Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Offending Security

We caused a bit of a ruckus at the airport today. Not a great place to have a ruckus nowadays, to be sure, but we honestly didn't mean to do so. It wasn't severe, well, not in our eyes. We weren't pulling an Olsteen or anything like that.

No, we just assumed something we probably shouldn't have assumed.

Last week, when we started our little merry adventure back in Chicago, we missed the early boarding announcement for those traveling with small children. As we stood in a really long line to board, I noticed, after some time, that it wasn't moving. Nobody was boarding. I made my way to the front to find that they were boarding those who needed extra time: passengers in wheelchairs, parents with children and carseats to get strapped tight. We quickly left our place in line and boarded with this group.

Today, on the way home from vacation, the gate was crowded. No seats available. No seats offered - and yet there was one seated woman in particular who seemed peeved that Zane was walking around. Fun. I love irony.

As the time of our departure drew near, we noticed that a line had formed for boarding and that a family with two small children was making their way down the ramp to board the plane. Immediately, I recalled last week, and thought, "Oh, we missed the announcement!" and made our way down the ramp.

Yes, in hindsight, I did find it odd that there were no airline personnel at the top of the ramp to take our boarding passes, but I figured they were at the bottom, at the door leading to the whatchamacallit thingamabob that one walks down to reach the plane. Nope. We reached the door only to find TSA agents. Well, they don't take boarding passes. Where was everyone?

They let us through anyway. They let us through anyway.

We made our way through the whatchamacallit thingamabob that leads to the plane only to be met halfway by two attendants walking towards us from the plane while making circular motions with their fingers. Circular motions which meant "turn around".

"Why are you down here?"

"Um, we saw the family boarding, and assumed you had started early boarding."

"We haven't."

One of the flight attendants then muttered, "Oh, crap." and hurried off back upstairs to the gate.

At that point I thought the second attendant would ask us to turn around, or would at the very least ask to see our boarding passes.

Neither happened.

"We haven't started boarding yet."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Should we . . ."

"Go on ahead."

She never once looked at our boarding passes.

We realized at that point that we had made a snafu. And so had they. There were no airline personnel at the top of the ramp to stop us from heading down the ramp. TSA didn't stop us as we made it to the whatchamacallit thingamabob. The flight attendant didn't stop us from boarding.

But, obviously, the "Oh, crap" response from the male attendant made it clear that someone had messed up.

Just as we got settled on the plane she came for us. And she was mad. And in charge.

"Did you board before you were told to board?"

They could have removed us from the flight.

"I'm sorry, we didn't realize you hadn't started early boarding. We just assumed you had when we saw the other family with children boarding."

"This is considered a huge security offense. Next time, do not board until you hear the announcement."

"Yes, Ma'am. Thank you."

And then I shut-up. Just shut-up.

Now, I admit, we made a mistake. We done wrong. We made an assumption about the situation based upon our boarding experience back in Chicago a week earlier, but clearly, clearly, today, someone had left their post. Anyone could have gone down that ramp. We weren't being sneaky. How could we be? We were loud. And clunky. And in plain sight. Two adults holding two carseats, two bags, a restless Zane, and Harper, following behind lugging her own carry-on while complaining that her arm was tired from pulling her bag, but that she couldn't pull it with her other arm because that was her non-dominant arm. We were not hard to miss.

And yet, there was no one to stop us.

Not even the TSA.

Hmmm . . . now that's good work.

And then, of course, mid-flight, I attempted to take my potty training boy to the lavatory at the front of the aircraft. We were in seat 8. It made sense. Um, no. One in coach does not venture past the first class curtain. Even though Zane was squirming, I was sent to the back of the plane.

They were glad to be rid of us.

I almost expected to be met by TSA back in Chicago.

Wonder who got written up because of us?

Notice that the name of the airline has not been mentioned in this post. I've learned my lesson on that one.

1 comment:

Jason said...

One Christmas Eve I was late for a connection in Denver. I should have completely missed it, but luckily it was delayed. I looked at the board and it said the flight was "boarding". I ran as fast I could to the gate, saw the door open, and ran down the walkway to the plane. I was stopped halfway there by an angry airline employee who informed me they weren't boarding yet.
This was pre-9/11 so it wasn't a capital offense yet, but it was kind of embarrassing as all the other passengers were sitting in the waiting area watching me run on to the plane.