For the second flight in a row, Maddie was treated to more mechanical meltdowns compliments of United Airlines. (They hate to fly and it shows)
It was a long and arduous trip home, but it did not tarnish a wonderful Easter weekend with the entire family. We pulled up to the airport in Chicago this morning with plenty of time to spare. We even breezed through security and things were proceeding almost too smoothly. That’s when we saw that our flight was already delayed by a couple of hours.
Actually, being stuck at the airport was the best part of the day. Maddie and Aunt Jacque got to hang out and throw food together at the airport Chili’s. There was no pressure, plenty of food and a happy baby. But once we made our way down to the gate, things got a little dicey.
There was a mob of people who had been waiting for some time to get to Newark and United had one person manning the gate. We shuffled onto the airplane and found our seats. We had no idea that our time on the runway was just beginning.
Once again, Maddie managed more than an hour of runway naptime only to find her parents wondering if they were ever going to take off. At one point, we were supposedly taxiing down the runway for takeoff when the pilot had to turn around for mechanical issues.
Hot tip: Babies as a general rule don’t like to sit still in a plane. Especially if they already were stranded for several hours at the airport due to “windy conditions.” Once we got into the air, Maddie’s patience’s was on shaky ground.
We pulled out all the entertainment tricks in the book, but after four hours plus on the plane – Maddie was fed up. You can’t blame her, we could have flown to the moon and back by the time we left O’Hare. After a while, Maddie staged a few mini-meltdowns – but her behavior went above and beyond. She fought the good fight and we were very proud of her.
Maddie’s look seemed to say it all, “You guys are pushing your luck!” After a flight to Chicago and three plus hours in the car, my 8-month-old super star was winding down before our eyes. Today’s flight wasn’t as adventurous as her faux-emergency landing at Newark last week, but it did have it moments.
We hit the airport early armed with snacks, stealth and experience. Our plan was to feed Maddie before boarding the plane. Do to unforeseen circumstances, that didn’t quite happen. But Maddie kept her spirits high and was patient enough to let us feed her on the plane.
Once again, we were all underwhelmed by the grandeur of Newark Liberty Airport. We taxied so long that Maddie finished a full bottle, some English muffin pieces and almost an entire apple worth of slices. We actually thought that the pilot had diverted to the highway and was going to taxi us all the way to Chicago. Anyway, by the time Chucky Lindbergh got the bus in the air, Maddie was celebrating her Sweet 16.
At the tail end of our flight, Maddie started to unravel a little bit. But before she could get out of hand, a woman across the aisle started telling her what a good girl she was. Maddie has never been one to shy away from attention. She made fast friends with the woman who chatted with her until we actually landed. Good stuff!
Maddie endured another 3 hours in the car like a champ as we pulled up to the thriving metropolis of Peoria, Illinois. Both of my lungs collapsed before I could actually blowup Maddie’s little inflatable tub. As we got Maddie into the tub, it was obvious that her sense of humor had left the building. We needed some baby supplies so I slipped out to the store and left bedtime operations to her mom.
As the door closed behind me, I could hear Maddie lighting up her mom with high-pitched screams and fussing. But I figured that after the day she had, the baby was more than entitled to vocalize a few well-placed complaints. Tomorrow we will have a full report from the baby’s first fish fry!
Maddie’s return flight home on United Airlines took more than a few unexpected turns this evening including an interesting welcome home at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. Maddie is my 8-month-old daughter and she was feeling more than a bit antsy during Friday evening’s flight home from Charlotte.
Midway through the flight, we gave her a bottle that finally seemed to the take the edge off and put her to sleep. Maddie slept for about 20 minutes when the pilot came over the intercom informing us that we were making our descent into Newark.
We were in the process of the normal approach when the pilot suddenly halted his descent and began climbing. He came back over the speaker and said, “Uhh, folks, we’re going to have to check some things out up here.” Maddie doesn’t speak yet, but this announcement seemed to command her full attention.
Much to the baby’s dismay, we spent the next twenty minutes flying in circles around the Newark area. We kept switching Maddie back and forth between parents, but we could not get her to relax.
Suddenly, the phone rang and was picked up the young male flight attendant right next to us. We were in the first row and thought I could hear the word emergency in the conversation the pilot was having with the flight attendant. Surely I must have been hearing things, but there we were, not circling the airport but flying around New Jersey.
The baby was getting increasingly restless when the pilot announces that we will be on the ground in three minutes. As soon as we touch down, we can see more than 15 fire trucks and multiple rescue vehicles lining the right side of the runway. As we begin to slow down, these teams of first responders and firefighters are peeling off and escorting us down the runway.
These emergency vehicles are packing in behind us as the announcements are coming on like nothing out of the ordinary is going on. So here we are with a train of emergency vehicles shadowing our every move as our jet is directed away from all the other aircraft that are parked on the tarmac.
Now the emergency vehicles are pulling up on either side of the jet as we await our fate. The flight attendant pops the door and a Port Authority Official rushes into the cockpit to talk with the pilot.
You can hear the pilot say, it was on the screen and then it just went blank. The officer turned back to the flight attendant and told him to let the passengers go. No one wasted any time getting off of that flight. As soon as we got Maddie off of the plane, she was suddenly as cool as a cucumber. I wonder if she knew something that United Airlines had obviously forgot to tell the rest of us.
Maddie fought the good fight this weekend. She traveled hundreds of miles using multiple forms of transportation and kept her sense of humor as much as any 8-month-old little girl could.
Our journey began at the pit known as Newark Airport. It’s rated worst in the nation for a reason folks. And the mega-mind merger between United and Continental only make things worse. Knowing the forces of evil to be dealt with, we left plenty of time to undo whatever screw-ups we might encounter. It didn’t take long to run head-long into our first impediment.
My wife printed boarding passes before leaving the house that clearly read that we were leaving from gate A-27. For those of you who know Newark Airport, this means that you are leaving from Terminal “A” Pretty simple right?
So we checked in at the “A” terminal, checked our bags and collected our boarding passes. Then I heard Maddie gasp. Upon a closer inspection of our tickets, the United idiots had changed the flight to leave from terminal “C”
Maddie glared at her parents as if to say, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!” It was sooo nice of the bubblehead that checked us in not to mention that we had to high-tail it down to the “C” terminal if we wanted to make our flight. So Maddie suggested we take the monorail and make it snappy!
We get to the lovely terminal “C” only to find that TSA has four entry points but only two security lines open for a mob of travelers. And let me tell you, they were in NO HURRY whatsoever. I propped little Maddie into one arm and started placing my junk into the bins. Sure enough, I snagged the smartest TSA agent in the airport.
I placed my Kindle Fire on top of my laptop in the bin when I heard the agent say, “HOLD UP!” (Here we go) Maddie is looking more than a little concerned at the man who has just snapped at me.
“Sir, what is that?”
“UM, a Kindle.”
His face contorted as if were speaking in tongues – “A WHAT?”
“A device that people use to read books and magazines,” I explained.
“Sir, that needs to go in a separate bin.”
Of course now the line is backing up even more as I grip Maddie a little tighter so I can go fetch another bin. I grab the new bin as Maddie grabs my bottom row of teeth. I put the Kindle in a bin of it’s own. Now the baby and I are ready to come through the scanner, but the scanning agent is having a mindless conversation about what time she came to work that morning. Luckily Maddie started grabbing my nose that somehow broke this woman out of her drug-induced coma.
We made it to our gate with only moments to spare, but Maddie was a perfect angel through out the entire process. She was also a delightful flying companion and made it through her first flight like a real pro.