14 June 2011

Anna Signs

I really enjoy some of the artwork Anna has been making. Like this one about her summer camp class at daycare...

Or these, that she wrote to me a few weeks ago when she had a really bad toothache. It turned out she actually had two teeth where the nerve went bad and they had abscessed. One already had a root canal and the other one already had a filling, so we ended up having those two teeth pulled. She has since also lost her two front top teeth. So there are a lot of holes in her mouth right now. This letter and drawing are really pathetic and I felt so bad that she was in so much pain that weekend.

She also makes a lot of signs and tapes them to her bedroom door. Like these two for her brother.

Oh the joys of having a little brother, ha!

13 June 2011

Our US Airways - Delta debacle in Kauai

*Warning: this post is long. But here's the whole saga of how we tried to get home after our vacation*

We were scheduled to come home leaving on Friday night June 3rd at 10:00 pm Hawaii time. We had a late checkout at 2 and then we had been killing time by going to Spouting Horn and the botanical gardens. We decided to head towards the airport at checkout the Kilohana plantation - I had seen that they had train rides and that sounded like something to do.

We arrived and it was busy. Very busy. Apparently there was a luau about to happen and the train was boarding. It was about 5:20. We debated on whether or not to ride the train but decided against it because of the cost. We moseyd over to the planation house and were invited to do a rum tasting that was about to begin. I like rum. Sounded like a great idea.

We had just finished the rum tasting and were browsing the gift shop when I got a text from my mom that said she got a call and they had cancelled our flight.

I honestly thought they were joking and texted back something like "why would they call you?"

"Good question" she wrote back. I literally thought she hadn't thought her joke through and laughed it up with Kevin.

A few minutes later I got a text from the airline. The flight had in fact been cancelled. Thank god I just did two shots of rum.

Instead of purchasing our gift shop items we headed out to our rented Jeep. I called the number (Call #1 to US Airways). A nice woman informed me that flight 47 was cancelled and we could be rescheduled on the same flight on Saturday night (24 hours later). I told her we might just go to the airport. I asked if there was anything else leaving on a different airline. She hesitated. Um, let me check something. I don't remember exactly what she checked but she said there wasn't anything available. We agreed to reserve seats on the next flight out on Saturday night so that we had something and that we would go to the airport to see about getting something earlier.

Our flight wasn't until 10 pm and it was about 5:45. We thought we had plenty of time.

We arrived at the airport and found the US Airways ticket counter was closed. The sign says they open 3 hours before the next flight leaves. Only one other couple was in line.

I called US Airways again (call #2). I asked about being rebooked on another airline. A woman helping me was looking up and found another flight option. Apparently in order to rebook your flight on a different airline they have to put you on hold and then call the other airline on another phone line. I approved another flight option and she put me on hold to make the reservation. After about fifteen minutes of holding a man answered from the other airline. Somehow I had accidentally been transferred to the other airline. He said there was no way to transfer me back to US Airways and he couldn't make the reservation for me, US Airway had to do it. I had no choice but to hang up after that wasted time and call back.

I called again (call #3) slightly frustrated this time. I explained my situation again and again a woman looked up alternate flight options. She found one on Delta leaving at 8:45 (actually leaving earlier than our original flight) and arriving around 4pm on Saturday (about 3 hours after our original flight). Sounds good. We booked it over the phone.  She gave me a confirmation number AND our two TICKET numbers. This took about 30 minutes. So it was about 6:15 around this time.

We headed over to return the Jeep at the rental car place. We had to stop and fill up with gas first. We took care of that and headed back to the airport. I called my mom to tell her we would be getting home a few hours later. It was about midnight in KC when I called. Sorry, mom. It must have been around 7 Kauai time because the US Airways desk was open now and the first couple that was in line when we arrived earlier were the only ones being helped.

We tried to check in at the kiosk for Delta. It told us to see an agent. Uh oh. One Delta agent went ahead and tagged our bags. "See you at Gate 7" she said. She then instructed us to stand there (away from the Delta desk) while the ticketing agent worked on our boarding passes. She then took off to go work at the gate to take tickets.

We waited. And waited. And waited. Something about the phone agent not "pushing" the tickets from US Airways to Delta. The ticketing agent was able to work both Delta and US Airways counters and they were connected right next to each other, so she kept going back and forth, back and forth. Then she would make a phone call. We waited. We watched more passengers show up for the US Airways flight to find out it was cancelled. We watched the US Airways ticketing agents rebook people on the next day's US Air flight. Meanwhile the Delta line began to back up. The agent working our tickets started to help some of the passengers waiting for Delta because we were not standing right in front of her desk and she was waiting for the US Airways ticketing agent to do something in the computer.

I walked up to her and interrupted "Are you still working on our tickets?" Yes, she said. She had one done but she was still working on the other one. We waited.

It then become apparent she was also helping another family that appeared to be in our same situation. I confirmed again that she was still working on ours too. Yes, she said.

We waited. She helped a few more Delta passengers. I finally walked up and asked her if we were going to make the flight. I was starting to get nervous because it was about 8 pm now and the flight was beginning to board, but we hadn't gone through security yet. She said we still had 30 minutes.

Finally she "split" our tickets and was able to do whatever she needed and printed our boarding passes.

We gave our luggage to security and went through security. We were in zone 4 boarding and they were only boarding zone 1 so I used the bathroom.

We finally were boarding and handed our tickets over. The scanner beeped strangely and they asked us to step aside. Double uh oh. They looked at us and knew exactly who we were from the ticket counter. The woman who had tagged our luggage was the one scanning tickets.

A woman was on the phone standing at the ticketing podium where they scan the tickets. They were also having some sort of issue. She was arguing with the Delta agents who were trying to use their cell phones to call someone about that family's problem. Everyone in the boarding area was now on the plane except for us, the family with the woman on the phone, and the standby passengers.

They start calling standby passenger names. I protest. They suddenly "fix" whatever the problem was with the family on the phone. She takes their boarding passes but doesn't try to scan them I notice. Then they aren't sure if anyone is in our seats. They're not really sure why our tickets won't scan. She sends one of the agents onto the plane to see if anyone is in our seats.

We wait. It is now 8:30 or so.

She comes back and says the seats are empty. Then the agent starts calling the standby passenger names. She essentially says they don't have time and that are tickets haven't been pushed to them by US Airways. "But YOU did the moving. You worked on it for two hours. What else could we have done? Who is going to watch my kids? Now everyone else is booked on the other flights and I won't be able to get out." She said it needed more time. More than two hours? But you helped other passengers while we waited! She says she's sorry but clearly she didn't care. She called all the standby names and they gave our seats away right in front of us. Then they closed the door. And I just cried and cried cause I knew there was nothing else leaving that night. "But my luggage is on that flight" I cried.

Then they sent us back to the US Airways counter because that is who our original flight was with. I began tweeting my anger and frustration.

We arrived back at US Airways and again, they recognized our name. Uh oh, they said, look who it is. She tried to "take the tickets back" from Delta (although I thought that Delta didn't have the tickets and that's why we couldn't board, but whatever). She messed something up and had to call the help desk. Finally they got it straightened out and rebooked us on a flight at 9pm on Saturday night on US Airways. They gave us a hotel and meal vouchers. If we wanted to rebook on another airline we had to call. They gave us a business card (same number I had already called three times and the instructions I followed to do so earlier, which didn't work out for me). Delta replied to one of my tweets but I let them know we were trying to work it out with US Airways. I filled out a customer service form on both Delta and US Airways sites via my iphone. US Airways replied that they would contact me within 4-6 business days.

We waited for the airport shuttle.

The Kauai Beach Resort gave us toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant. We went up to the room. I was too upset to sleep. We decided to pay for internet access and starting looking for other flights. We found quite a few that were available. If we could get to either Honolulu or LA we could get to KC somewhat reasonably. American Airlines had quite a few flights.

I called again (call #4 to US Airways). He knew right away we were trying to rebook from flight #47. Apparently he had done quite a few. I specifically asked about a few flight numbers on American from Kauai to LA, LA to Dallas and Dallas to KC. He put me on hold and called them to ask. But then he came back and said there weren't any seats available on the flight from LA to Dallas. Okay. I hung up and went to bed.

I woke up at 3 am to a rooster outside. They are everywhere in Kauai but I really wanted to kill that one. I realized it was about 8 am in KC so I called my parents to let them know we were not on our way home. I went back to bed.

At about 8 am I got up and started looking for flights again. I found a few more options on American via the Orbitz site. I called again (call #5!). "I can tell there are seats available on Orbitz" I said. We got rebooked at 2pm.

Kevin took a shower but I declined. I didn't have a hairbrush. I washed my face. Luckily I had a hat in my bag and my contact lens case because I thought I would sleep on the airplane the night before. Kevin had a carry on bag with him but it was full of dirty clothes. I considered buying a cheap swimsuit at the gift shop to lay out.

We went to breakfast and used all of our meal vouchers in one sitting. We had two $5 vouchers for breakfast, two $5 vouchers for lunch and two $10 vouchers for dinner. You couldn't even buy cereal on the menu for $5. We spent $30 on breakfast and then walked around their pool and headed to the airport. Checkout was noon so we didn't really have anything to do anyway.

I wasn't optimistic that this would work. We checked in at the kiosk and it told us to see the ticketing agent. Uh oh. We told him our sob story. Oh yes, I know what to do he said very confidently.

He wrote a bunch of numbers down and apologized for talking to himself. Then he said it was all fixed and he printed our boarding passes. But I wasn't going to get excited until I was on the plane and pushed away from the gate.

Miraculously it worked. But the flight schedule sucked. I slept maybe two hours on the flight from LA to Dallas, and the whole flight from Dallas to KC (which isn't very long). I really wanted a donut from Dunkin Donuts when we got to Dallas. But I didn't want to talk to anyone.

I was happy to be home but it was a day later. We arrived at KCI at 8:45 am on Sunday. Exhausted. We went by my mom's and picked up the kids. We came home and Kevin immediately slept. I went and picked up the dogs and then went grocery shopping. I got the kids a pool because it was so hot. Hotter than Hawaii. They played in the pool, I sat in a chair and drank a red bull. Kevin mowed the grass. And then I fell asleep in the chair. I moved to the couch inside and then I napped.

I'm still not sure I've recovered on the sleep schedule. I don't know if the whole fiasco was US Airways fault or Delta's fault. I think it is shitty that they will not rebook you on another airline in person, that you have to do it over the phone, but that the phone people don't know how to do it right, so then it tied up the ticket counter anyway, and then it didn't even work. The whole system seems inefficient. Why do they have to put you on hold and call to see if a flight is available on the other airline and then rebook you. Hello, 21st century, can we not do this online somehow? I had to be my own advocate. I feel sorry for old people or even my parents who probably would not have been able to figure this out. How is this right? I still have never heard from US Airways even after my tweets and customer service form.

I followed all of their instructions and none of it worked for me. I was patient, I didn't cause a scene like some passengers when they learned their flight was cancelled. But none of it paid off for me. Where did it get me? They were never forthcoming to find an alternate flight for me. Thank god I had internet access. I have every app downloaded from every airline now. I had to find my own flights.

On American. Who was at least able to get me a ticket to board a plane to get home. Thank you at least to that nice young guy at the American counter who knew how to write all the numbers down and process it correctly. Because of you I made it home to my babies.

12 June 2011

Happy 10th Anniversary to us!

Can you believe Kevin and I have been married 10 years?

My scanner isn't doing those pictures any justice. We look so young.

To celebrate we took a trip back to Kauai, which is where we went for our honeymoon.

When we went 10 years ago I lost my voice for the first time in my life. I had gotten sick a few days before the wedding. I accidentally threw my retainers away on the airplane. We stayed at the Sheraton at I remember sleeping a lot. We were exhausted. We took a helicopter trip around the island (I almost threw up), hiked to a hidden beach, and went to Wailua falls.

This time we did a lot more.

First, I should say, we flew to Hawaii for free. My awesome company gave me 2 roundtrip tickets for my five year anniversary (two years ago) of working there. It is supposed to be continental US but they were sweet enough to make an exception. Since we didn't pay for the air fare, Kevin surprised me by upgrading our tickets from Phoenix to Kauai to first class! I actually ended up sleeping a lot (we had gotten up at 3 am to leave). Did you know they use real silverware and dishes in first class? I got a hot meal - that was salmon with a glaze, rice and veggies. I apparently slept through the cheesecake. You get a pillow and a blanket. You get two trays to put stuff on. It really is a sweet deal.

We stayed at the Koa Kea - one of only two five star resorts on the island.

They upgraded us to an awesome suite.

And delivered champagne and flowers to our room.

We of course immediately headed to the beach. Kevin surprised me by giving himself a new wedding ring (he hasn't had one for two years when he lost it).

We saw a monk seal (endangered) on the beach.
View from our balcony.

The next day we drove to the north side of the island. Which required crossing many one lane bridges. Like this one.

We hiked a difficult trail .5 mile and then watch schools of dolphins swimming in the ocean, one of them doing flips in the air.

We did a lot throughout the week.

We went zip lining.

We went on innertubes down the old irrigation tunnels for the old sugar plantations (which don't exist anymore). Sorry no pics of this excursion.

We went kayaking and then hiked to the "secret" waterfall.

We went to Waimea Canyon.

We toured the Coffee Company.
We went to Spouting Horn.
We also snorkeled and I laid by the pool.
We ate at some of the most wonderful restaurants. And got a 50 minute couples massage. I also took a nap one day.

It's hard to complain about Hawaii but it did rain more than I remember, it was very, very windy and the traffic was worse than I remember.

Most people would agree that the worst part about Hawaii is leaving. But in our case that was especially true. Next up I'll tell you about our saga of trying to get home...