May 2, 2016

Travel tales: Assorted Injuries + the longest day

The Chase family recently had an incredible vacation. Five days in Florida, exploring the mammoth campuses of the Disney World parks. Then, it was down to the British Virgin Islands for another five full days aboard our own catamaran, island hopping at our leisure. 12 of us altogether on this whole adventure. Kids age 2-9, and we all got along!

It was all amazing, as outlined in the videos below! 

But seriously. Let’s be real. No one wants to hear about the picture perfect. They want disaster scenarios. So, here’s as close as we got:
  • One finger crushing injury in a hotel door. Six stitches for my son on that front. Hallelujah for good extended health, ‘cause who wants to have to pay for the US medical system?!*
  • One MCL injury, adding yet another knee damage story to my sister’s life-long list of leg traumas.**
  • One five year-old who melted down so hard it required complete extraction from a Disney park and a return to the hotel for a day, to settle their overloaded sensory system.***

And here: some specifics about one epic day of travel in the middle of it all, with one small piece of luggage that caused big headaches. Read this from the perspective of ‘here’s how to barely make a flight’ despite best intentions.

1          1. When it’s four a.m. and an airline employee tells you a piece of your luggage can be gate-checked (a paddle in a case, in this situation), don’t believe them. Give them your money and check it.

2.   When you’ve been through a 90-minute security line-up and your flight leaves in 20 minutes and ONLY THEN does a TSA agent says you can’t take that paddle on the plane, and you’ll have to go back to the airline counter, don’t argue. It wastes precious seconds. Just nod, accept that you might miss your flight (pro-tip, being nice to the TSA means they might help you through the line when you come back), say goodbye to your family, and run like hell back to the airline counter.
Two years in a row, this same
paddle bag, via the same airport,
has caused me grief. Cursed?  

3.   To try and save your ass, tell the airline counter staff they have an impossible question to figure out in the next 30 seconds:
a.       My paddle needs to be checked. If I, as a passenger MUST travel with my luggage, as per FAA rules, and they choose to put my paddle on the next flight in three hours, then so be it. BUT:
b.       My main luggage is ALREADY under the plane departing in (checks watch) 17 minutes.
c.       I have a connecting flight at the airport, so if I miss THIS flight, I probably miss that one, too. SO, do you as airline staff:
                                                    i. Delay the early morning flight long enough to take my luggage off, missed connections be damned, or
                                                                             ii. Delay the early morning flight long enough to check my fu**ing paddle, and let me run for the plane?
     4. When option ii. is accepted, run like Hell again, back to the security zone. Get quick access courtesy of kind TSA agent who had my description and was expecting me.

      5. Sweet talk a few passengers in front of you at this point, to whip through the body scanner. Run like hell again. 
      6. Thank Jesus Allah Buddha that the shuttle train from one terminal to the other is arriving just as you run up to the platform.

           7. Run like Hell some more to get to your gate once you get off the train.

      8. Smile sweetly and say thank you to the gate agents when you slide up to the gate at 6:11 a.m. for your 6:11 a.m. departure time.

      9.  Acknowledge your family’s delight and relief to see you stepping on to the same plane as them!

I’ll spare the rest of the details of the day, but:

1. All that rush was for nothing as our next connecting flight was delayed by several hours, much to the delight of the parents in the group who now had to entertain a buncha kids in a boring airport terminal for the interim.  

2. The paddle DID NOT make it to that connecting airport as or where expected, thus forcing yet further arrangements to ensure the paddle was found, and delivered to the next plane.

3. All the waiting around was for a 24-minute flight.

4. Even at the final destination, the paddle didn’t show. A lost baggage claim was filled in at this point, and we said goodbye to airports**** as we headed for our final destination, Tortola, BVI. Flip flops on, feet up, sand, sun, snorkeling, family time. Ahhhhhhhhh.

*The wrapped up finger turned into an all-access golden ticket for my son and anyone associated with him when he went back to Disney later in the same day.
** The knee issue remains as-yet unresolved, as Universal Health Care doesn’t always move at any sort of speedy pace.
***The five-year-olds’ day at the hotel did her introverted soul a world of good. Smooth sailing for remaining days at Disney.

****Paddle was found, I was reunited with it at said airport one week later. 
The Disney Vid!! 

The BVI Vid!