Monday, December 25, 2006

It Begins

According to my parents’ original itinerary, Bump should be picking them up at the airport right now.

Instead, he’s going to pick up their luggage.

As you may recall, thanks to my Evil Genius Brother, my parents are coming for a week. They would have left yesterday, but that’s a whole other story involving my mother and a commitment to teach Sunday School for the month December. (That sound you hear is me sighing heavily.)

So, original itinerary: arrival at National by 2pm today.

I should point out that establishing the first itinerary was no easy task. Apart from the whole Sunday School thing (Did I mention it was a class of one student? Trade your days with the January teacher, gah!), my mother frets and dithers about making her connection in Minneapolis every time she flies. It’s not just a nagging concern she has, I’m talking “losing some sleep over it” worry. (That was me sighing again, accompanied now by eye rolling.)

Yesterday on the phone, in order to put her a bit more at ease, I tried to explain that even if they did miss their connection, there are tons flights from Minneapolis to the DC area, and they would still get here without problem. Not only are there multiple flights to National every day, they could catch a plane to Dulles or even BWI as a backup.

My mother called me from Minneapolis this morning, and I was certain she was about to tell me they had missed their connection and had no idea what to do. Instead, she said the flight was overbooked and asked if they should consider volunteering their seats for free tickets. Since they’re coming again once Akutaq emerges, Bump and I advised them to take a later flight. A few minutes later Mom called back to say they had been given two $300 vouchers and first-class seats on a flight to Dulles that left in two hours.

Pretty sweet deal, huh? Granted, the set-dollar amount vouchers are slightly less fabulous than round-trip tickets, but I still thought they made out pretty well. They wouldn’t drink as much booze on the flight to Dulles as an Unpregnant Me would, but they promised to have a drink or two (it’s free, you know. And they’re Dutch).

Yeah, you knew that was too easy, right?

The flight to Dulles was cancelled. Not because it wasn’t full (as Bump and I speculated) but because Northwest Airlines didn’t have a flight crew available. Mom’s gate agent suggested it was due to an ongoing labor dispute with the pilots, and an entire planeful of Christmas Day travelers were scrambling to make other arrangements. Two ticket agents were helping as many people as they could, and long lines of people waited for phones to other reservation agents.

Mom and Dad are now scheduled to land at 10:10 this evening at National. Mom is regretting her decision to give up their seats in the first place, while Dad still insists they won the jackpot.

Incidentally, I’m with Dad. If someone offered you $75 per hour to sit in an airport, would you do it? It’s better than the meat packing plant pays, is all I’m sayin’. Plus, the initial deal of a two-hour wait for a first-class flight and $600 was a no-brainer, and it was impossible to predict the cancellation.

Now, sitting in an airport isn’t the greatest way to spend Christmas Day, particularly when you’re waiting to see your only grandchild. But there are plenty of restaurants and shopping options at MSP, so it’s not a terrible place to be stuck for several hours. My parents took one small tote bag as a carry-on, so they aren’t lugging around tons of bags. And as I pointed out to foreshadow our trip next Christmas, they don’t have two screaming kids with them.

“Yeah, I just have Dad,” Mom replied.

Somehow, I’m certain this is all my brother’s fault.


Anonymous said...

I suspect it's too late now, but next time (assuming we haven't left the country), you can give them our number and we can give them a change of venue while they wait for their rescheduled flight....

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am a pilot for NWA and I can promise you it was not due to any labor dispute with the pilot group. The real issue is there are not enough crews to fly all the holiday flights. There are still 400 pilots on furlough and everyone is flying their behinds off.

Anonymous said...

Hope they had good books to read. Merry Christmas

Lumpyheadsmom said...

Hi Anonymous Pilot! Thanks for clarifying, I'm sure ticket agents are eager to give frustrated passengers someone else to be angry at, and I'm not sure my mom hears everything right in the first place.

Bozoette said...

I hope they arrived unscathed and that you're enjoying Boxing Day with them. I know that if it had been me, I would have had to buy another suitcase to hold everything that I bought elsewhere in that airport.

Gidge said...

Man they give the best perks for giving up your seats now days.
I remember back in the day they'd just offer "drink vouchers".

Becky said...

Psst! Happy New Year!