The Joys of Non-Revving: Montana

Ready for vayCAYshun

A cooler than expected morning began with my aunt’s mantra, “We’re on vay-CAY-shun.” It originates from  a joke about Hotwire or other cheap travel sites at which backwoods folk can get four star hotels at one star prices. She doesn’t get out much, needless to say.

The whole process is nerve-wracking, wondering if we will get seats. Luckily, I can view the remaining seats online. The gate agents smiled as we approached the counter. “We’re flying standby to Spokane via Milwaukee and Denver”
“On a buddy pass?”
As he took our IDs and pulled our information, his raised eyebrows skyrocketed. “Milwaukee to Denver and then Spokane? Wow. That’s a long way, but you do have a better chance of getting out of Milwaukee than here [as opposed to going to Denver first].”

Writing is what I do onboard with coffee. Duh.
Descending through beautiful clouds into MKE.

It’s important to have as many options as one can when at the mercy of the nonrev gods. Our first flight was uneventful— we boarded the plane, not through a jetway, but by walking down stairs onto the ramp and up stairs into the airplane. My mother, in her sarcastic tone, said, “We paid $80 to get on an airplane by walking up a flight of steps?”

Arriving in Milwaukee was not a problem; getting out, however, was a feat. Both flights to Denver were completely booked, so we looked at going to other airports to get to Denver. Madison, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New York La Guardia, and Omaha were all viable options. The problem was not getting to these out stations, but rather getting into Denver— there was just no way. Apparently, Saturday is a short day on Frontier, so loads (on already full planes) were to the max.

Auntie settling in, being a diva.

One last option: San Diego. Hundreds of miles past our final destination, it was the only way we were to get out of Milwaukee. We already knew that we wouldn’t get into Spokane that night, and Denver is a better airport in which to spend a night (we’re cheap and don’t buy hotels for five hours). The next thing we know, we are en route to the beautiful state of California— I had never been, neither had my mother.

The mistake: I didn’t check us in right away when we got to SAN. I assumed, since we were on the standby list, that the gate agent would transfer us on automatically. He didn’t. Therefore, only my mom made it to Denver that night. Auntie and I slept in the San Diego International Airport. We found comfortable chairs and moved them into a corner by outlets— free wifi and within 20 feet of a coffee stand, and I was in heaven. We were to catch the 0630 flight to Denver and take the 9:30 p.m. flight into Spokane. That’s one long day in Denver!

These clouds weren’t so nice.

We arrive in Denver, no hassle. My mom arrived in Spokane, no hassle; she picked up the rental car and waited to hear from us. A crazy notion struck us— a flight to Bozeman, Montana was scheduled to depart Denver and arrive at 1:30 in the afternoon.  My mom would drive to BZN, a six hour drive, and pick us up. This became the plan. We approach the gate agent, request to change our destination, and we boarded the plane to Bozeman. As another change of plans, my grandpa picked us up instead; he wouldn’t let my mom drive all the way across the state to pick us up after minimal sleep and maximum travel.

Bottom line: we ended up in Missoula about 24 hours late.

The return flights home looked menacing with no seats available. By the Grace of Gaga, we made both flights.

Smooth sailing on the way home.

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