Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Departure

The kids and I were scheduled to fly out on the 30th at 6:00am on Vietnam Airlines. The lady from Sean's office had arranged all our travel plans and sent us the confirmation email. Initially she had us flying out on the 31st, but she had messed up and booked Jayce as a lap child instead of him having his own seat. Sean had her fix it and she told us that the flight was full on the 31st so we'd fly out on the 30th instead.

I'd pretty much had everything packed the night before and so around 4:00 am I looked my last on the villa we'd called home for the last two years. We arrived at the airport at about 4:30. Unfortunately when I went to check in, the lady couldn't find our booking. What?!! To understand a few things leading up to this event please read the previous post.

She said... "Tomorrow." I tried asking her if the three of us had seats on the flight tomorrow, trying to find out if Jayce was booked as a lap child, but she didn't understand me. The lady directed us to the special ticketing counter. The lady working the ticket counter couldn't even find a booking for us at first. Then she said our tickets had been canceled due to duplicate reservation. Awesome.

This is the point when my freak-out level entered "orange" status. Sean did most of the talking. He asked if we could get on the plane today and what we had to do. The first leg of our journey was previously booked on Vietnam Airlines. The second leg was through Delta Airlines. Because of the two different airlines, the lady at the Vietnam Airline ticket counter said she couldn't help us. We'd have to talk to the Customer Service people of Delta.

"Okay," we said, "Do you have a number for them?" "Yes. It's right here," said the lady at the ticket counter. Alright we were in business right? Then the lady said, "You can't talk to them now. They are closed. They don't open until 8am." Great. That does us a lot of good when the flight leaves at 6am. Arggg!!!!

It was about this time when Terryn was getting absolutely restless. Sean had him on his shoulders and put him down. I ended up chasing him around and taking him to the bathroom. I kept looking over at Sean and it appeared there was no headway being made. I could feel the minutes ticking away. Each minute increased the pounding of my heart and the anxiety building inside me. I started pacing.

I managed to get Terryn to go back over to where Sean was. I had to carry him over there and he was basically kicking and screaming. Sean told me that he was attempting to buy new tickets. We wanted to buy 3 tickets. Two child tickets and one adult. Simple right? Not so. The lady kept arguing with us about the number of tickets. "Your baby is an infant. He doesn't need a seat," the lady kept saying. "He needs a seat. We will pay for a seat," we kept replying in return. How hard is that to understand? I REALLY don't get what the big deal was. Jayce needed his own seat because I was going to have him in the car seat and we needed his baggage allowance. The lady kept arguing and arguing about it. Sean eventually asked to speak to her manager.

After about 30 minutes the lady finally conceded and began to purchase the tickets. My freak-out level was started to approach the red zone. Time was ticking by and this lady was taking her sweet ol' time buying the tickets. How long does it take to do that?!!! I could do it online in 5 minutes!!! Arggg. My pacing increased.

I started worrying because I had three carry-on suitcases, a stroller, my baby in a car seat and our personal items to get to the gate. I can get all of it to the gate myself, but I HAVE to have the stroller to help me do this and it takes me at least 5 minutes to breakdown my stroller and get it into the travel bag. If they make me breakdown the stroller at the security check that adds on considerable time as well. It was looking like I wasn't going to be able to use my stroller to get to the gate. I would have to have somebody help me get there.

At this point I was waiting at the check-in counter for the moment when we were good to go for checking in. I was the only person there. Everyone else on the flight was probably boarding or already on the plane. As soon as Sean signaled me from the special ticket counter I began the check-in process. We asked if we could have someone help me get to the gate because we literally had like 15 minutes before the plane took off. A lady assured me that she'd help me get there.
After we were checked in, Sean and a lady from the ticket counter got me through the initial baggage scan and through the immigration check point. Now this is where things completely fell apart for me. My stomach is twisting in knots as I am remembering this horrific experience.

I got to the security check point. There were a few people in green militaristic uniforms manning the machines. The man looked at me and said I couldn't go through. "WHAT?!!!!" Sean tried to explain that he wasn't going through the security check  point, it was just me and the kids. The lady that was helping me looked at me and said she could not go through the check point. "WHAT?!!!!" Didn't we ask you guys for help to get to the gate and you said YES? I now have 5 minutes to get to the gate and no way of getting there because these stupid people wouldn't let me through security and wouldn't explain why. Eventually the man said I had too many bags. I had exactly the amount of bags I was allowed. Three carry-ons, three personal items and a stroller. I didn't think that security had the authority to stop people for the amount of bags they had. Isn't that up to the airline? We had three people flying out, each with their own seat. My freak-out level was now in full out RED ZONE.

I swear it felt like I had left my body and was helpless to watch myself have a complete melt down. I was absolutely hysterical. I was swearing and repeating over and over things like, "What is WRONG with these people!" "I just want to go home!" and "Our plane is going to LEAVE!" I was desperate, helpless and now I was completely emotional, angry and in anguish. I began to cry... well sob really... fitfully. I was having tremors too. I may or may not have been screaming at these people. To be honest I can't remember very clearly. These people still were not letting me through despite trying to push way my through a couple times. Every time we went to put my bags on the conveyor, the arrogant idiot in the green uniform would take it off. I felt like a caged animal. I think at this point my freak-out level went beyond red. This was when I blacked out...

It was only for a few seconds, if even that. It was more like a bolt of lightning hit me, freezing my limbs and causing me to become trapped in a paralyzing fall. The next thing I remember is Sean standing over me with his hand extended, desperately pleading for me to get up. I still remember being so frustrated, angry and filled with all the emotions as before. I looked over at Terryn who was terrified. He was crying and had huge tear drops running down his face. Baby might have been crying too, but I don't remember. I just remember Terryn's face. It burned its image into my mind. I knew I had to get it back together.

I walked a short distance to a table and braced myself with my hands on either side. I took deep breaths and tried my best to regain some semblance of composure. I don't know what changed at the security line, but now they were letting us through. I tried to say goodbye to Sean, but I was still a mess. I couldn't really say anything to him. I was choked up and kinda brain dead. Once I went through the scanner, a lady in a green uniform kept telling me everything was okay. I think she patted me on the back a few times as I was collecting our bags. She was nice and I don't think I appreciated her kindness until I thought about it later. Two ladies that worked for Vietnam Airlines accompanied me to the gate and helped me with my baggage.

One lady was fairly cheerful and thought Terryn was cute. She was nice. The other lady was seriously ticked off at me and was chewing me out the entire way to the gate. I used my ignoring powers on her. At the gate a lady gate checked the stroller and then asked if she could check two of my carry-ons. Yes please. That would make it SO much easier for me. Once our tickets were scanned we made it onto the plane and everything from here on out went fine.

On the airplane a man looked over at me and said, "Oh I didn't know you had kids with you. I saw what happened. Let me know if you need any help." I thanked him. Hmmmm... I wonder what it was he saw? That's kinda embarrassing if he saw my total melt down. Oh well. It is what it is and mental illness is not a pretty thing. I think he had to have seen the commotion at the ticket counter and not the security check point because there wasn't anyone around at that time.

The first flight was like 6 hours and was fine. The only bad thing that happened was when I went to the bathroom to change Jayce. Terryn was watching his DVD player and I told him to stay put. He seemed really interested in his movie so I didn't think he'd move. When I came out of the bathroom the flight attendant was leading him back to his seat. Apparently he almost opened the emergency door. Seriously?!! Now I'm going to have nightmares of the plane losing pressure and Terryn hurtling towards the earth without a parachute. What I can't figure out is why the people sitting in the emergency exit row didn't stop him? Wouldn't you have if you saw him doing that?

Once we landed in Narita, Tokyo, Japan, we went through security again. It was really quick and I was SO glad they didn't make me break down the stroller. We got our tickets at the ticket counter and had just enough time to go to McDonalds and get Terryn some chicken nuggets. It was a good thing I did that too because Terryn wasn't digging the airplane food.

When we stepped off the plane in Narita I was expecting to encounter a million problems... like that we didn't have tickets or whatever. Everything when so smoothly. The flight attendant even re-arranged our tickets automatically so that we were all sitting together. This flight went well also. Both kids behaved themselves pretty well. I was so thankful. They both were really good the whole trip. A few times during the flight Terryn would look at me with a very sweet expression and say, "Mommy? You no cry now? It's okay Mommy." It was sweet. I think I totally traumatized him when I had my panic attack.

I think the last 2 hours of the flight were the longest for me. Both kids were asleep, I was tired, my movie screen was broken, I didn't have my book and I couldn't sleep. The screen in front of me kept counting down the "time to destination". I swear that made it worse.

Once we landed and deboarded, we made it to through immigration without any problem. The guy was really nice too. Then it was off to the baggage claim to get the bags. I loaded our stuff up in a cart and tried to push the cart and the stroller. I could do it, but it was taking forever. Some random lady helped me get through customs. Then we had to load our bags onto another conveyor belt and pick up our bags at another baggage claim.

I got my bags and was starting to worry about how to get a hold of my parents since I didn't have a working cell phone. Then my Mom appeared in perfect timing. I think for the first time in the last couple months, I took a sigh of relief. It felt so good to be back with my parents. Though I was still a bit shaken from all that transpired in Ho Chi Minh City, it felt nice to be somewhere where I could feel safe and not worry about everything for a bit.

These last few months have been so stressful and it's still not over. The next couple months are going to be stressful as well. I hope that the few weeks I'll be at my mom's will be enough to help me recover.

3 comments:

  1. Oh Anika! What an ordeal! I would have done the exact same thing!!! Just reading it gave me anxiety!!! So glad your home with your parents for the time being.

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  2. This is what I got out of this:

    Want to get through security faster? Pass out.

    Someone else's kid wants to open the emergency exit and jump out? Let him through. Ha ha!

    Anyway, that was a seriously psychotic experience. Having been abroad, myself, I know exactly how the U.S. is the only country that even remotely has customer service. Every other country couldn't care less about customers and their needs.

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  3. Wow...just wow. I admire you so much for enduring this AND everything leading up to it! I would have CRACKED big time. When Jake was 3, Anna 1 and I was pregnant with Ryan, I was flying with them and no hubby. We had a plane change at LAX and a sprint to our next plane via shuttles etc. Not fun, but I didn't have loads of stuff and mean people to deal with like you. When we finally arrived at the gate, the flight had been cancelled. The next available flight was the next day. I had no luggage, no car, 1 diaper left and had to stay in a hotel in LA on my tab. I was HYSTERICAL at the gate. The attendant had pity on me and gave me a voucher for a nearby hotel. Passing out and crying hysterically can get you places haha. Looking back, the circumstance was not really that awful and is just a sliver of what you experienced. Hopefully LOADS of awesomeness is coming you way!!! You deserve it!

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