This first post from the road may be a tad disjointed…fair warning.
We’re cruising at 37,000 feet and we’re about to cross over into northern Siberia, a very long way from where this day started. Revellie was at 2:45 AM for Mom & Dad, and around 3 AM for the rest of the crew. The load out went fine, and thanks to our new ride, it all fit. AR joined us right on time a few minutes before 4:00. Without the extra luggage space, we would have needed two cars or a limo – I miss our old car but now I realize that much more how we’ll need the space.
The next hour or two went pretty much according to plan. We cruised through security (Pre-Check helped), made our way to the gate and grabbed breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. We boarded on time, made our way to our seats.
Thats when things started to unravel…
The pilot made an announcement that the flight computer needed to be reset. It had been reset once already that morning, but as we were boarding before push back, it went down. A few ground crew technicians made their way to the cockpit, and one took the pilot’s seat. If I stretched, I could just see the top of the tech’s hat as he worked the issue. After about 10 nervous minutes, the issue was resolved and after a bit of paperwork was done, we’d be on our way.
Not so fast…
After the door had closed as we were about to roll, the pilot again announed that the computer had gone down again. He was apologetic, and the stress-o-meter started to hit mid-scale. You could just tell by the tone of his voice that things were not going well with the fix. It was at that point, when he mentioned that the gate agent was reviewing all of our connections, that we all sort of knew that this was not going to end well.
Sure enough, a few moments later, the obituary was announced – the computer had failed and could not be fixed without parts. (Parts that would apparently need to come from either NY or Atlanta.) As Dylan would say: “Oh Biscuits!!”. Everyone gathered their belongings and we headed back into the ternminal, to recalibrate. Stress-o-meter was pinned and the needle looked like it was going to bend.
We grabbed the Delta “Help Cards” (as in ‘we’d really like to HELP you catch a new flight and make your connections – but we can’t promise anything’). AR and I dialed in right away and got two different agents. Hers was much more efficient than mine, and after a few more minutes she came through in the clutch had us rebooked on the next USAir/American flight to Detroit.
The good news – all six of us were rebooked and the flight would allow us to make the connection to our Beijing flight in Detroit.
The bad news – it was moments from boarding, and it was at gate B-7, while we were in Terminal E. Little hands were grabbed by bigger hands and we were on our way – pretty much trotting from E to B.
I need to stop here for a brief moment to let you know how WELL the kids were behaving in the midst of this little detour. They were TREMENDOUS – they sensed that things were going a bit sidways – and they got on board and were great! We are fortunate that they are experienced travelers (even at 9, 9 and 6). Hopefully they’ll look back, perhaps in a few years, when we’re re-reading this story with Ryan , and have good memories of how, with a little patience and a lot of persistence, and politeness on the phones, we were able to salvage a win from such a very dim start. Hopefully, a life lesson; one that maybe even Ryan might appreciate.
When we pulled up to B-7, the agent was having trouble completeing the rebooking and issuing boarding passes. She called her supervisor and between the two of them got it done. The gate agent was locked out because the connection was too tight and needed an override. Another little benefit, the USAir agents were able to also issue our DELTA DETROIT-BEIJING boarding passes – and they got us all in the same row. As Ashley likes to say: “Sweet!!”
I was still a bit worried about the luggage making it onto our new flight and then being sent along to meet up with our Delta Beijing flight. I was assured that this would happen automatically, “behind the curtin”, so to speak. We will see when we get to baggage claim in Beijing. (The way I see it, if they can keep a several hundred thousand pound plane, loaded with 300 passengers IN THE AIR for 13 and a half hours, thay should be able to redirect a few suitcases from Ramp E to Ramp B.)
After we hit the ground in Detroit, we still needed to make our way from the USAir/American arrival gates over to the Delta Terminal. Easy, right? I think not. We needed to leave the North Terminal- up an escalator, across a bridge, down another escaltor, over the river and through the woods – leaving the secure area, to catch a SHUTTLE BUS to the Delta (MacNamara) Terminal. It was a bit of a pain, but we cruised back through TSA Security, and made our way to our gate.
It was all starting to level out, when the agent announced “Would passenger Lisa Lockhead please come to the desk?” Not to worry, after a few more nervous moments, Lisa straightend them out, and we made our way onto the plane and to the Row 17 seats that we presently occupy. Stress-o-Meter back in the green.
The flight has been comfortable so far and the kids behavior has been nothing shot of outstanding. Thanks to the complimentary movies, music and diversions on the seat-back screens, the kids are on the verge of electronic overload: “How are we going to watch all of this stuff?! We only have 13 hours!”
As I was saying about this being disjointed… I am signing off for the moment (and will likely not re-edit this). I’ll hopefully have a chance to wrap up the rest of today’s story later at the hotel. It’s only about 4 more hours to wheels-down in Beijing, making it about 10:20 PM Philadelphia time right now – and we’re well into Russian airspace. Because of the flight route and due to this being spring summer in the nothern hemisphere, we’ve had bright sunshine the entire way. When we arrive, it will be Thursday afternoon on the wall clock, but VERY early Thusday AM for our body clocks.
Based on our day today, it seems like the best way to keep the news flowing from us will be to use FB for quick hits and photos ( for folks who might not be able to make it to the blog pages) and blog posts like this to build out the story and capture it for future publication for Ryan and our families.
Regardless of how the story unfolds – one thing is for certain:
We’re coming for you Ryan – as you can see, we won’t let anything get in the way.
Wrapping up…luggage made it! We caught our pre-arranged van from the airport (the bags nearly didn’t fit in the back of the van) to the Hotel. We went out to get some food before crashing – but we forgot to change money to get some RMB. So AR and I went back (5 mins.) to the hotel to do that. We finally caught up with everyone else at the Mall across the street from the hotel. (Yes, I said mall – we were/are exhausted.) We said a little prayer to Col. Sanders, the patron saint of our China trips. And, Voila, we came upon KFC! It was so good in fact, that Dylan observed that HIS chicken nuggets were the best he’d ever had. I think it was the delirium kicking in!
Here are a few photos…
Here is the Flight data shortly after take-off:
Same flight data screen, as we landed at 2:37 PM = 2:37 AM EDT!!
It took a few moments to check in at the hotel…
Enjoying a KFC dinner at the mall food court:
Gotta go now – falling asleep at the keyboard.
More soon thanks for following.