We walked into the Little Rock airport and entered… THE TWILIGHT ZONE! OK, not quite, but it was the most congested, disorganized, chaotic ticketing area I’ve ever dealt with. There were massive lines and not enough room for all the people. We did self check-in, where you entered yourself into the computer and then the attendants basically yelled your name until they found you to place the baggage claim stickers on your stuff. We had to beg them to notate infant in arms on our tickets. They didn’t seem to think we’d need it, but I’ve had enough security agents check it on my ticket in the past, that I wasn’t going to go without it.
Next we had to drag our luggage over to the security scanners. Now, I remember this being common when I flew in the months following 9/11, but most airports have abandoned this cluttered system for something much more civilized. But in Little Rock, they still have it in place. I felt really secure when the guard yelled out to the crowd waiting to deliver their luggage to him, “if your bags are unlocked, you can just leave them!” So we piled our luggage on top of the already built up mounds of baggage that they had yet to deal with. I’m not paranoid or anything, but anyone could come along and shove anything into a random bag… makes you wonder about the “security” of their security system.
We were already feeling like frazzled cattle being herded around, but the actual security lines definitely were the icing on the cake. In most airports, security is an orderly and dignified (besides the fact that you have to practically undress) process. But Little Rock was sticking to the cattle mentality, with a security guard shouting (yes, shouting) directions about what needed to go in little plastic bags, and threatening that if we didn’t do it right, he’d make us go back to the end of the line and do it all over again, complete with listening to his speech again. Once he was done shouting at each group and felt they were properly educated he’d release them to go through the actual security check point. The metal detector felt gentle after that treatment!
With all this chaos, we felt tired before we even started flying. We finally boarded our plane to Memphis and settled in for the flight. But such ease was not to be. We had started to taxi out when the pilot cut the engines and informed us he had bad news. There was a weather situation in Memphis and our “wheels up” time was an hour and a half. When you are flying by yourself you say, “That stinks, hope my next flight is also held up by the weather, I’ll just read my book.” But when you have a 4 year old and a 1 1/2 year old, you think, “My life is over.” Thankfully they let us deplane briefly so the kids got to stretch their legs, but when we re-boarded, it still took us another half hour to get in the air.
We finally arrived in Memphis and sure enough, our next flight had also been delayed by the weather, so we assumed everything would return to normal. We boarded that plane and sat for awhile and then the Captain got on the speakers and said he had bad news… due to lack of a ground crew, our flight was canceled!
Chris was the first person in line with the gate agent, trying to make new reservations. They told him that they couldn’t get all of us on the same flight until Friday (this was Wednesday)! He assured them that wouldn’t work so they offered to fly us into Cleveland. We took it and Pastor was so nice as to drive the 2 hours to Cleveland and get us.
So we should have gotten home at 5 PM on Wednesday and instead we got home at 1 AM Thursday. But we were just glad to get home.
Of course they lost our luggage. It was supposed to appear in Pittsburgh the next day, but for some reason they sent half of it to Atlanta. This had us a little worried, since they talked about “if” it showed up from Atlanta, they would get it to us. They finally brought it to us late Thursday night. Thank You, Jesus!
Nothing like a grueling day of flying to end your vacation with.