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Travel Nightmare

Not our nightmare, fortunately, but still a painful one to observe. We arrived at SeaTac airport at 5:35 this morning and found ourselves first in line to check our bags at a Delta Airlines counter behind a family of four surrounded by bags. They seemed like a pleasant group, with patient and peaceful children maybe 10 and 8 years old. I heard the father explain to them that no, they wouldn’t be able to fly today. That didn’t make much sense. They were at the airport after all, all packed and ready to go. Maybe it was some sort of inside joke, something he’d been teasing them about in the preceding days. Surely they were going. They were at the counter talking to the agent, clearly finishing up the bag check process. But then he said again that they wouldn’t be going, adding that he had screwed up and let Mommy’s passport expire.

Oh gosh. Can you imagine? At that point I looked over to the Mom and noticed her ashen face. They were presumably booked on the same flight we were on, Delta’s early non-stop to JFK, which is always full of Europe-bound passengers switching at JFK to overnight, overseas flights. But they wouldn’t be flying to Europe tonight.

The agent gave them a piece of paper, said this is the number to call, and off they went, dragging their bags away. Can one get an expedited passport renewal on a Saturday? Will they have to wait until Monday for the renewal and still later for new flights? I can’t bear to think about it.

Fortunately, all our paperwork was in order. We boarded on time, took off, and thanks to the combination of strong tailwinds and a padded schedule (Delta’s never going to be late with this flight), arrived in JFK 45 minutes ahead of schedule. We couldn’t have had a more pleasant trip.

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