We made it to Norway! But only by the grace of God, the ultimate travel agent.
Heidi (r) and me (l), flanking our cousins Mette, Kjetil and Eirild.
This was a highly anticipated trip, not just for David, our daughters (Serina, 9, and Sophia, 7), and me, but also for my sister, her family, and our mother, AKA “Mormor,” for whom this entire “birthday celebration” trip was planned.
Our Iceland Air flight was scheduled to leave Dulles at 8:40 p.m. July 12th, getting us to Oslo around noon July 13. I had scheduled a flight from Huntsville to Dulles, getting the four of us to DC via Atlanta on Delta by 5:30 p.m. My mom was on a U.S. Air flight, set to arrive at Dulles around the same time.
Or so I thought.
I’m a terrible travel agent. Factor in the ADD and I have no business planning big trips, especially ones involving other travelers.
We checked my mom in first at the Huntsville airport. Tried to, anyway. “You were on the 10 a.m. flight. The later flight was canceled,” the U.S. Air rep told my mom. “Sorry. Everything else is full.”
Dread started creeping into my gut as I vaguely remembered a conversation about her changed flight. David, the girls and I were on a Delta flight so I headed over to that counter, handing the agent our Travelocity flight info. After a minute, the representative said, “You’re scheduled for a flight on July 26, not today.”
Suddenly, a deluge of dread filled my spirit.
Girls with second cousins they met for the first time.
I had scheduled the flight to Dulles for the 26th instead of the 12th, with the return flight to Huntsville correctly scheduled on Sunday, July 27. I had been overwhelmed by the scheduling assignments and failed miserably.
“We are on an 8:40 p.m. Iceland Air flight from Dulles to Norway. Is there another way to get us to D.C. on time?” I pleaded.
She scrambled, her fingers attacking the computer keys like the Williams sisters would a tennis ball, eventually sighing, “I’m sorry. I can get you there at midnight. That’s the best I can do.”
What about Atlanta, Birmingham or Nashville?
At this point, I’m bawling openly. I look over at my mom sitting patiently and peacefully in the airport-issued wheelchair at the U.S. Airways counter. The children are sprawled out on the floor, quietly coloring.
I call Iceland Air, explaining the “situation.”
It would cost $3,500 to put all five of us on a flight the next day. A costly mistake on my part; one I could ill afford.
Full raccoon eyes now. The agent apologized. It was our only option. Poor scheduling is not covered in Iceland Air’s flight change policy.
I prayed, asking God to help me out of another mess. The good Lord had bailed me out many times before. Would He pull another miracle here? If not for me, for the girls and my mom, to whom I eventually explained the expensive option.
“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s only money.” This from a retired 80-year-old woman on a fixed income.
We were waiting for the return call from Iceland Air’s agent when a flurry of energy burst out of the Delta counter. “We might get you there through Dallas. Hurry. Get your luggage over to the American Airlines ticket counter.”
It was leaving in 30 minutes. We would go through Dallas, arriving in Dulles in time to catch the Iceland Air flight. The U.S. Air agent, aptly named Mr. Jewell, jumped on his computer, managing to get mom on the same AA flight.
Somehow we got in our seats and took off with American Airlines, arriving safely in Dallas.
The view from Kjetil’s home in Sande.
The Silver Lining
When we got on our flight from Dallas to Dulles, my mom and I were seated next to each other. Reflecting on the situation, she said, “I wasn’t worried. I was praying.”
I had prayed, too, I told her.
Then I realized something else. In our original plan, Mom was on her own on the flights to Dulles. Turns out she had been dreading the solitary travel from Huntsville to Dulles. Her neuromuscular disease has progressed, greatly compromising her mobility.
“This is the silver lining,” I told her. “This is way better than our original itinerary. God is a much better travel agent than I am.”
All along, God was in charge of the entire situation. Isn’t He always? He worked through the travel agents to create a scenario that was better than the one we created for ourselves.
How often do you see teams from three different airlines working collaboratively to correct a scheduling error for which the customer alone was responsible?
Thank you, God
Thanks be to God. I believe in miracles — on land and in air. Of course, I’m still holding out for one more. There’s the case of the missing suitcase — my missing suitcase. Stay tuned…