Trip Start Nov 23, 2007
35Trip End Dec 11, 2007
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We landed a few minutes later than scheduled at Chicago O'Hare, and we had a relatively short period of time before our connection to Harrisburg. First, we had to collect all of our luggage. Thank goodness we had a ground crew member to help move Grandpa around on a wheelchair. Our packages were the last to come down the baggage claim belt (Remember, we just got off a Boeing 747, so there was a LOT of luggage), but one was missing. The odd-sized package that had a statue in it was delivered to us by an airline employee separately. That delay took us to nearly the time we were supposed to be taking off. There was an ice storm brewing outside. Apparently, the worst had already hit in prior days, but another around was about to hit later this evening. This was yet another weather calamity we were deftly avoiding on this trip (in addition to the typhoon and earthquake).
It took a rather long time to get through Immigration and Customs, and coordinating all of our luggage, in addition to the insane number of handbags and miscellaneous bags that Mom and Grandma were carrying, was nearly impossible. We had 4 large carts of items, which was not pleasant to push around O'Hare. We finally made it through to the United counter, where we were told that the later flight to Harrisburg had been oversold. They would have to fly us via USAir to Charlotte, NC to connect to Harrisburg. We re-checked-in our luggage and rode the train to the terminal 2 stops away where we received our actual plane tickets from the USAir main desk. We went through Security again and went to our gate. Having a little time to kill, I ate a tuna salad sandwich from the nearby food counter and waited for our plane. It was running late. Would this affect our connecting flight out of Charlotte? I certainly did not want to sleep in the Charlotte airport, but my grandparents would be the ones to suffer the most if they had to sleep there.
I noticed that the next gate over was the gate from which the later flight from United was departing (the one that was oversold). I did not mention it to Mom because she had told me it was oversold. Nearing the time it was doing final boarding, Mom noticed this and hurriedly attempted to get us onto that flight. Turns out, there WAS room on the flight. So the USAir agent tried to issue us tickets. Unfortunately, we had to be "unseated" from the United flight first. We ran back to the United desk to get that done. Then we ran back to the USAir desk. The gate was closing, and the USAir agent could only get 2 on board, Grandma and myself. Ugh, that would not suffice. Back to the United desk. Because we had already been "unseated", our seats had been given away to other last-minute passengers, so we had to get tickets reissued with different vacant seats. At least Grandpa and Grandma could sit together. A minute after we received our re-issued tickets, the gate called for pre-boarding. We hopped onto the plane by virtue of Grandpa's handicapped status and prayed that weather conditions were not bad enough to prevent us from catching our connection and that our current plane could be turned over quickly enough to make up some time in flying to Charlotte.