Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Traveling Over The Holidays

For months, we had been warned that Christmas-time travel would be filled with terror: crowds, noise, crowds, traffic, crowds, short tempers and, oh yes, crowds. Air fares would be high. Gasoline prices would be high. Some of those in the crowds would be…well….

But, we had decided that, health concerns at bay, we would get to San Antonio from Indiana and we would get home again in time for the New Year.

It was complicated at this end. Mike and I would travel down together. Zach would come a few days later. Mike and Zach would return home together. I would come a few days later. Mike was traveling free, on credit card points. I was traveling on air line points. Zach’s itinerary involved actual money. And as there are no direct flights to our location, this meant 12 separate reservations.

The airline points were with Delta…..dreaded Delta…Don’t Ever Leaves The Airport Delta…so the rest of the trips needed to coordinate. We ended up with all Delta, all the time.

Delta is the largest Airline Carrier and whatever strengths it might possess, it does NOT have a good PR department. It seems, at least to the casual traveler, that Delta gets it wrong all the time….most delays, most canceled flights, most passenger complaints. But no matter, we steeled ourselves for all of our challenges and drove to the airport a few days before Christmas.

Indianapolis International is a really fine airport. It’s small enough and easy to get around, to find your way. Even little things, like how the restroom faucets always spray warm water when you wash your hands, makes traveling to and from Indianapolis pleasant. However, it takes us about an hour and 20 minutes to get there, get parked and then into the terminal. So our trips have to commence several hours before take –off. And on this day, we anticipated traffic and then parking problems so we left even earlier. Guess what? Light traffic. What else? Lots of open parking in the economy lot. So we were at the gate in plenty of time. Both of our flights were on time or early so the trip was over quickly.

Zach’s first flight was at 8 AM so he said he drove to the airport in the dark and there was no traffic at all. One of his flights was delayed (in Memphis) because of the snow storms farther west. This was the only ‘Delta problem.”

Then, after the Christmas celebration, Mike and Zach returned to Indianapolis. Both flights were on time or early. There was enough room to stow both guitars as well as their carry-ons.
None of us had luggage problems. Staff was pleasant and polite. Sure, there was a little passenger drama (not from us) but it was handled quickly and efficiently.

MY flights back were equally pleasant. The first leg was a 2 ½ hour trip from San Antonio to Detroit, where I would have a 2 hour layover. Although the airplane was only partly full, I got relegated to the Children’s Table, near the back of the ship.

Catty corner on the aisle in front of me was Mom with 18-month-old boy on her lap. He played, had a snack and occasionally he’d play peek-a-boo with anyone who would play. Big brown eyes. Big toothy grin. Adorable. Plus he slept a lot.

Catty corner behind was Mom and Dad with 3 children under 5. One was named Sophie. More on that later.

Directly behind was Mom with her 4-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, who like to spell. And spell. And spell.

All of the children did just fine until the final half hour.

Cute little boy ramped up his peek-a-boo, pairing it with rocking back and forth, into the aisle, back into the seat next to Mom. Mom just let it go unless an attendant was in the aisle.

Mom behind, with the speller, was working hard to keep the kids in tow without bothering neighbors. The games and DVD players were out of juice so they commenced to the question/answer game.

M: You need to turn around and get your seat belt on.
B: Why?
M: Because it’s the rule.
B: Why?
M: Both of you, turn around and get those belts on.
B: Why?
G: It hurts. It’s red. R-E-D.
M: No it doesn’t. You must put it on. What if we crash?
G: I don’t want to.
M: You have to. It’s the rules.
G: He’s touching me.
M: Both of you, don’t you take those belts off.
B: Why?
M: We might run out of gas and crash.
B: Then what?
M: Daddy will be sad if we were to die.
B: No.
G: Waaaaaaa.

Deep breaths from the seat in front of them. But then, from the other corner.

Dad: Sophie, you must sit down.
S: No.
D: Sophie, you need to put on the seat belt.
S: No.
D: Sophie, why are you being difficult?
(Because she’s 3!!!!)
D:Sophie, turn around.
S: No.
D: Sophie, stop kicking that seat.
S: No.
D: Sophie, why are you crying?
(She wasn’t. It was one of those fake whines.)
D: Sophie, what do you want?
(more wailing)
D: Ok, you want to sit on my lap?
S: No.
D: Here, I’ll hold you for a moment……now you must sit there and put on your belt….

Way up in the front, a baby began to cry. That usually happens as the plane descends and the pressure changes. All good signs that the flight is coming to an end. And soon, we were on the ground at Detroit Metro Airport, a former stomping ground for me and my high school buddies.
All of the kiddies and even Sophie’s daddy, made it to Detroit and none of them were headed to Indianapolis.

The last leg of my flight was quick. By sundown, all of us were back home again in Indiana.
We had no big plans for New Year’s Eve. We ended up watching The Apostle, starring Robert Duvall. Amazing film.

And, well rested, we transferred all the birthdays from the old calendar to the new calendar.
And we wonder what 2012 will hold for us all.

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