Burlington is a spoke airport, so the only available nonstops to Detroit tend to leave about 6 in the morning. No problem: we set the alarm for 315, took showers, woke C and B and got them dressed, and headed out into the aftermath of the big snow dump in plenty of time. Oh, did we mention that the state transportation department, in lieu of overnight plowing or salting, just put up big flashing signs warning people to slow down because there was snow and ice on the interstate? So we arrived at the airport still sorta with enough time. Yes, even after I had to go back to the car to get C's backpack.
The Northwest clerk at the counter was making conversation with the folks ahead of us, and really didn't seem to know how to work his computer terminal, but eventually he got their tickets printed out and turned to us. "Three to travel, and we'd also like a gate pass." No, he wasn't issuing gate passes that morning because the flights were all full and they were trying to avoid congestion in the boarding area. So J got to wrangle a 4-year-old while taking off her own shoes, running the diaper bag and infant seat through x-ray, and holding an increasingly cranky B in her arms. The final boarding announcement came while she was asking the TSA agent if he could please just toss the carton of chocolate milk and the last half of B's bottle rather than opening them both up for testing. Or rather, insisting that she, with infant still in arms, open the containers because liability and/or contamination concerns forbid TSA agents from uncapping a bottle.
Take two: another clerk rebooked our valiant trio, this time through LaGuardia with a switch from Continental to USAIR. Plenty of time to go off and have breakfast, which we did, and to get extra diapers for B, since it was looking to be an extra-long day. Hampered only a little by having coats in the bag checked through to Detroit and it being 12 and windy. Continental was happy to issue a gate pass. Back to security, this time upstairs. Except it turned out the rebooking clerk hadn't actually printed out tickets or boarding passes, just ticket receipts, not good for passage. Back downstairs, where yet another clerk (at USAIR this time, don't ask me why) noticed that the Continental flight was running late so that there would only be 10 minutes to change terminals at Laguardia, and rebooked everyone through philadelphia instead.
Take four: wait another hour, taking C on tours of the airport and helping him spell out signs, marveling at B napping after a mere 6 hours awake, then back to security. After a few minutes of consultation, the TSA agents decided that my Continental-issued gate pass was no longer valid because the flying party was now booked entirely on a different airline. Run downstairs, B in my arms, buttonhole the same helpful clerk at USAIR, get a pass from him, charge back upstairs, get sipped to the front of the first security line by the ID-checking agent, who had begun pitying us a couple iterations back. Unlimber luggage and offspring. Send right combinations of same through x-ray and magnetometer. Wait for agent to wave test strip over open baby bottle and then apply indicator solution. Put shoes, backpacks, phones, car keys, diaper back, infant back in proper places. Arrive at gate just as the agent begins making the "anyone needing extra time or special assistance to board" announcement. "That would be us."
So they're somewhere in the air or on the ground, I'm here trying not to think about digging out the other garage door and associated driveway and wondering what I should have for supper before crashing.Oy.