(Lost? Catch the rest of the story:  Here’s Part 1 | Here’s Part 3)

I’ve rehashed this moment so many times in the past couple days that I don’t even want to bring it up again. But for the sake of finally airing it out on our blog, here goes nothing.

Where Emily had left off is right where things got going… and by that I of course mean they didn’t. We arrived at the airport with about 2 hours to spare before boarding. After spending about 30-40 minutes standing in an unmoving, sweaty, and completely unorganized herd of human beings, Carter started screaming at the top of his lungs and we got pushed to the front of what appeared to be some makeshift security line.  Thank goodness for babies.

First things first, we go to check in.  As we do so the woman at the counter looks at the tickets funny. After about 4 minutes of the odd looks, she tells us Carter doesn’t have a ticket.

“Wait, what? But we paid for it!”

“I’m sorry sir, I don’t have any lap child associated with your tickets. Do you have a ticket number for him?”

I quickly check my emails with itineraries; sure enough, no ticket number. But that was the same case on the two other United Airlines-chartered flights we had already taken internationally, and we had no snags whatsoever.  For final confirmation, I checked my bank records of when I purchased the tickets back in August. There were the two charges for Emily and me, and just below it another $55.04 charge for Carter’s ticket.  I knew that this wasn’t something the lady had anything to do with—if it wasn’t in the system, it wasn’t in the system… which meant we were hosed.

I asked her if I could buy another ticket for him, and she said yes… but I would have to run up to their ticket office to get it. I had no idea where it was at, and apparently she didn’t either, as she just pointed up and shrugged her shoulders. As I began to leave, she noted, “Oh, and check-in is closing in 20 minutes, so you’ll have to move fast.”

I ran up the stairs and all around the 1st terminal, asked several unknowing people, even went into another airline’s ticket office where no one spoke english, but I was no closer to the correct office than I had been before I left the counter. I ran most of the way back to check-in when I saw an info booth and asked the woman there. Turns out I had ran past it about 3 times while looking around aimlessly.  I doubled back and waited behind a guy trying to flirt with the woman in charge.  His efforts seemed fruitless so he moved on soon enough, and I bought the same ticket for Carter that I had 3 months before. This time it was $125. Huzzah.

I ran back down to check-in so fast that I almost had two security guards chasing me. I practically threw the new ticket at the check-in woman, who started typing it in with superhuman speed.  And then we waited. For 20 minutes.  Finally Emily asked her what the holdup was, as there were now two staff members staring at the screen with furrowed brows. With a bit of reluctance they told us what was going on: Carter’s ticket wasn’t showing up in their “new” ticketing system, rendering the new ticket I bought was as useless as the first one.

Everything seemed doomed, and I was livid. I sent an angry tweet to United Airlines for screwing up our life, thinking that maybe, just maybe they’d be able to step it up. They responded, but no dice. They confirmed, however, that I did book Carter’s ticket and wasn’t crazy.  Then with a few hundred more phone calls and yelling in Arabic, our check-in helper gave us the first good sign we’ve had since entering the airport: we’re good to board.  All we had to do was get through security and run half a mile to our gate with 40 lbs each of luggage and baby strapped to our bodies within the next 20 minutes when the plane takes off.  No biggie.

We barely had made into the long hall when we heard our names called over the intercom at the other end.  They were right about to close the gate so we were flailing our arms trying to get their attention as we ran the rest of the way.  We apologized as we jogged down the aisles and almost threw our heavy bags in the overhead compartments half a cabin away from our seats, straps dangling down everywhere and lightly hitting people in the face. I’m sure we were real winners to everyone we met, but thankfully with only a few dirty looks we sat in our seats, sighed the biggest sigh ever heard, and prepared for takeoff.  Then we heard an announcement:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re sorry to announce we have some… “travel documents”… that haven’t come in yet. We appreciate your patience as we wait.”  We had a feeling that it was us they were talking about… something wrong with Carter’s ticket or something silly.  So we sat there with more glares on us than when we got on the plane, and 45 minutes later we were in the air, and everything was normal again. Lunch was served, which was well needed as Emily and I hadn’t eaten anything more than crackers since lunch the previous day.  It felt great to finally be done with the horribleness of the day and enjoy a hot meal.

Then Carter threw up.


Coming Up Next:

  • Emily gets sick.
  • No sleep on a red-eye, 12-hour flight across the whole of Africa.
  • Lost baggage our first time ever checking bags.
  • Carter’s lap-child ticket gets him assigned to some stranger on the flight instead of me or Emily.