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Thursday, June 10, 2010

unaccompanied error

When I was 11 years old, my parents put me on a plane with my 13 year-old sister and 6 year-old brother bound for the United States. We were in the process of moving from France to Holland and my folks decided it would be easier for everyone if they sent us to our grandparents to play with our cousins in the summer sun while they stayed behind and packed up our old house and moved everything to the new house, and then joined us when the big job was done. Effective thinking, for sure, but it required us 3 to buck up and make the long trip without them, left under the care of the airline officials. We had to wear these big pouches of paperwork around our necks with U.M. in huge letters on the front to declare to the world that we were unaccompanied minors. It wasn't so bad, really. We got to ride on the cart with the old people through the terminal. We got to spend our layover in a big playroom with tons of toys.
When said layover ended, a flight attended dropped us off right between two gates and told us to have a nice trip. Megan and I looked at each other and slowly guided our little brother into one of the lines, unsure if we had picked the right one. The gate attendant quickly took our boarding passes, ripped off his portion, handed us back the stub, and we boarded the plane. Shortly after take-off, a highly pixelated screen showed our little airplane leaving a diagram of France and headed toward a target in the United States labeled "Memphis"...we were supposed to be going to Atlanta.
Megan and I started whispering frantically to each other that we must be on the wrong plane. As scared as we were of this happening, we were too shy to ask the attendants such a silly question. So we bribed our baby brother with candy to confidently proclaim that he was wondering if this plane was going to Atlanta or not. The attendants laughed, the nearby passengers smiled at the quizzitive little boy, and Megan and I chided our little Benji for even asking. Of course we were on the right plane.
It's been a family joke for years, but today I feel vindicated: because a destination-sized mistake really could have happened. It happened to these kids. Way to go, Delta. You needed some good PR.

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