Travelling with kids and infants is difficult in the best of times. Travelling by plane with kids adds another degree of difficulty, making that plane ride international adds yet another hurdle to success, and finally throw in an international terror incident and you have the recipe for one of the worst travel days ever.
In August 2006 there was a terrorist plot to detonate liquids carried on board flights heading from the United Kingdom to the United States. The day that plot was foiled by the British Police happened to coincide with my families move from the United States to Great Britain. Myself, my wife, my 2 year old, and my three month old were all scheduled to depart Dulles International Airport with a final destination in Manchester, UK.
This is how the nightmare unfolded.
1. 4am wakeup call from concerned family members asking if we were aware of the incident that just took place.
2. A few hours calling travel offices and work offices to verify if we should still fly or if specific instructions needed to be followed
3. Drive to the airport 3 hours early to be met by a security line that stretched close to ¼ mile long.
4. Made it through security and boarded my initial flight to Philadelphia. Kids loaded, car seats loaded, baggage on board. 5 minutes before departure we are asked to deboard (just myself and family) as they don’t believe we will make the connecting flight so they have rebooked us on another flight. I unload the family, yell at the ground crew to get my stroller off the plane (my luggage is not removed) and leave the plane.
5. Arrive back in the airport from the plane to find out the woman that asked us to deboard has disappeared and has not given us any information on where to go or what plane we are on. 3 hours of waiting in lines (with hundreds of other stranded passengers) and calling different travel offices we find out we were not rebooked on another flight but we could get on the flight to London that was leaving at 8pm that night. 14 hours in the airport before we actually leave on a flight.
6. We finally board the London flight, which took of 3 hours late, with our carryon luggage and stroller and are finally off for London. We land in London with plenty of time to catch our connecting flight to Manchester. However, we sit on the runway in London for 3 hours meaning we have missed our connection.
7. We finally get off the plane and are met at the end of the pathway by an attendant that informs all of us that the UK is not allowing ANY carryon luggage on its flights. We make the decision, having nothing but the clothes on our backs, that we are done flying for the day and we leave to put in a lost baggage claim.
8. After spending an hour trying to find the easiest way to get the 4 hours north to our final destination we load into a cab and head to the train station. A reasonably smooth train ride ensues where we are met by our sponsor at the train station.
9. 29 hours of travel later we arrive at our hotel apartment without food, clothes, or any idea when either will arrive.
We arrived, we survived, and we thrived (after a few days of recovery and realization that the travel was actually over). All in all, that 29 hours was the worst (barring an actual crash/injury) travel day I have ever had or ever hope to have.