Surprise! The Airport

I picked Eilis up at school, and then Brighid, same as every other day. We headed down to my mom’s, and while they entertained the kids, I brought in Brighid and Granuaile’s bags for the weekend. Eilis didn’t seem like she noticed I was bringing in anything more than a diaper bag and some toys, so that was great. I told Eilis, who really wanted to stay with Dram and Pop-pop that we were going to pick Daddy up at the airport and I had a surprise for her. We headed over to Philly, and all the way there, I debated where to park. I had made a reservation at a place called Pre-Flight. Ann had given me a coupon for the parking there, and the big advantage to their service is that they had indoor parking. It was raining, and waiting inside for a shuttle to come seemed preferable to waiting in the pouring rain. I thought about using the airport lot in case we were running late – it would be right there next to the terminal. But, again, the rain thing was a factor, and the lot there is HUGE. The shuttle there runs every 15 minutes, so we potentially could be waiting a long time in the rain. Lastly, I brought directions for Pacifico. My qualms there is that you just show up, no reservations, and they bring you in your own car to the airport. But what if there is a long wait? There’s not a lot of time between my flight and my airport arrival, so I don’t want to add too much extra with waiting for a ride over. I settled on Pre-Flight and I’m so glad I did! The coupon Ann gave me makes parking here the same price – actually about .50 less – than the airport lot – and it’s inside with shuttles every 5 minutes!

We arrived, pulled into the parking lot, and I was so glad we were on the first level. There are a ton of cars here and it’s going to be so easy to find my car! We were the only ones there, and I didn’t see a shuttle, so I got a little nervous and was going to wander outside to make sure we just waited by our car for a shuttle, but as soon as I made the decision to walk, a shuttle came – less than 3 minutes from when we arrived. The driver was VERY nice, welcomed us, asked if he could help with bags (we had none, as Jim took them with him), and gave me a red slip of paper on which he had indicated where I was parked. The ride to the airport was about 5 minutes, and he pulled right up to the Southwest terminal. Easy peasy 🙂 Eilis was beyond thrilled. She loved riding the bus, and thought she was quite the hot stuff being the only one on the bus. This was shaping up to be a great surprise!

Because I had no luggage and had printed my boarding passes, we could proceed directly to security. Thank goodness! The line for security extended nearly all the way back to the baggage claim area. Eilis mentioned a few times how she was not having fun and she hoped her surprise was not having to wait in line all this time. We finally got through the line, and I headed to gate E8, where our flight was supposed to depart from. We were about 1 hour from our flight, and I know with the cattle call lines at Southwest, we might be cutting it close to wait in line at Burger King for dinner. When we arrive at the gate, it’s not our flight number on the board, and I don’t see it on the TVs that tell you when your flight is. I walk over to the lady at the podium and find out that everything is delayed, and my 7 o’clock flight is now not leaving until at least 8:10. Plenty of time for that Burger King line.

We pick up dinner for Eilis, and I decide not to brave the line to get a cup of soup at the next food counter. The airport is mobbed and everything is crowded. We have Eilis’ dinner after about 20 minutes, and we walk back to see how our gate seating is, and we’re glad to find two seats together. She happily tucks in and is soon finished her burger and fries, and I have eaten a protein bar. We find out that ours is the third flight out of this gate, and by 7:45, the one ahead of us hasn’t left yet. People are getting agitated, but the weather is bad, so there’s not much anyone can do.

Eilis still doesn’t know what’s going on, and is bugging me about when Jim is arriving. She has done all of the puzzle pages in her coloring book and we’ve played a bunch of tic tac toe, and she’s getting tired and very bored. They finally call for boarding for the flight ahead of us so we move over closer to the window so she can see the airplanes coming in and taking off. We are also closer to the line for group A over here, and that’s the line we’ll need to be in.

An announcement comes over the PA to let us know that our plane will be boarding shortly, and I tell Eilis let’s call Dram and Brighid and tell them that she’s at the airport going to Disney World. Well, she thinks we’re playing a joke on them, but whatever their reaction was to her, she sits straight up and says to me, “Wait a minute. Are we going to Disney World?” Yes. “On a plane?” Yes. Well, the phone went down and she starts jabbering away about how excited she is and how she can’t believe it. She has a grin on her face that goes from one side to the other and she is beyond excited, but she has now just abandoned the phone. I tell her to pick the phone up and she’s yelling in about going and now she is really excited.

They finally board the flight ahead of us, and we hop into line A. We are behind a single woman who is drinking beer and a group of 6 Drexel med students taking a weekend off to go to Orlando. We should have no trouble getting a good seat up front, and when we finally board at 9 o’clock, we are in the second row. Eilis is playing with the windows, playing with the pull down tray, looking outside, looking behind her – she can barely contain her excitement. There is a bit of delay as we prepare for take off, but I show her that she can see the line of airplanes ahead of us waiting to take off.

You can’t complain about the Southwest in flight service. I’ve always had a great experience with them, and this time was no exception. They very promptly took drink orders and we were served the drinks, Ritz cracker chips, and a bag of peanuts in no time. Eilis’ cup came with a lid and straw, which I didn’t even know they did on an airplane. Eilis drank a few sips and ate her crackers, and was asleep in a matter of minutes. With all the children on the plane, our attendant checked on Eilis, asked if I needed any other drinks or snacks, and was really very pleasant.

We arrived in Orlando exactly at midnight, and Jim was waiting for us outside with our rented Jeep Liberty. Eilis got excited all over again, and I really feel optimistic that the trip is going to go great. Eilis has such middle child syndrome, feeling like Brighid gets to do everything and go everywhere and Granuaile gets all the attention. This will really make her feel special.