Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly in Air Travel

We have found ourselves traveling a lot over the past few years.  Traveling itself isn't exciting at all.  Getting "there" is, of course.  But getting yourself to an airport along with your kids and luggage and carry-ons, through check in and security and then waiting for the plane to arrive, being on the plane for
X number of hours, then off the plane, through luggage pick up and customs is all rather tedious.  The best that can be said for it is that if "nothing happens" you've had a good trip.

Our most recent travel from Korea to the US-Mexico-US to Korea included a few memorable moments, however.   These are the times that test your patience.

Everyone deals with delays now and then.  We had a bit of a delay leaving Cozumel to arrive in Minneapolis where my brother-in-law, who lives literally 10 minutes from the airport, was poised to pick us up.  We were confident he'd check for delays and not have to wait too long for us.  However, upon our arrival with other delayed international flights, the line through customs was insanely long.  It wove through all the usual maze, then around a corner, and down the hall and then halted.  That's where we picked it up.  Some poor little 4 year old girl who had begun asking for water on the plane, was an hour later (and still in the hallway) begging and crying for water.  I finally mentioned to her mother that there must be a bathroom up ahead.  She "excused" her way through the line with the little girl, never to be seen again.  We were the lucky ones not having a connecting flight to catch.  But tempers flared when we all discovered that only 4 customs people were working the line of hundreds of people trying to process at the same time.  Finally, 2+ hours later, we made it through customs, only to realize that my brother-in-law was long gone and we had no phone or phone number.  Eventually we found a way to contact him, and he came to get us.  A 7 PM arrival had turned into 10 PM.  Patience!

That particular customs line beat out even our first arrival to Russia in 2004 when for no particular reason a customs line closed at the height of processing an international flight and everyone had to "merge" into one line.

But customs lines aren't the only potential for "eventful" travel.  So, too, mechanical problems.
Our flight back to Korea from Detroit had its own problems.  After an announced delay of 3 hours we finally made it on to our plane.  Everyone was buckled up having listened to the safety information, but the plane didn't move.  Turns out there was a mechanical problem with the plane.  So we waited.  Our 3 PM flight, that had turned into a 6 PM flight (with hopes of dinner being served by 7:30 PM) turned into a sitting-at-the-gate-until 9 PM flight as we waited for the repair (I guess that makes dinner about 10:30 PM).  Needless to say, the natives were restless and mighty hungry by take-off.  So, our 12 hour flight turned into a 15 hour flight.  All of this is  unfortunate, of course, but the hardest part became the arrival in Korea.  Public transportation closes at midnight, so an entire international flight of people needed to get to their destinations.  Thankfully, the airline arranged for special busing for everyone.  We, however, had pre-arranged for a van to pick us up.  The poor van driver went from a 7:30 PM pick-up to a 1:30 AM pick-up of his customers.  We were mighty anxious to get off the plane, get our luggage, and get home.  But, alack, it still was not to be as simple as that.  There was a mechanical problem with the luggage compartment and they couldn't get all the luggage out right away - including ours.  So, we waited about 20 minutes at the carousel for our precious luggage.  We were very happy to see the van driver waiting to pick us up at 1:30 in the morning.

As for patience. . .  I say "What are you going to do?"  Brent says "Are you kidding me?"