Saturday, August 16, 2008


If there was ever a perfect visual representation of how we all felt when we finally made it home Tuesday night, this is it.

To be perfectly honest, I'd rather not re-live the craptastic rest of the trip, but in the interest of give the Paul Harvey-esque “rest of the story”, I’ll go ahead and give you a run down of what happened.

So when I left off, we were hanging out for another 8 hour layover in the Anchorage airport. Which, whatever, there’s internet and Starbucks, and although we were all tired and cranky and in desperate need of showers, we were able to pass the time relatively comfortably. We got the dog checked back in and through TSA (for the 3rd time in 24 hours…most inspected. Dog. Evar.), and made our way through security and to the gate. There were, of course, a whole bunch of people we knew waiting for the same flight as us, so we had a good time catching up and chit-chatting at the gate. When it came time for us to pre-board, we were really relieved to be getting on the plane, because we knew it was packed full of all the people that were scheduled for that flight, plus all of us on the morning plane that circled and came back. JUST as we were handing the gate agent our ticket, we heard the worst sound possible…our names being called over the P.A., asking us to come to the desk.

Let me just preface this by saying I have ALWAYS had nothing but good luck with all of the Alaska Airlines staff people I’ve had contact with…compared to other airlines I’ve flown, they seem to try to go out of their way to be helpful, from the flight attendants to the desk agents to the people who answer the customer service phone lines, I’ve always been really impressed with the level of service we’ve gotten. That’s why I’ll chalk up the attitude of the person at the desk to stress, likely from a long few days of dealing with stranded Alaskans and tourists due to the volcano situation…but this one specific b!%@# was just plain rude. And it’s not just that she was rude, but I have the distinct feeling she was either trying to pull one over on us, or just plain lying. And if you know me at all, you probably know how I react if I feel like someone’s trying to screw me over.

So we get out of line and rush over to the desk, and of course, Sara’s already worried, stressed, and starting to cry…because really, there’s no positive reason that you can be called to the desk at that point. Well, Miss Desk Lady informs us in an accusatory manner that we had “told the airline that our dog’s kennel was a ‘400’ size when it’s actually a ‘500’”, and because there’s 7 dogs on the flight and not enough room, we need to purchase a new kennel from the airline (at their inflated price, of course), or not be allowed to get on the plane. Yeah, you can imagine the reaction that caused. FIRST of all, when we first flew with this kennel 2 years ago, we HAD ALASKA AIRLINES MEASURE IT to tell us what size it was and what we needed to pay to transport it. SECOND of all, when we’ve booked or flights since, we’ve told them it was an extra large kennel. Is there even a size larger that we could book it as? And what’s with this “400” and “500” business? When I asked her these questions, she wouldn’t (or couldn’t) tell me.

Well, upon first hearing the situation, and Miss Desk Lady’s attitude, Sara got really upset, which set Isaac off crying (not that it took much at this point), and I just about lost it…enough to be willing to fight a little bit not to get bowled over, anyway. I’m not sure if she was expecting us just to say ok, we’ll pay for a smaller kennel, and then pay to have our regular kennel shipped, or if she thought we’d just choose to spend ANOTHER 12 hours in the Anchorage airport, but I wasn’t about to do either until I was sure it was absolutely necessary. Long story short, there was another guy there that had two dogs in large kennels, and he took pity on us (or just wanted to quiet the couple with the crying baby) and offered to combine his two dogs into one kennel. This shut Desk Lady up, and she said that could work, but continued to be snotty with us, telling us that thanks to this guy “stepping up”, we could go ahead and get on the plane. Funny thing is, after all that, when we all got to Bethel the guy’s two dogs were in separate kennels, so no rearrangement or new kennels were even needed in the first place.

Aaaanywho, we made it to Bethel in one piece, got all our stuff (which was a relief, as I thought for certain the general mess in ANC, plus with the Bethel flights messed up that day, would have made for some lost bags), and over to JP for the charter home. JP was grumpy as usual, but he’s good and likes dogs, and with the cost of seat fares these days the charter’s not really that much more expensive. Plus, he stayed open for us (as well as another couple we know that had chartered to Quinhagak), which he didn’t really NEED to do. We couldn’t get a hold of anyone by phone to let them know we were on our way, which was a little stressful (to one of us, anyways), but we took off and got home and got a ride from the (new and improved!) airstrip just fine, making it home around 10pm…making for a total travel time of about 37 hours, personal records for both of us.

As for the rest of the week, there’s been a lot of unpacking, cleaning, organizing, etc. We returned to a few surprises at home, including a new floor in our living room (linoleum? I liked our carpet…), and one new window and our bedroom window completely boarded up. Sounds like some classy Nunap youth(s) were going around throwing rocks through windows in teacher housing over the summer. So after cleaning broken glass out of our bed as well as Isaac’s, washing sheets, as well as cleaning up after the folks who were doing “repairs” around the house (picking nails out of the carpet…I even found another two today :-/), we finally got to bed. Hey, at least the boarded up window means it’s dark in our bedroom, right?

School’s a whole ‘nother issue. I’ll probably post on that situation once it’s resolved. Basically, I have no idea yet if I’ll be working at all this semester, and the semester starts Monday. So yeah, to be continued…


The Smacca said...

You know, normally I'd get upset with someone publishing something about me getting upset, but I think I was well within my rights to cry in this situation. So yeah, I cried like a blubbering baby. And that's OK. Shaun got red-faced and angry. Also OK. Isaac screamed. I think it helped our cause.

All three of us were just a mess at that point. I think Loki was the only one doing OK, and he was sitting in his kennel on a cart out on the tarmac.

Vanessa, Wisco said...

I'm speechless. I'm pretty sure, had I been in the situation with the service bitch, I would've slapped the shit out of her. But then there's the situation of getting home...
If I had a billion dollars, I'd buy a plane just so you guys can make it back and forth without all that bullshit.

Christina. said...

Somebody give Vanessa a billion dollars damn it!

I had struggles too. Missed my Fairbanks flight. Delay in my Anchorage flight. Delay in my Bethel flight. No boat ride from Napaskiak as I was told was arranged. BUT... for me it was still only like 14 hours. Nothing near your ordeal. I am so sorry.

Flight karma though means you'll have a grand old time when you come to Anchorage for Thanksgiving with the rest of us, right? RIGHT?!!