Get ready, this is a very long story.
When Mr. Faultier got up and told me our flight had been canceled, I assumed he was joking. It wasn’t a very nice joke. Then I checked my Delta app. Not a joke.
The app prompted me to click a button to reschedule. I did, and the page was blank. Mr. Faultier tried Delta’s toll free line, but it didn’t open until 8:00 am. It was a little before 6:00 am and the family’s taxi was coming at 6:30. He tried the paid line for the ticket counter. Also closed until 8:00. Fabulous.
It was determined that our best bet was to go to the airport anyway and work out our options there. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to get anything that day and we’d all have to find a way home from Frankfurt. That would be annoying if it were just the two of us, but we also had eight other family members with us as well.
We managed to get the most helpful employee at the Delta counter. She tried to keep us together as well as possible and when that didn’t work, she helped us make the most efficient groups.
Mr. Faultier and I, an aunt, my sister-in-law and her two-year-old son ended up heading to Detroit. Three others to Chicago. And two more to Miami.
Delta handed us over to Lufthansa, but somehow didn’t activate one set of tickets in our group. So while we were getting our bags sorted out, Mr. Faultier had to run back to the Delta Terminal to get the ticket situation fixed. We then realized that we could only check in for our first flight, but we hoped that wouldn’t be too much trouble when we landed in Detroit.
We eventually made it to security where I had to get a pat down and Mr. Faultier’s camera had to be more closely examined. My nephew’s stroller and car seat were also flagged for an extra look.
Once we got to the gate, we tried to rearrange out seats. Mr. Faultier and I were sitting next to each other, but everyone else was split up, including my sister-in-law and her son. They ended up getting our original seats and we were moved back to be across the aisle from Mr. Faultier’s aunt.
The plane itself was very nice. I think Lufthansa keeps their planes in good condition, so we had new looking entertainment systems and our USB ports actually worked. On the downside, food could have been better. But isn’t that how it always is with airline food?
Once we landed we had to wait for my nephew’s stroller, which we thought had been gate checked. Turns out it had been fully checked from the gate instead, so instead of being brought out with the other strollers, it was sent to the conveyor belt. We didn’t know this of course, so we were waiting until everyone else had left and I tracked down an employee who told us that no more strollers were coming off the plane.
That meant that we ended up at the back of the slowest moving integration line I had ever been in. They had two officers for the foreigners and two officers for the citizens. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring my family with me through the citizen line.
We got to watch a few people get pulled into the room aside for further questions, which only made me more nervous. The citizen line kept getting smaller while the foreigner line barely moved at all. Eventually all the citizens made it through and employees came over and allowed groups with children to go to the newly free officers. One of the few benefits of dragging a tiny human along on your trip. We were able to get through with fairly minimal hassle for US Border Control and retrieved our luggage. After checking with the customs officer, we made it to the conveyor belt to recheck our luggage only to be told that, because we were switching back to a Delta flight, we would have to change terminals with all of our luggage.
We had to drag all of our stuff to the small shuttle bus and take what seemed like an absurdly long trip to the Delta terminal. Then we had to check in, as if we just arrived at the airport. Unfortunately, because of all the changes made to our reservation, we couldn’t check in at the kiosks and had to do it all with an employee who, bless her heart, was very nice, but was just so incredibly baffled by the fact that we weren’t checked in but our luggage was tagged through to St. Louis that she slowed us down a bit more trying to figure it out.
We hopped over to the security line, which thankfully wasn’t too long. We didn’t have much time left before our flight at that point. They swabbed my sister-in-law’s hand for explosives while she was holding her toddler, because she was clearly such a risk.
When we got to the gate, only the standbys were still hanging around and Mr. Faultier’s aunt still had to get her seat assignment. There was a miscommunication about the boarding and I ended up under the impression that she wasn’t going to be able to board and Mr. Faultier was going to stay behind in Detroit with no phone or means of contact to get a new flight. Cue meltdown. Thank god for wonderfully kind gate attendants. The woman at the gate got us sorted out and on the flight.
Despite some completely understandable crankiness on my nephew’s part, the second flight was fairly uneventful. We made it to St. Louis about five hours before we were originally supposed to arrive. My parents helped us get everyone to the house they had rented, got us taco bell, and took Mr. Faultier and me back to the airport to await the others.
First to arrive were the two from Miami. In a wonderful turn of coincidence, my uncle who was coming home from a business trip was actually on the exact same flight. Luggage took forever, but even after we got it, we still had around an hour before the next flight would arrive. It was meant to arrive around the same time as the flight from Miami, but it was delayed, of course. So we went to iHop and my dad impressed everyone with the German he picked up from and app on his phone.
We went back to pick up the last Germans, and my brother and his girlfriend met up with us at the airport to help with rides. Shout-out to my fabulous family for making this trip successful! Luggage took forever again, but we eventually got everyone to the house a bit after midnight.
What a first trip to the US for everyone! Thankfully, when they went home without us everything went perfectly. We, however, we not quite as lucky, but this post is already incredibly long. I wish I had more pictures to break it up a bit, but I didn’t have time to take any!
Does anyone else have a travel nightmare story?