How did you bring in the new year? Celebrating the end of the old and beginning of the new with your loved ones, the way I had planned? God had other plans for me.
For those of you who do not know, I am a flight attendent, one of the perks of the job is being able to fly on flights with open seats in the cabin, we call it 'non revving'. My grandson was visiting with his father for Christmas break, near Pittsburgh, PA. J's father flew out to CA to pick him up; I had told my DIL that I would 'non rev' with him back to CA.
Originally, the plan was to take him home early in the week, before New Year's. Upon checking the open seating, I discovered the best option for us was to fly out on the first flight New Year's Eve morning. It was the perfect plan.....meet grandson at PIT 430a Dec 31; fly to Phoenix then on to Palm Springs, meet his mom & my son at the airport then get back on a flight to Phoenix then on to Charlotte, being home by 10p Dec 31.
You all know what they say about the best laid plans.
I flew to PIT on Wed, Dec 30 & had breakfast with one of my long time friends there; spent time with some other friends and my daughter who still lives in western PA. It was nearly 1a before we were finished with our visiting so I had her take me to the airport, as I had to be there by 430a to meet up with J. We went through security, stopped at McDs to get breakfast then headed to the gate, only to discover we probably would not be getting on the flight as all the seats were taken by revenue passengers. We tried to get on the next one, a couple hours later but again, no seats for us. The family military room was open by 10a so 'J' and I went there, as I have those privileges. 'J' immediately went to sleep on the couch and I dozed off & on in a chair. The next flight to Phoenix was not until early evening, and I was praying we could get seats on that flight. By now, I knew I was not going to be bringing in the new year with my hubby. We did not get out of PIT that day, spent the night in the airport. I have to say, 'J' was a real trooper, to be 7yrs old and stuck in an airport, dragging his suitcase (Praise God for whoever invented wheels on suitcases!) from gate to gate. We went to the kids play area where he was able to run around and play with some other boys his age. After a quick night of sleep, we were able to get on a flight to Las Vegas so my son drove the 2+ hours to pick up his stepson. We met at 9a, gave him their Christmas gifts & I headed back to the ticket counter, to get a boarding pass, went through security and went to the gates. I only wanted to get anywhere east of the Mississippi.....Charlotte (home), Philadelphia, Washington DC, it didn't matter, anywhere was closer to home than Las Vegas! After hours of watching flights going without me, I finally was able to get a seat on a flight to Ft Lauderdale, FL. Through it all, I am praying and knowing God is going to get me home. We arrived in Ft Lauderdale around 1a, I had slept on the plane but was still exhuasted plus, I had only brought 1 change of clothes with me. My daughter had given me a couple Pittsburgh Steeler shirts my husband had her pick up for me for Christmas so I was at least able to put on a clean shirt.
What I didn't remember, when jumping on the first open seat on any flight out of Las Vegas, was that Ft Lauderdale is where cruise ships dock. There was not a seat on an airplane to be had, not for a 'non rev' passenger like myself or even to be bought! There were no seats on the Amtrak trains but, there were seats on Greyhound. The next bus to Charlotte was leaving at 10p. If I didn't get on a plane, I was going to be on that bus!
I had one hope, one of my company's planes was flying a flight to DC and I had priority on that flight. Imagine my disappointment, at 540p when the gate agent called 2 other 'nonrev' passengers to get on that plane. I tried to remind this agent I should be on it but he was having none of it. To his defense, several flights had cancelled, from other airlines, so they were trying to accomodate those passengers on already full/oversold flights. He was definitly earning his pay that day! I did not get on that flight and had a complete meltdown. I was not looking forward to an 18hour bus ride!
I spoke to another agent and was relieved to find there were seats on a delayed Philly flight. I was getting closer and I have friends near Philly! Imagine my surprise when I was able to get on the flight to Charlotte, that left before that delayed Philly flight! It struck me that when I didn't get on that flt to DC, it was because God had something even better for me.......getting on the DC flight meant I would be sleeping in yet another airport, then trying to get home on Saturday morning. By not getting on that plane to DC, not only did I get home Saturday night but the couple that did get on that DC flt was able to get to their home too!
I learned some valuable lessons during that ordeal, ones that I will write about in the next couple days.