A Missed Flight = Atlanta, Not Rome

The backpack with my passport stood forlornly on the asphalt driveway of my North Poway home as we, oblivious to its cries, sped to the airport for our flight to Rome.  So while my kids went through security to wait at the gate, my husband rushed home to rescue the forgotten passport and I waited anxiously at the gate, fingers crossed.  Our late start left us enough time to make it through had we remembered everything, but cut it dangerously close given that we had not.

My backpack ... the one holding my passport, wallet, money... just a few things I might need in Italy

Along with my passport, computer, ipad and kindle, my wallet, money and iphone also were in the forgotten bag, and I had no watch, could find no clock, and had no means of communicating with either my kids at the gate, my husband rushing home, or the airlines or travel agents.  I’m not good at waiting, and I worry, a lot.  It was not a great 45 minutes but, showing more maturity than I knew was in me, I did quite well.  I stayed calm, and kept my eyes on the escalator that, hopefully soon, would bring my husband up from the car, backpack in hand.

At some point the check-in agent paged me to let me know my stepdaughter and son were boarding the plane.  A few minutes later, she paged to inform me that the flight was boarding.  I didn’t realize at the time that meant — “We have given away your seats, and you are now without hope.”  Nope, I still held out hope that we could make it.  A few minutes later my husband appeared, clutching the bag to his chest, running, anxiously, to me and the check-in counter.  And that’s when the agent said our  flight had left.  But we knew it hadn’t left, because our daughter, on the flight, was on the cell phone with my husband and telling us they hadn’t yet taken off.  That pissed off my husband because he felt they were lying to us — they were saying it had left when he knew it was still on the ground.  But eventually we learned it didn’t matter, since they had given away our seats.  But that wasn’t the worst news.  No, that came when they told us that the LAX-Rome flight they had mentioned earlier, that would put us in town only two hours later, was not available because we were flying on frequent flier miles, so we could only get on it by paying $7,000.

My husband had AMEX on the line, I was pleading with the agents, trying to tell him what I thought he should tell AMEX, shouting out every option that came to mind — other airlines, other flights to Atlanta to meet our connecting flight.  It was only 7:45 in the morning, surely there were other flights that day leaving for Rome?  Ultimately, it was all to no avail.  Had we taken the next flight to Atlanta — the one that gave us only 15 minutes to get across the Atlanta airport and to our flight — we might have made it given that it turned out they sat on that flight from Atlanta to Rome for 3 hours on the tarmac due to weather.  But it’s likely we would not have made it, anyway, as they boarded on time, and so our seats, again, would have been gone before we could have made it on.

It’s times like this that you wish you were Someone Important.  Someone they might hold a plane for, even though they insisted We Do Not Hold Planes For Anyone.  You know they do.  Just not for us.  And since it was our fault, we had only ourselves, ultimately, to blame.  Why did I not check that all the bags were in the car?  Why had we not left home  20 minutes earlier, so we’d have had time to go back home and get back and still make the flight?  Why, with all the flights on all the airlines crisscrossing the planet, was there not one that could get us from San Diego to Rome at any point that day?

Ultimately there was nothing to do except book the same flight, the next day, and more miles out of our account.  So my stepson drove us back home — after having woken up before dawn for the first airport trip, then rushed back home and back to the airport with the missing backpack, now driving us back to Poway again… and he didn’t even complain.

We’d been awake since at least 4 a.m. in our last-minute rush to make it for our 7:30 a.m. flight, and now, tired, depressed, and anxious about our kids unexpectedly ending up in Rome by themselves for a day.  Since we had assumed we’d be with them we hadn’t set up their ATMs for international withdrawals, given them spending money, or shared our maps or plans for Rome.  And the vouchers for our Underground Colosseum were in the binder with me, though given our new flight they would be the only ones who could take it.  And it was non-refundable, non-changeable.

Ultimately after we’d been home only an hour we realized we were better off flying to Atlanta later that day even though we couldn’t make it all the way to Rome– at least that way we wouldn’t have another early wake-up call.  So my poor stepson had to make yet another trip from Poway to the airport, to drop us off for what was now a 1:30 p.m. flight to Atlanta.  The good news was my daughter was at the airport by now, as my ex-husband had dropped her off there for her 2:00 flight to London with her school group.  I thought at least maybe I could see her while we both waited on our flights.  But she was at the end of a long security line and didn’t make it through in time before my Atlanta flight boarded.

We made the best of the situation, telling ourselves it would be a good bonding experience for the kids and a good break in the long flights for ourselves.  The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast, caught up on some work, and flew out, finally, on our long-delayed flight to Roma.  Italy, here we come!



  1. LOL, great recap tylerite!

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