Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Trip to Arkansas

Eleanor and I had an impromptu visit to Arkansas last week. My grandma, who has been in hospice for over a year, died. E and I flew out for her funeral. For future reference, American Airlines has the best bereavement rates of any of the five airlines I called. Unfortunately, that rate was only available on a flight leaving at midnight. We didn't take that one. We did end up flying American from LA to Little Rock.

We had a couple of hours at Dallas airport, which worked out well. Eleanor really enjoyed the play area, the train, and the obligatory airport ice cream. Dallas airport: two thumbs up.

I was less than impressed with their baggage handling when my bag did not get to the airport when we did. We did get it back 18 hours (and many frustrating phone calls) later.

Thankfully, our gracious hosts let Eleanor use some of Silas's pj's.

Eleanor and Silas had a great time playing the next morning.

Eleanor really enjoyed being in the woods at my parents' house. It was a nice break from urban life. I think we went several days without hearing a siren.

Our journey back was less than pleasant. We flew back on Continental, connecting in Houston. It started with a 4am wake-up so we could be at the airport for our flight at 6am. Both of our flights home were overbooked. On both flights I had to haggle and harass to get our seats changed so we would be sitting together (the second one more than the first). Our first flight was delayed enough that it made our connection too tight to get a good breakfast in Houston (as I had planned). Houston airport is laid out horribly and inefficiently. It took forever to get from our arriving gate to our departing gate. We got to our gate about ten minutes before it was time to board. All of the lines at places that sold breakfast type foods were at least twenty people long. I found one restaurant without a line (there was a reason for that) and bought E the only thing that was even halfway appropriate for her: a piece of coconut cake.

After much confusion about seating, we finally get on the plane with seats together. And we sat. There was some mechanical problem with the plane...something about engines not working or something. Whatever it was made the air conditioner not work as well (and was a bit disconcerting). We sat at the gate for 30-45 minutes while they tried to fix that. Finally they find some solution to the problem, but it doesn't fix the a/c.

We taxied onto the runway. And we sat. This was part of the problem:

We were 15th in line for take off. Then the storms hit. We sat on the runway for over 3 hours with no a/c. It was horrid. Surprisingly, Eleanor did not scream and cry (I almost did). My mom had given her a big stack of books. We read Ella Sarah Gets Dressed at least 10 times and most of the others a few times as well. We got on the plane at 8:45am central time and got off at almost 2pm Pacific time (that's over seven hours). Eleanor did sleep for about thirty minutes after we got in the air and I saw parts of two movies. Luckily, we had a good friend who was flexible waiting to pick us up. Even after all that, Eleanor still asks to go back to the airport so she can ride on the airplanes.


LeLe said...

I'm sorry to hear about your Grandma, but glad that E was a great traveler.

joshuadf said...

Sorry to hear that. I flew Continental once from LR and the routing through Houston made me so angry that I swore to never fly with them again. It was a small plane too.

The Fanks said...

I wondered if y'all made it back in a timely manner. I thought about you all day.

Memaw said...

Sounds clauserphobic! I am glad our little E is such a good travler. Thank goodness Mimi thought to send books.

Mrs. Donut said...

Having flown with little ones, the whole return story just makes me cringe all over. Your Eleanor is a trooper; Eliza would have been screaming like a banshee when she was that age! I have heard horrible things about Continental. Was your layover at Hobby Airport in Houston or at George W Bush in Houston?

tigbeane said...

So very sorry about your grandma. Even when you know it's coming, it's still tough to lose those we love.

I can't imagine flying with a small child like that. Fortunately ours were older by the time we took them on planes. I wish I could have seen you, but I know you have so many friends.

Sooz said...

What good girls both of you are because I think I would have lost my mind sitting on that plane for that long. Bless your hearts! I understand about the Houston airport. We swore that one and the Atlanta one off the last few times we've flown. Such a hassle and so many flights overbooked and cancelled!