Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Angelina!!

Today Angelina turns 3 years old!!!! I will post picks later.

We Made It - Finally....

Exactly 53 hours from the time we left my parents house until we arrived at the American School in Dalian, nearly twice as long to get back. Our flight into Shanghai was 5 hours delayed (arrived in around 12:30am Sunday China time) so we missed our connection to Dalian that left at 8:30pm. To our surprise there was a United employee holding a sign with our name on it as we deplaned. They had already re-booked us on a flight in the morning and had reserved a hotel room for us, a very big relief that this had been taken care of. Standing at the baggage carousel in Shanghai I was not sure what to expect - did all 4 bags make it or not??

As noted in the previous post, there was a flight (401) from Phoenix to SF that was to arrive by 9:38am Friday that we were told our lost bags would "likely" be on. The weather in SF from 4am until around noon was terrible - the rain and wind was tropical storm category 1 hurricane level, but everything on the boards was saying on time for arrival and departure including the Flt 401 from Phoenix. At 10:15am Flt 401 still was not on the ground and most flights at this point were either grounded or re-routed to land somewhere else. I decided to take Pam and Angelina to the International Terminal so they could get us checked in and I would go back to US Airways (20 min walk) to wait and see. At around 11:30am Flt 401 amazingly landed in SF after circling for 2 hours. There were 2 other Intel employees on that flight that looked green and said everyone was throwing up and the pilot had 2 aborted landings before they finally made it. The Rubbermaid with Angelina's Christmas gifts was the first one to pop out on the carousel so I called Pam and said everything looked good, but as I waited for the bag with her clothes it never showed up. So I communicated with US Airways baggage folks again to make sure they had the right contact info for us and headed back to the International terminal. Got the Rubbermaid checked and we made our way through security to wait for our 3:15pm departure to Shanghai.

Around 2:30pm Pam got a voice mail from US Airways that the other lost bag was in their claim area, so we returned their call and told them to deliver it to United for check in - and they said NO we are too busy. So I went back out of security and spoke with United to see if I had enough time to collect the bag and get it checked in - they said NO and I would probably miss the flight to Shanghai and advised me to go back and wait, I called Pam and told her I was coming back. But, as I walked away I looked at the departure board and it was now showing a 4:05 pm departure so I knew I had at least 1 hour and decided I was going to risk it. I ran (literally) back to US Airways and sure enough there was this 68 lb bag with a years worth of Angelina's new size clothes (hand me downs from my sister). The agent I had been dealing with asked where have you been? We have been trying to call you? I am thinking what we spoke to you about 20 minutes ago??? Told him that we called them back and they claimed they were to busy to help us and that we were already checked in on our other flight....Anyway, I was not going to have an argument with this moron so I bolted back to United and got the bag checked by 3:20pm - the look on the United agent's face after they told me not to do this was priceless. Then I called Pam and she had been wondering where I was - all of this on almost 36 hours of no sleep. Anyway, that last bag did not make it to China but is being tracked and on its way. United said they would either deliver it our house or at a minimum the Dalian airport. I am fairly confident that it will show up here just not sure when.

Not a pleasant experience, but we were probably due a travel blowout after having pretty good luck over the last few years. We just took some deep breaths and tried to go with it - sure was glad for the free drinks on the International flight because they went down quickly and the three of us slept 10 of the 13 hours to Shanghai. In contrast, my boss made it back last night from Portland and I am guessing his trip was less than 24 hours. Maybe we should have pushed everything a day after that first cancellation............

Friday, January 04, 2008

We're Trying to Leave, But Can't :-(

Seems Mother Nature and the Airlines don't want us to make it home anytime soon. Started with United Airlines cancelling our Friday morning flight and not finding out about it until Thursday afternoon. After several phone calls we got United to book us on a US Airways flight to San Francisco Thursday night so we could keep our Friday noon flight to China on United.....when we got to the check in counter in Phoenix Thursday night it took 45 minutes for them to check us in because they did not show Pam in the system as ticketed - they finally figured it out.

Once past that the TSA worked us over for another 35 minutes - went through all 3 carry-ons (took my toothpaste - dammit) and had us thinking we would miss our flight out of Phoenix at 11pm. Could we really look like terrorists and a threat??? You know, some folks in the airline industry call the TSA a "Thousand Standing Around." Fitting, but I have another expression that cannot be posted here.

Well......that flight was delayed 2 hours for weather so we were not going to miss the flight and everything still looked alright for the next leg. We arrived in San Francisco at 2am (PST) and only 2 of our 4 checked bags made it. The 2 bags that did not make it contained all of Angelina's clothes and her Christmas presents....of course US Airways cannot tell us anything about there location - figures.

So instead of going to a hotel for 6 hours of sleep, Pam and Angelina slept in the airport from 3am until 8am. I could'nt sleep so stayed up hoping to get a jump on the jet lag ahead of us. The first flight from Phoenix this morning, that we are praying our other bags is on arrives around 10am which only gives us 2 hours to collect, haul across to the International Terminal and check-in. This is really not enough time, but just checked and the United Shanghai flight appears to be delayed from 12pm until 3:15pm......which will make us miss our flight to Dalian. One challenge after another.......we had a great time in Phoenix, but this is return experience is really putting a damper on the whole thing.

If our bags don't show up from Phoenix, Pam and Angelina will probably stay in San Francisco through the weekend until they are located and fly a few days after me. If we all go on without the bags, pretty much a guarantee that we will never see those bags because the logistics on getting them to Dalian by an airline that does not fly to China (US Airways)is a nightmare. Oh did I mention it cost us $100 in overweight fees for those 2 missing bags....insult to injury.

We got alot of great photos while in Phoenix that I will post another time.