We had a pleasant but stressful outbound flight to Chicago from Orlando to visit some family. It was stressful because even though we arrived with an hour and 1/2 before take off it took us so long to get through security and we were almost the last to board the plane. Since we were flying Southwest I had to seat the two oldest kids next to strangers and pray that they would be nice people and hope that the children were well behaved. L wanted Daddy only and I was so afraid we were going to be 'that family' with the screaming baby but thankfully he slept on Hubby's lap most of the way there. The big kids did sit with nice folks and they later complimented me on how well the kids did. But even the stress involved in this flight, it was a dream compared to the return flight home.
Since it took so long to get through airport security in Orlando we decided that we'd make sure to get to the airport in Chicago extra early, ha! Our flight was scheduled to depart Midway at 4:45pm. Once we got through security we saw that the flight would be delayed. We were disappointed but figured we'd try to make the most of it and have a good attitude. I strolled Lewis around to watch the planes take off and land and the big kids made friends, played together and watched TV at the gate.
(Aww, we are all still smiling!)
Apparently the plane had issues getting out of Providence and so the flight was rescheduled to take off at 7:00... then 7:45. The incoming plane finally landed at 7:45 and our flight was rescheduled again for 8:30. When we finally boarded the plane the kids were exhausted and L was past his bedtime. I was thinking that they might all sleep on the plane for the two hours back to Orlando. We got settled in, taxied to the runway and waited. I gave L the bottle and he started to get sleepy. Then we waited some more...and more... Finally the pilot came on the PA system and said that there was a malfunction with a hydraulic part so we had to go back to the gate to fix it, but it would only take about 20-30 minutes. I looked at Hubby and said, 'that means at least an hour.'
So there was no way L was sleeping now so the kids watched DVDs on the laptop and sure enough, an hour later they came back on and said they'd fixed the part but now they had to test it. Thirty minutes later they came back and said that the part was not fixable and we would have to get off the plane.
Now it was after 10pm and L was super fussy and the kids were tired, though they were doing a good job handling all of this mess. After getting off the plane and walking around L fell asleep in my arms and I continued to hold him as I stood at the counter asking what we should do next. We couldn't go back to our family because they'd returned the rental van. There were no other flights out at this time of night and we needed to get the kids to bed. We asked if we they could compensate us for a hotel room in Chicago and put us on a plane the next morning. They said they could not, and that they would not be giving anyone any kinds of reimbursement. I could not believe it. The people at the counter told us that cots would be available on Concourse A and I just laughed in astonishment!
After an hour or so of wondering what we should do, my back was killing me from holding L while he slept and cried off and on. The steward was kind enough to find our stroller on the plane and bring it to us so he would have somewhere safe to sleep. The big kids and some other kids they met were all running back and forth on the people movers (something I'd never have let them do normally but under the circumstances we said, 'whatever. go for it kids').
They had to find a similar plane to ours and were able to but since the flight had been delayed so long our pilot had to leave and we were left stuck at Midway. Several times I said to Hubby, 'Honey, this plane is not leaving tonight, we just need to get a hotel here and get the kids to bed.' However, our bags were still on the plane and if we left we would have to pay for the hotel on our own and even purchase new plane tickets the next day. We felt like airport hostages and we were talking with fellow passengers and bonding like we were all in some fraternity hazing or something.
After midnight a new pilot came, greeted by cheers from all of us in the terminal. But then the baggage still needed to be transferred to the new plane. Southwest attendants came out and finally did give $100 airline vouchers good for a future flight. Our kids were still awake but loopy, watching Cartoon Network. I was encouraged because other passengers were telling us what a good job we'd done for how well they handled it. Others told us, 'I feel like I'm having a bad experience, but then I look at you guys and you are having to do it with three small kids.'
We finally boarded the new flight around 1 in the morning and the kids finally were able to lay down and fall asleep for a little while. Hubby and I took turns holding L, walking him in the aisle, trying to keep him sleeping and resting for a bit ourselves.
We finally landed at 4:15am, 8 hours after the original schedule.
Since we had a friend drop us off at the airport and keep our van for us while we were gone we had to call her at 4:30 in the morning, ugh. From there we got some coffee for Hubby so he could stay away to drive us home. We finally got home home at 7:15am Tuesday morning when our plan was to be home by 10pm Monday night. We all got in bed and slept until noon and when we woke we didn't know if we should eat breakfast or lunch.
So we used Tuesday to recoup because Wednesday was packing day because Thursday was moving out day and Friday was moving in day! Just a bit of a hectic week.
But the main thing was that we made it home safely and not on a plane that was going to malfunction in the air. I did call Southwest and they did send us $400 more in vouchers to use on another flight with them in the next year. So now we are looking forward to flying somewhere for our anniversary or doing something fun to erase the memory of pulling an all-nighter at airports with three kids! Whew!