Airport Hijinks

On our last morning in New York, Arabella and I decided we should try to relax and unwind and so we went across the road from our apartment to Washington Square, an extremely picturesque park at the end of Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village.  We had a really lovely time sitting in the sunshine by the fountain, listening to the buskers and watching the New Yorkers walk by.

Looking out onto Fifth Avenue from our apartment window

Looking out onto Fifth Avenue from our apartment window

But then it really was time to leave so we walked back into the building we had called home for the past 12 days.  I had already packed and was ready to head to the airport but had ignorantly assumed Arabella had done likewise.  But she hadn’t and meanwhile I was toe-tapping trying to encourage her to hurry along so she didn’t miss her flight.

Washington Square

Washington Square

‘I’ve never missed a plane before, mum’, she said, as if it could never happen.

‘There’s always a first time so hurry up’.  Finally we were able to head down to the lobby with our suitcases bulging at around 30kgs (66lbs) each together with our bursting-at-the-seams hand luggage and hand bags.

The doorman!

The doorman!

What we didn’t factor into our timing calculations is that ordering a taxi at 2.45pm in New York isn’t easy.  That’s because 3pm is the changeover time so the first three taxis hailed by the doorman refused to take us.  It was some 20 minutes before we were finally away and by then I was feeling twitchy.

The traffic was a nightmare and the Van Wyck had almost ground to a halt.  While I sat there with a strained face, Arabella was so relaxed she was having a nap.

Having booked separately, Arabella was flying Virgin America at 4.30pm from Terminal 4 and I was flying American Airlines at 6.30pm from Terminal 8.  I said I would see her onto the plane then catch the Air-Train over to Terminal 8.  We struggled up to the counter and after Arabella produced her documents the woman behind the counter said, ‘You just missed it.  This flight was closed a minute ago’.  Arabella looked stunned and like she couldn’t comprehend what was being said.

Leaving New York

Leaving New York.  Our apartment building is to the left.

The woman said, ‘You can pay $50.00 to reserve a seat on the next flight or you can pay nothing and take your chances.  What do you want to do?’

‘What time is the next flight?’ I asked.

‘It leaves in four hours’.

‘But she has a connecting flight to China.  Would that give her enough time to make the connection?’

‘She’ll have 40 minutes’.

‘Is that enough time to collect her baggage and get to the other terminal?’

‘No, that’s not enough time’.

‘Well I’m flying American Airlines at 6.30, can she fly with me?’

‘I don’t have access to American Airlines’ bookings’.  Arabella started getting stressed.

I said, ‘She cannot miss this flight; she has a connection to China then another connection to Sydney.  If she misses this plane I’ll have to buy her another ticket all the way to Sydney’.  The woman became sympathetic.

‘I can get you on this flight but you will have to come with me now and you’ll have to leave your luggage.  But you have to come now.  Like right now.  I’ll get you through security.  What are you going to do because the flight is boarding and we have to leave now’.

‘Mum, can you take my luggage to Sydney?’  Un-bloody-believable.

‘Yes, okay; hurry, get going’.  And so we gave each other a quick hug and a kiss and said, ‘See you in Sydney’, and with that she was off, running to security behind the woman in the Virgin America uniform.  Meanwhile, I was looking for a trolley for the three suitcases weighing around 75kgs (165lbs) plus my handbag bulging because of an enormous toy for my nephew that I couldn’t squeeze into my luggage.

Washington Square, Greenwich Village

Washington Square, Greenwich Village

I hauled the suitcases onto the trolley then queued for the tiny elevator to take me down two levels for the air-train.   I was about to board the air-train when my mobile rang.  ‘Mum, I’m on the plane but I was so stressed at check-in that I forgot my hand luggage’.

I couldn’t believe it.  ‘What the (very bad word) do you mean you forgot your hand luggage?’

‘I don’t know, I just don’t have it.  Can you go and get it for me?’

‘I’m not there anymore.  I’m about to step onto the air-train’.

‘Mum, please’.  I kept her on the phone.  ‘See if you can get off the plane and meet me’.  I turned the trolley around and ran back to the elevator.  I pushed to the front of the queue telling everyone I had an emergency.  ‘I need to get on this lift, my daughter’s about to miss her flight, excuse me, excuse me’, etc.



I exited the elevator then ran with my trolley to the check-in counter.  I could see the bag; it was still there, all by itself and amongst all that airport security no one had noticed a loan bag sitting at the counter.  Never mind.  I screamed to the staff, ‘My daughter forgot her hand luggage; how do I get it to her?’

They looked stunned but said, ‘Go down to security’.

‘Watch my trolley’, and I shoved it at them.  ‘Where’s security?’ And I started running through the terminal.  As I neared security I could see a queue a mile long.  I ducked through the rows of black tape pushing through people yelling I had an emergency situation.  I reached the front of the queue and then I hit the TSA Agent.  Now there’s a helpful breed.

‘Mam, you can go no further, you don’t have a boarding pass’.

‘I have to get this bag to my daughter’.

‘Mam, you’re going no further’.  And like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown I was screaming the situation to him.  He remained stoney-faced.  Meanwhile Arabella was running from the plane to security saying,’Where are you, mum?’

‘I’m at Counter 10; they won’t let me through.’

‘I can see you, mum.  I’m running.  I don’t want the plane to take off without me; everyone’s on the plane’.

‘Just hurry; run faster’.  Everyone in the queue was staring at me.  Arabella found me but she was on the other side of security’.  ‘Mum!’, she screamed’.

‘I’ve got your bag’, I yelled.

The stony-faced TSA Agent said, ‘That bag’s not going through.  She’s going to miss her flight’.

I lost it.  ‘This bag is going through and she is not going to miss this flight; let her through’, I screamed.  Stunned silence from the crowd.  And reluctantly and slowly he ushered Arabella through security in reverse.

I handed Arabella the bag.  ‘Now run to the plane.  Don’t you miss that flight’.

‘Okay, mum’, said Arabella, all shaking and quivering.

And then the TSA Agent said to her, ‘You’re going to have to go back through security.  Take your shoes off’.

‘She just took her shoes off five minutes ago’ I screamed at him.

‘Mam, she’s going to have to take off her shoes’.  So Arabella flung off her shoes and threw the bag onto the counter and ran through the radar and yelled, ‘Love you, mum; see you in Sydney’.  And she was shaking like a leaf and there were tears in her eyes.

‘Get on that plane and I’ll see you soon’, I yelled.

And then the sympathetic woman who helped Arabella at the check-in counter approached me with my trolley of luggage and told me she would see Arabella onto the plane.  I could have hugged her.

Sitting by the fountain

Sitting by the fountain

When I was on the Air-Train, Arabella phoned to say that when she arrived at the plane, all hot and sweaty from the ordeal, heat and stress, the pilot was there to greet her.  He stood at the door of the plane and said, ‘Welcome aboard; I wasn’t going to leave without you’.  And Arabella hugged him.

How lovely are the staff at Virgin America!

I had just a bit of luggage to wrangle

I had just a bit of luggage to wrangle

As Arabella took her seat, I began manoeuvering all our luggage back to Sydney.

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  1. What crazy adventures.

  2. ooh my goodness! What an ordeal! I’m so happy you both made it on time and safe and sound. And that pilot sounds like a sweetheart too. A great ending to a great adventure, it is.

    I’m happy that New York didn’t leave you on a low note and am glad you enjoyed your stay here (Despite those icy cold airport security agents >.< ).

  3. Oh my goodness, you guys never do things by halves do you?

  4. Oh Charlie that’s hilarious. I can see it!

  5. I felt like I was right there with you! Ha! Welcome to the USA and the ridiculous world of the TSA that makes everyone cringe when they have to fly somewhere. I am shocked they let you give her the bag and allowed her through. That was definitely a lucky break! Happy too that the ticket agent and pilot were so helpful and friendly. I wouldn’t want you to leave here on a bad note. I bet you needed a cocktail when you were finally seated on your plane! ~ April

  6. Charlie, how do these things happen to you?! Honestly, I don’t know how you both survived that without a nervous break down (maybe it came later). American airports are so daunting with their security restrictions and forceful staff, I don’t think I would have had the capacity to stand up to them and insist on bags (or daughters!) going through unusual routes. Thank goodness she got on her plane and the pilot was so kind, and I suspect in future, advance packing will happen.

    As for you, did you have to pay excess luggage for your multiple bags? An extra point of frustration if so!

  7. goodness I think you have me nervous just reading this post – how stress induicing! though it also had me thinking of times I had to make changes to international travel (once I missed a bus to the ferry from paris to uk, got the eurotunnel train instead and got there before my ferry – that was when I took one more look too many at paris) but the world doesn’t collapse and you learn how kind (and blocking) strangers can be and you tell the stories for years to come – hopefully this is a bonding experience between you and Arabella – at very least I imagine you will say to her once or twice, get ready quicker because I don’t want a repeat of your flight home from New York 🙂

  8. Whew! My heart is racing! Stupid airport security! What did they think she was going to do with that handbag anyway?!? Geez…. Of course they can’t be too careful these days, so many crazies out there! Glad it all worked out and you both made your flights! xo

  9. I’m curious how you managed together 75kg back on your own without paying! Qantas always screw me if I’m even 500g over. Maybe I need to start shouting at everyone:)

  10. So glad everything worked out at the airport in the end and both you and Arabella arrived home safely. Did not realized you were in NYC would have made an effort to take the train in to say “HI”.

  11. I guess Arabella will be arriving at airports three hours before every flight in future. What a nerve racking adventure.

  12. One day that girl’s got to learn the consequences of her actions. Without a mum to rescue her every time. But this was not the time.

  13. What a happy ending for such a nightmare–in fact,it was more like a series of nightmares rolled into one. So glad it worked out for both of you. My son has a rather lackadaisical attitude toward time that can sometimes drive me crazy, so I can sympathize. Luckily we haven’t missed any flights either.

  14. Wow, what an experience! You got me stressed while reading this, lol! It always feels great when you’re done will all the challenges. This just made the mom and daughter bonding stronger 🙂

    Gourmet Getaways

  15. Oh, my gosh, I would have had a heart attack! You sure worked your magic!!! Always an adventure with you and your crew. Welcome home!
    P.S. I’m visiting m parents in Colorado after a quick trip to Florida. Cannot wait to be home for good for a while! xo

  16. Never a dull moment Charlie! It would be nice if Arabella learnt her lesson… but somehow I don’t think this will be the last plane she nearly misses 🙂 How helpful were most of those people, I’m betting they don’t often have people stand up to them either 🙂 I’m so glad you had plenty of time to make your flight, and plenty of time to rest on the way home xox

  17. Goodness, I was getting all nervous reading this, what an adventure. Looks like you turned into a mama bear when you needed to and avoided even more problems. Great ending!

  18. Wow… there is a lesson in everything!

  19. Oh my gosh Charlie! What an adventure!

  20. You have an adventurous life, Charlie! But where is the end of the story? How did you get all that luggage back?

  21. OMG Charlie this is absolutely crazy! Your nutty adventure makes me genuinely never want to travel just because of problems like this! (but then I think of the world, and I can’t resist of course!)

    Choc Chip Uru

  22. All I can say is OMG you are a good mum

  23. Ps I think I would have had a heat attack

  24. How stressful was that … I hope you had a stiff drink when you finally got on that plane!

  25. That is some adventure! I sure hope Arabella learned a lesson from all that.

  26. Not sure I would have handled it quiet as calmly as you Charlie. Arabella certainly tests your resolve on a regular basis. Think I shall have a glass of wine now to calm my nerves for you.
    Have a wonderful week ahead.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  27. Gosh, Charlie! I’ve had a few unpleasant experiences in airports over the years but this beats them all. I’m glad it worked out for your both. Arabella is very lucky you were there for her and could take her luggage — not to mention get her handbag to her. Had she been traveling alone, it cold have been much worse. Once again, Mum to the rescue!

  28. OMYGOSH<
    I'm nervous just reading this. Seriously.
    I've been there & know what you're talking about, Charlie!
    Xxx LOVE!

  29. After all that, I’d have given the pilot a kiss too. 🙂

  30. I am hoping this is one adventure you don’t have to repeat! Glad Arabella made her flight- but woa – what a load of luggage for you to handle! That lady at the counter who helped Arabella and then you with your trolley was a Godsend! Safe traves back home Charlie!!

  31. After all the stress, I hope you had a cocktail or two on the plane and a long sleep on your way home.

  32. I’m going to call on you when I want something done. Do you hire your self out?. Just dont bring Arabella I couldn’t srtand the stress Charlie. Glad you made it home ok X

  33. What a story. I bet Arabella never ever again delays packing in a timely matter. You were beyond blessed to encounter such caring staff at Virgin America.

    I thought you were going to say you were detained by security…

  34. Your young and beautiful and charming daughter…doors do open for her. LOL! She’s a kick, Charlie. I don’t know how you do it. I’m such a “rules follower” we’d probably still be circling the airport. You are just amazing to me. Where I’d be saying “what an ordeal” I think you’re probably now saying “what an adventure.” Of a lifetime! 🙂

  35. OMG… who knew when you were sitting in Washington Square enjoying the view, huh?

  36. I almost got nervous breakdown reading your post, Charlie!!! Glad everything work out at the end. You always have interesting and unforgettable stories to tell friends and readers on your blog!!


  1. […] Arabella finished hugging the pilot, she stepped onto the plane and the door was closed behind her.  Organising her own itinerary, she […]

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