired).
The flight leaves about 1 hour later. Kailei fell asleep right away so that made the trip bearable. I caught a few zzz's so I could function but have a killer headache. We make it to Chicago and miss our connecting flight by mere minutes. Sigh.... I ask Zeb to grab the stroller that we checked at the gate and he comes back saying they checked it through to Richmond. No stroller to carry Kailei or our bags. Zeb actually went back to the agent when I insisted he have them check again and he ended up getting yelled out by the agent. Now Zeb doesn't not get mad easy but he was not a happy camper and vowed never to fly United again.
At least we have tickets for the later flight. I wanted confirmation again that these were indeed tickets so I dragged my family to the gate so I could talk to an agent and get seat assignments. He looks at them and asked me what they are. I said, "seats on the next flight." He shakes his head and spends a great deal of time on the computer while I once again sweat it out. Finally, he gives me seats. We go in search of food. Based some great food courts on our walk but can't seem to find them again. Keara had no interest in the food choices we did find. We sit on the floor as there is nowhere else. Zeb finds pizza but the girls don't eat. We are tired. We are grumpy. We manage to find some sort of children's play area for the kids. It was fenced in and all we had to do was watch them. Zeb could barely stand up now he is so tired. I decided to call United to get our luggage out of Washington. Again, I talk to someone with a very thick accent and after considerable difficulty he basically tells me to call back when I get to Richmond. OK.
We hang until our 4pm flight, head towards the gate, look at the departure board and find out this flight has been delayed too! Ugh! We are tired, hungry, and have exhausted everything we could think of to entertain our two year old. We wait and finally it goes.
We get to Richmond. I look for the stroller that was supposedly checked through to this location and they can't find it. OK. I check in with the United luggage person at the airport. She blames the luggage mishap on US Air. "It isn't United's issue", she says. Our car seat and two suitcases are at Dulles airport. I just wanted them with us. I look pathetic so she decides to "do us a favor" by getting the luggage. I was ticked at her attitude but grateful she was at least following through. She loans us a car seat and some toiletries. We pick up the mini-van (the car we requested was not there) and head off in search of food. If you know the east coast, you can't just peer off the highway and see a restaurant. Everything is covered by trees. Somehow we managed to find another McDonald's and a Subway so we grab a bite and head off Williamsburg. We arrive around 10pm that night. My dad tells us how happy he was to have us there and I just broke down and cried. We did make it. No luggage but family members sent t-shirts over for us to sleep in and we would worry about the luggage issue in the morning.
We finally got a call the next day. Good news - our suitcases were being put on a plane and would be delivered to Williamsburg later that afternoon. Bad news - they lost our car seat. Sigh... Fortunately, the car seat and the stroller were located and delivered on a later trip.
I've never been so happy to have a clean pair of underwear. Our vacation begins.