What do our cellar door, a pressure cooker, and my daughter all have in common?

They all have vents.

Our family flies a lot.  Our oldest three children categorically hate flying.  Oh, they’re not afraid of flying.  They aren’t the phobic types, but they have all learned that flying is a never-ending series of “hurry up and wait (and wait and wait and wait) and then be (mildly, significantly, intensely) frustrated” events.

Katie’s experience of trying to get back to Virginia from Branson last year on Southwest was an extreme example.  I don’t remember all the details, but it was something along the lines of them cancelling a flight – twice – and then forcing her to pay to re-schedule.  Katie’s generally pretty calm under pressure, and she’s not prone to blow up of fall apart, but she was pretty darn upset that day.

I think today’s situation trumps that.

She was scheduled to fly from Dulles to Hong Kong, with a connection in Chicago, to spend a week with her sister.  This was Katie’s Christmas present to Jessica, and to say that a LOT of effort has gone into the planning would be an understatement.  A significant amount of money.  Working extra in order to squeeze out enough vacation days.  Packing to leave an area that received a foot of snow yesterday to travel to a humid area with expected temps in the sixties.  Oh.  And do all that when you’ve been living in a hotel for the past month and can’t access or even find some of your stuff that was packed away in boxes by some moving company after your apartment flooded.

In MO time, she was scheduled to leave Dulles today (Feb 14th) around 8:30 AM, arrive Chicago about 10:30 AM, leave Chicago around 1:00 PM, and arrive Hong Kong about 5:00 AM on Feb 15th.

Her roommate dropped her at the airport, and she found out that United had overbooked her flight out of Dulles to the tune of 25 folks.  Sigh.  She was traveling with a carry-on (which she was forced to check, due to the requested-by-Jessica peanut butter within) and her laptop bag.  The odds of her getting on her scheduled flight didn’t look good.

She texted us this information and we prayed fervently on her behalf.  Scott encouraged her to go to the gate and find out what was up.  She did and texted us the results:  “nothing.”

While she waited in a long line of similarly stranded folks to talk to an agent, she heard rumors.  The airline would pay them (I said it’d better be in cash and not in miles); it looked like she could get to Chicago by 7 PM tonight (while she did have with her what she needed to fly, due to her bag being checked, she nothing for an overnight if she got stuck in Chicago); United would send them on other airlines; they’d be sent from Reagan or Baltimore (United booking shuttle service), etc.

Hours went by, and then this message:  “Well, apparently they forgot about me they called  everyone up one by one and then “Is there anyone else who was bumped from the Chicago flight?” Me and the other guy going to Hong Kong both got up. This was about an hour ago. FINALLY have an agent looking for flights for me now, but I’ve already missed the good flight through Newark. sigh”

She told Scott on the phone that the agent told her, “Hmmm. . . they should have let you on that flight because you have a connection.”  DUH!!!  And an international connection at that!!!

Then some three hours after her initial flight had left, this:  “tomorrow. I am SO mad. and if I hadn’t checked the bag, it sounds like I could maybe have gone today. so mad.”

I don’t know when tomorrow, or how she’ll get home from the airport or back to it, or where her checked bag is, but I know she is probably about as angry as she’s ever been, and rightly so.  As hard as she has worked to carve out this time with Jessica, to have a day of it stolen is just fiendishly CRUEL!

And now, having joined the cellar door, a pressure cooker, and my daughter, I am done venting.

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