My family is still here in Las Vegas. Yes, we told you we were going to Hawaii yesterday, but that's not what happened.
We got to the airport in plenty of time to get on the plane, or so we thought. Our wonderful neighbor who gave us a ride offered to park his car and help us carry our luggage into the terminal rather than dropping us off at the curb. We gladly accepted this kind offer.
We should have insisted on being dropped off at the curb. Instead, we had to walk from parking into the terminal, and then when we got there we were nowhere close to ticketing and check-in. We collapsed on the floor in a heap and decided we needed a luggage cart. After thanking our neighbor we sent him home, then I sat on the floor with the kids and waited for dad to come rescue us with the cart.
Things were getting tight, but still okay. Once we had our cart we crossed the airport and found the ticketing area. Then we went and stood in line.
It was a long line. It was a slow line. Only one agent was seeing people. I couldn't believe it. Forty minutes went by, and we were still in line. Our flight would leave in only fifteen minutes! We were going to miss it. What happens when you miss your flight? I didn't know. It had never happened to me before. I imagined having to buy new tickets. To Hawaii. We were dead.
It wasn't like this was some kind of vacation. We were moving!
All this time something strange was going on. People were not stopping to stand in line, they were going up to these rows of computer screens, typing things in, and then dropping off their luggage at the counter. It slowly dawned on me that WE WERE STANDING IN THE WRONG LINE! In fact, IT WAS WRONG TO BE STANDING IN A LINE AT ALL! I just assumed we were supposed to get in line. When there's a line, get in it, right? I hadn't seen any signs that said, "Don't bother to stand in line, go check yourself in on the computers." There were no agents standing around to tell us what to do. Somehow, all those other people already knew what to do. We didn't have to be standing in this line at all.
Too late now.
"I think we've missed our flight," I told the smiling Polynesian girl at the counter as I handed her our itinerary.
She typed on her keyboard and her smile disappeared. "Shoot. You did."
"What do we do?" I asked.
"And that's our last flight to Honolulu for today," she sighed at the screen. "I can put you on another flight tomorrow."
"How much will that cost?" I asked.
She curled up her lip and shook her head, "I'm not charging you for that."
"Thank-you!" She was my new best friend.
"Here, let me put you on the earlier connection so you have a longer layover in Phoenix. With all these little kids, you're going to want some more time."
She was the most wonderful ticket agent ever. She got us seats on the plane so everyone could sit together, and even checked us in so that when we came back all we had to do was drop off the luggage.
So we called another neighbor who came and picked us up from the airport, and we all trooped home and spent the day sitting around, watching Lord of the Rings. Yesterday was only a dress rehearsal. Today we are leaving for the airport three hours early. We will be dropped off at the curb. We will not get in the long, slow line. We will drop off our luggage, go to the gate, and then get on the plane and get out of here!
We've learned from experience.