Buyer Beware

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.

Lessons learned:

– 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.

T-Town Bound

We made a quick trip to Tucson this weekend and had a ball. Normally I am opposed to overnight trips – they’re just too much work. Packing up the kiddo’s stuff, bedding and “just in case” supplies is a pain in itself, but I have to find someone to check in on the BearMeister, pack myself and PW…it’s just a lot of work for 24 hours. Not to mention that this weekend we had stuff scheduled on both Saturday and Sunday so we were litterally zipping in and out of town. But to my big surprise, it all went very smooth and was a ton of fun!

We arrived with enough time before dinner to walk around campus. It was so much fun to see The Phi, Peter’s fraternity house (which is currently being occupied by another fraternity and caused PW to hold back a few swear words), buildings that we each attended classes in, our favorite resturants, our respective dorms…the list goes on. It was amazing to think back and realized how much life has changed in the last *cough* eight years since we graduated. The campus has changed so much, yet all the amazing memories are still there. It’s even more fun that PW and I were there together so it wasn’t me showing him, but rather getting to tell each other our favorite memories. At one point Baylor sighed and asked when we were going back to the “HO-teeeellll”. Apparently memory lane was not as exciting for her.

Ah The Phi. I lived in the window right above the “Alpha Phi”

Next we were off to dinner with the family I babysat for while at UofA. It’s scary to think that Madi is now graduating high school and headed off to college herself! Amazing how she’s grown and I haven’t aged a day…to say that it’s wonderful to catch up with the L family is an understatement. They are truly amazing people and even when we haven’t seen each other in years, it’s like we just talked yesterday. Dinner was at one of our collective favorites: Rosa’s. I had forgotten how amazing the refried beans are and I said a little prayer of thanks that the morning sickness has passed so I could enjoy every stinking last bite of my enchilada and tacos!

After dinner it was the UofA baseball game – PW’s reason for planning the trip. The team has moved off campus to Hi Corbett Field which turned out to be awesome. The stadium was packed, they served beer and there was a jump house, what more could you ask for? Oh yeah, a win! We got that too.

Pretty sunset

We had to teach Baylor not to cheer for the other team. She broke out her signature “dirty look” instead.

PW and BW

The Super Moon! The camera phone didn’t do it justice.

We headed back to the “ho-teelll” after it was looking promising that the Cats would pull off the win. We were impressed with The Lodge on the Desert. It was close to the hotel and campus, full remodeled and a nice price. Bay was excited to try out her new Pea Pod sleep tent and it went swimmingly. If you have any traveling to do with a toddler soon (especially one that sleeps in a crib but has out grown a pack and play) then I highly recommend the tent. It has an air mattress, is one piece that folds flat and doubles as a play area. It was perfect way to divide a room for her and us so we could do crazy stuff like brush our teeth and watch TV without waking her up!

We’re already talking about another slightly longer trip later this summer to one of the resorts. Sure there are two world famous resort just down the street, but there’s something about getting out of town, visiting places you haven’t been to in years and a long drive that make a trip even better.