Friday, July 8, 2011

Maui: Mimi and the No Fly List

My husband, Alan, is the ultimate vacation planner.  He keeps a pile of travel books on the floor next to his side of the bed.  Sometimes he sits outside in the shade with our 10"X14" spiral book of Mapquest maps - the one with "detailed urban maps" and a "comprehensive index" - pouring over the map of Utah planning yet another trip to Arches, Zion and Bryce.  If he plans a month-long trip to Europe, he can tell you a great lunch spot for the 3rd day of the 2nd week that is next to the hotel metro stop.  "They make a great croque monsieur there!" 

During an anniversary trip to NYC, he called ahead for reservations at the River Cafe months in advance.  About a month before our trip, he wrote a letter to the restaurant manager explaining that since we would be dining in his fine establishment on the evening of our actual anniversary, we would love to have a table by the window so that we could dine with a view of the lights of NYC.  We arrived to a smiling hostess who greeted us with "Right this way Mr. Lackey!  Your window table is ready!  Happy Anniversary!"  He does an amazing job of handling all of the left-brained as well as romantic details so that my happy little right-brain self can come along happily skipping.  Lolly, lolly, lolly!

The trips with my mom are "all me."  I arrange the flights, hotels, tours, entertainment, ground transportation, Mimi's scooter rental, yada, yada, yada.  Alan makes a special trip to Barnes and Noble to select guide books for me to peruse.  He ends up reading them.  I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants traveler.  For the Maui trip, I called up a friend at a travel agency for help with booking the air and hotel package.  It was a total and complete luxury.  She even made our luau reservations.  Ahhhhh-LO-HAAAAAA!

The night before our flight to Maui, Mom, Kelly and I spent the night with my dear friend, Jill.   Jill is an old hand at transporting people to and from her house in Allen to DFW.  She knows the traffic patterns, the shortcuts, and the correct lanes.  She didn't even make fun of me when I said that I wanted to be at the airport at least 2 hours early because Mimi is a slow walker.

And so, the next morning we arrived at DFW a full two hours before our 12:15 flight.  Smooth as silk was our commute from Allen, TX.  Jill pulled up right in front of the curbside check-in for American Airlines where there was absolutely no line.  We all hugged, thanked, and took pictures of our precious hostess.  "Bye, Jillie!!  Aloha!!" we called as she pulled away from the curb!  

The porter gathered up our luggage and then our photo IDs.  We stood at his little counter laughing and talking about luscious fresh pineapple and dancing the hula.  He tagged Kelly's bags.  Then, my bags.  Then, his brow furrowed as he typed furiously on his keyboard saying, "Hmmmm."  It was at this precise moment that I began to pine for Alan and his slick travel acumen.

"Well, Ms. Kinzbach (that's Mimi), it looks like there's some sort of glitch in the system.  We'll have to take your bags inside to check you in," he said.  "Hmmmm," I said.  We were two hours early and there was absolutely no line at the American Airlines "third class" check in counter.  Trying to relax, we laughed and wondered if Mimi was on some sort of bad boy no-fly list.  Ha! Ha!  "Mimi on a no-fly list!?  That's a hoot!  Yep, that little woman can take you down!!  She's got a travel umbrella, and she knows how to use it!"

At the counter, Man Behind Counter typed in mom's name.  "Hmmm," he said.  My heart began to beat more vigorously.  "I see that Carolyn Lackey and Kelly Brewer are ticketed passengers.  We have no record of a ticket for Helen Kinzbach," said he.  "Huh?!" I said as sweat quickly sprang out on my forehead and the theme music to the Twilight Zone began to swirl around in my very confused mind.  "Nope.  There is no ticket for Helen Kinzbach," Man Behind Counter repeated.  I whipped out a printout of our flight information that my travel agent friend sent me and showed him the seating assignments on the front page of the printout.  

"See...there she is.  Helen Kinzbach - row 34 seat B.  She has a seat on the plane, so she has to have a ticket," I explained slowly like he was a 3rd grader foggy on how to carry the one in multiplication. "Yes.  I see that she has a seat assignment.  I also see on my computer that she has no record of payment," he countered equally as slowly.  For the first time, I actually turned the page over and read the rest of the printout.  Ticket for Kelly.  Ticket for me.  No ticket for Mimi.  I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Man Behind Counter advised me to call my travel agent.  Quickly, I dug my cell phone out of my purse and dialed her up.  She asked to speak to Man Behind Counter so I handed over my phone.  They chatted, and he handed it back saying, "She wants to talk to you."  Gulp.  My TA apologized profusely for the mixup and told me that she had to call her ticket broker because the ticket was supposed to be in the AA system.  "I'll call you RIGHT back!" she assured me.  Begin humming the Final Jeopardy "think" music while you envision Kelly escorting slow walking Mimi WAY across the cavernous ticketing area to a seating area.  "Does this mean I don't get to go?" Mimi asked over and over.

As I waited for my TA to rescue Mimi, I stepped away from the counter but hung really close to Man Behind Counter .  I didn't want him to forget about Mimi and the Bucket List Trip to Maui.  People trickled in, checked their bags, and walked around me casually chatting as they meandered over to the security line.  We had PLENTY of time, but I happen to suffer from Pre-Flight Anxiety Syndrome.  My heart begins to race in the airport parking lot.  I get all sweaty palmed until all of my "party" has made it through security, been to the bathroom, bought magazines and snacks, and is seated obediently by the gate preferably in the seats closest to the boarding door.  Capitalizing on my PFA Syndrome, Alan usually waits until the plane begins boarding before trying to keep a straight face while saying, "I'm going to go see if I can find today's Wall Street.  Hold my boarding pass."  Hardy.  Har.  Har.

"It should take a little while for the ticket to enter their system," my TA said as she explained the computer glitch, "Call me if there's a problem!!"  After about 10 minutes of standing there shifting from foot to foot while obsessively checking my watch, I eased over to Man Behind Counter and told him that if the problem couldn't be resolved quickly, I would just slap my credit card down and buy Mimi a ticket.  By golly, my mama was getting on that plane to Hah-Y-Yah!  "Uh, ma'am, you really want to wait until her original ticket is in the system.  Otherwise, you'll have to pay today's price for the ticket as opposed to the price you paid last November," he said trying to calm me, "It's all going to work out."

Over the span of about 40 minutes since we hugged Jill goodbye, we finally had Mimi's boarding ticket and headed towards the security line.  As we marched towards the security line, my TA called me to again apologize profusely for the unnecessary delay.  She had gone through some of the upcoming trips of her customers, and the glitch had effected some of them as well.  Because of Mimi's experience, she was able to identify and rectify their missing flight tickets.  I assured her that nobody was hurt and that we would be in Maui sitting on the beach within a matter of hours.  It was all good.

As I handed Mimi her boarding pass, she looked at me and asked, "So, does this mean I get to go?"  Yes, Meems.  You get to go.  That is if you're not forgetfully carrying a concealed weapon or a suspicious 6 ounce bottle of shampoo.  You are GOING to HAH-Y-YUH!  

PS.  The glitch with Mom's ticket happened somewhere in the vast belly of the AA computer.  Thank goodness for a travel agent who figured it out and got 'er dun!!!

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