Last Sunday we headed out for our annual trip to Montana. We go to the (step) family’s ranch, Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge to ride horses, fly fish, hike, row a boat, eat, drink, watch B run around with her cousins and spend lots of time with my mom. It’s not a relaxing read a book on the beach vacation, it’s an action packed, fun filled whirlwind of a trip. And it is awesome.
For the second time, we flew out of William’s Gateway Airport on Allegiant Air. It’s a relatively new airline at an airport that has only recently become commercial. It’s much further than the main Phoenix airport, but we can fly direct to Bozeman and it’s a much better price than the major airlines. On this trip, we learned that discount airlines means more than limited flight times, paying for bags and seat choices, but it also means that when there’s a problem, you’re shit of luck.
Here’s a timeline of the events of last Sunday:
3:30pm – we get three bags checked, three carry ons, a car seat and a three year old through security with only one bathroom break and one change of clothes. Yes, 5 minutes into the trip, B has a minor accident. I should have recognized it as an omen.
4:00pm – flight to Colorado Springs is moved to our gate. Plane is loaded and takes off.
4:30pm – our scheduled departure time. However we are not on a plane because there is no plane.
4:45pm – a person who looks like they work for the airline cruises through the terminal. 25 passengers tackle him and ask why the board is still reading “on time”.
4:50pm – announcement is made that the flight is delayed until 8:30pm. Airline / airport employee promptly disappears.
8:20pm – no plane.
8:30pm – no plane and no personal.
8:45pm – I march to the other terminal, nab a counter agent and demand answers at our gate. Snivley little weasel waltzes to our gate where he informs everyone that he doesn’t know what’s going on. Why? Because he doesn’t work for Allegiant. In fact, no one works for Allegiant in the airport. Allegiant employees work on the plans only, not in the airport. If we want answers, we have to go on line or call the customer service number.
8:50pm – security is called due to the amount of irate travelers.
9:00pm – announcement is made that the flight is now delayed until 10pm. Oh, and there was no plane coming at 8:30. They just told us that (seriously. That’s what they said).
9:15pm – another mom hosts a dance party for all the kids at the gate. I start crying at the thought that we might miss our vacation.
10:00pm – no plane.
10:15pm – delay moved to 10:30pm.
10:20pm – announcement that a flight has arrived and they are giving us the plane. 100 people rush to pack up and run to the neighboring terminal where we stand and wait.
10:45pm – plane is finally boarded and we are headed out.
2:00am – we arrive in Bozeman and the lovely, lovely people at Hertz rent a car are there waiting with our car.
*4:00am* – our tires hit the familiar dirt of Tom Miner Creek Road.
– we have a really, really, amazing kiddo. She never once cried, melted down or acted out. She was sweet, cooperative and a trooper. She smiled until she fell asleep on the plane, the car and finally in her pack n’play.
– check the incoming flight arrival time. If the plane you are supposed to take is late, you are going to be late too.
– over packing is essential when traveling with a munchkin. I wouldn’t let her play with her Minnie Mouse backpack leading up to the trip because I was loading it with new goodies. Little figurines, markers, coloring books, magnet boards, fun headphones, Goldfish, fruit snacks, suckers…a thousand things that might entertain her and every one of them came in handy!
– humanity is not all bad. I was shocked at how nice the other passengers were, especially to two wheelchair bound older ladies. I thought they were traveling with a group, but it turns out the people helping them were just kind strangers who offered to buy them dinner, a soda, walk to the bathroom or stretch their legs. Parents shared toys, snacks and entertainment with other kiddos. The same mom that hosted the dance party also set up their Ipad with a movie for all who wanted to watch. When the gate attendant announced that priority boarders would go first and then passengers with medical needs and parents, the crowd of exhausted passengers unanimously yelled back to take the two older ladies and the parents first.
– The entire time we waited I was drafting a scathing post in my head. I am decidedly NOT thrilled with how the situation was handled by Allegiant . But I can say that at least they did fly (they only fly twice a week to each destination – if we missed our Sunday flight, the next one wouldn’t have been until Thursday) even though it was horribly late.
– Allegiant has a lot of work to do to handle their customer service better (two phone calls later and there is no compensation offered. No discount, no free ticket, no nothing) including having gate agents who know what the hell is going on. So if you are going to be flying with them, check the flight info, have the customer service number in your phone and bring lots of entertainment!
Despite our freakishly late arrival, we had a great trip! And I have the nearly 200 pictures to prove it.