On Saturday 10th October, we said goodbye to our furry little lady, as Sarah's parents had very kindly offered to have her stay while we were away, and we headed to the airport. Couldn't believe the trip was finally here! We had an 8 hour trip, then a 2 hour layover in Washington DC, and a final 6 hour flight to Los Angeles. Easy, right?
It turns out not. When we arrived in Washington-Dulles airport, the place was RAMMED - five flights had just come in at once, and it looked like the customs area wasn't prepared (though surely this happens all the time at such a large airport?). We chose to go into the 'foreign arrivals' lane as it was significantly shorter, as usually we'd use my American passport to go in the faster moving 'Americans' line. And that's where we stood. For an hour. There were so many people, the border control had to ask each one of them so many questions, fingerprint, etc etc - it took so long. There weren't people around to ask what we should do, as our flight was closing imminently, and when we eventually was able to ask someone, we were told that everyone is waiting, and we would need to 'deal with it' if we missed our flight. Well okay then!
When we finally got through, we ran to pick up our bags and drop them off again, as you often do when entering the USA and transferring. 'We can make it!!' We thought. We waited with our bags to be checked for about 10 minutes, then shot off down the hall to make this flight.
Until we turned the corner, and realised we had to go through security again. Even though we were already in the airport! And guess what? That line was crazy long as well. We chugged 3 cans of Diet Coke so they didn't throw away our liquids, and waited for another 40 minutes as we kissed our chances of making our Los Angeles connection goodbye.
When we eventually got through, we went straight to United customer services - absolutely gutted. We were two of MANY who had missed their connection due to this poor organisation, so this line was pretty long too. We were told we could be booked onto the first flight of the next day. We were in tears at this point, as what kind of way is this to start our honeymoon? On top of that, United wouldn't pay for a hotel as they didn't see this as their fault (though it was a United terminal, so they could have planned better than having so many planes come in at once!!).
So we'd paid for a night's accommodation in LA as well as a hire car we wouldn't be able to pick up, and on top of that we'd have to pay for a hotel or spend the first night of our holiday on airport seats. Our only hope was standby on a very full flight later that evening - so we went to wait for it, feeling like the chances were slim to start.
We began chatting to a woman waiting to get on the flight, who was very friendly and wished us luck, We were 2nd and 3rd on the standby list - could it happen? Everyone boarded, and we went up to check the situation a few times. We were told 3 people hadn't yet checked in, and the first standby had been given a seat. Hope!!
We were called up to the desk, so very nervous. We were given the news - there were 5 free seats on the plane!!! BUT. The plane was at weight limit, so they weren't going to let anyone else on. Well, I hate to say it, but we both burst into tears, right there in front of the check in desk. The woman who told us looked at us like we'd grown two heads, and then left the other two to it.
I tried to comfort Sarah, and calm her down as we had made a small spectacle of ourselves. I rung my mum, who very kindly offered to pay for a night hotel for us, and I was just about to agree, when...
The man at the desk came over and asked us to stick around. He said the pilots had ordered a re-weigh especially for us, and there are no guarantees but not to go anywhere. I told my mum I'd call her back, as we waited with baited breath.
A few minutes later, we were confirmed - there was room for us on the flight!! WHAT!! We hugged both the men behind the counter and thanked them, and ran down the hall to the plane, feeling like we'd won the lottery. Sarah popped her head into the cockpit and thanked the pilots personally, and I got a high five from my friendly lady as I headed to my seat.
We couldn't believe it. We were going to be there only a few hours late!! Our holiday had officially STARTED!!! Next stop, LA!!