The flight home

On Wednesday we flew back home to South Carolina.

We scheduled our taxi to pick us up at 10:15, but he was 20 minutes late! Luckily we had budgeted an hour to get to the airport. It took us only 30 minutes to get to the airport exit from our hotel… But then there was airport traffic! We were stuck in traffic for about another 20 minutes waiting to get to the place where our taxi could drop us off.

When we got there, I immediately asked for wheelchair service. In Charlotte (and legally they are supposed to do this) they will provide wheelchair service directly from the curb to take you through check in. But here they said no. I needed a boarding pass to get wheelchair assistance.

So we stood in line for about 15 minutes waiting to check in. By the time we got up to the counter, I was in a fair amount of pain. Then the check in process took forever! They agent didn’t know what to do about Brad’s wheelchair. He didn’t realize I had service dogs instead of pet dogs. And he forgot to check Brad in for all three of his seats! Luckily Brad and I were on it and eventually after another 10 minutes we were all checked in.

So we headed over to the wheelchair area. There was a line that only got huger as we were there. We only waited 5 minutes standing there in line to check in for wheelchair assistance. Others waited longer. When she checked us in, she told us the wait would be 20 minutes for a wheelchair.

Looking at the time, we knew that the wheelchair person wouldn’t have time to take me to the relief area for the dogs or to the bathroom for me like they are supposed to. So we walked to the relief area and bathroom ourselves while our 20 minutes was passing by. Luckily both dogs happily used the astroturf in the relief area!

I was really not doing well by the time we got back to the wheelchair area! Then we sat and waited. And waited, and waited. Eventually it got to the point where we didn’t think Brad would make it through security and get to the gate in time to board (they want him to board first), so we decided he would go on ahead. Luckily just as he was leaving, a wheelchair turned up for me.

It was super easy to go through security this time. My wheelchair pusher was great about managing my stuff, so I just had to carry the dogs through. There was some confusion about if I had to take their gear off or not, but eventually I got across the fact that service dogs don’t have to remove their gear. We didn’t even set off the alarm!

It took forever as usual to screen Brad (even though Brad says he was much faster than average), and then we were off to the races to get to our gate. We arrived 2 minutes before boarding began, so they just took us down and got us on the plane right away.

This time my seatmates weren’t interested in talking, so we sat next to each other in silence the whole flight. Brad was across from me instead of behind me this time, so we were able to talk a little bit—well at least make gestures to each other!

The pups did great during takeoff. But there was a lot of turbulence on the majority of the flight, so Alice was uncomfortable. She was fairly nervous for most of the flight while it was bouncing around unfortunately. But by the end she had calmed down and was napping.

The flight attendants were super nice to us once again since we had brought them candy bars. They kept coming to check on me and offer me whatever they could. Brad was able to get one of their very large bottles of water instead of a little cup, which is good because we didn’t have time to fill his water bottles and hydration is really important for him. But we’re not sure whether the flight attendant decided this was okay because he realized there might be a disability-related reason for it, or because he figured it was fine since Brad had three seats!

Other than turbulence, the flight was pretty uneventful.

When we landed in Charlotte, Brad opened his phone to track his wheelchair using the AirTag he put on it. So we knew it was at the right airport. But it wasn’t moving, or when it did move, it moved away from us.

They got us both off the plane and we waited for 20 minutes for Brad’s wheelchair to be brought up! The supervisor for wheelchair assistance was involved and everything. They were all super nice and really worried about why it was taking so long and where it was. They were happy we were able to track it so they knew at least it was at the right airport!

Eventually the wheelchair arrived and my pusher got us to baggage claim. Then I asked to go outside where there is no relief area I can find. Instead she took me to a relief area inside of baggage claim! It was one of the nice ones with three tall stainless steel sides and astroturf, but otherwise open to the air so it didn’t smell or anything. Both dogs used it just fine!

Then we had to wait for Brad’s dad to come pick us up. Again there was a ton of traffic at the airport, just like at LAX. It took about 15 minutes for him to make it from the cell phone lot to pick us up. We were all very happy to see him, and to get in our car and make it home! Brad’s mom had made us supper, so we were able to eat tasty healthy food as soon as we got home and got the dogs done running around the yard.

It was a pretty good trip overall! I’m happy we went to Long Beach, and happy that Brad was able to make it using the three seats so he could lie down. Now we just need to finish recovering!

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