The ground is level at the foot of the cross....recovering addict rescued by the saving grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Flight to Korea

Last week we left the US for Korea. It was quite an adventure and there were a lot of unforeseen bumps in the road. First, we had to reschedule the flight because United Airlines told us the Tokyo-Narita airport didn’t allow pets through it. This surprised Fort Leavenworth, but they found us a flight for the next day that went from San Francisco to Seoul. We called at least 3 times to confirm our new reservation and make sure that we had everything ready so we could bring our dog Zoey. The army wouldn’t pay for our flight from Minnesota, where we were on leave, so we had to rent two vehicles and drive back down to Kansas to fly out. We arrived a day early and checked in at the United desk to make sure that we bought the right type of kennel to fly with. They told us that since Zoey was flying in the cabin, any type of kennel would do, so we bought a soft kennel at Wal-Mart and thought we were ready for the flight.

The next day we woke up at 2 AM, turned in our rental vehicles at the airport, and were at the ticketing desk at 4 AM, just like the reservations people told us. United didn’t open the desk until 5 AM, only one hour before we flew out. We went up to the counter and the agent told us that Fort Leavenworth failed to pay for the tickets, even though the seats were reserved (that would have been good info to know the other three times we called!). I called Fort Leavenworth, but nobody was at work, so I called the travel emergency number in Texas, where they told me that in order for them to help me, I needed to FAX a copy of my orders. Have you ever tried to find a FAX machine at a small airport 45 minutes before you depart for an international flight? Needless to say it took me awhile, but after 20 minutes of a panic run up and down the terminal I found a woman who was kind enough to help me. With 25 minutes left, the emergency travel line told me that they needed to now call their bosses at home so they could approve my ticket. Apparently they couldn’t do this during the 20 minutes that I was running around looking for a FAX machine! Needless to say, I missed my flight, but the emergency travel people reserved me the next flight, which would take us through the dreaded Tokyo-Narita airport. We checked with three different United agents and all of them said that they never heard of Tokyo not allowing pets, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. At 7:30AM the people at Fort Leavenworth came into the office. I called them at 7:31 AM and after 20 more minutes they agreed to pay for my new ticket. We immediately went to the ticketing counter (we had been sitting in front of it for almost 4 hours already) and got our boarding passes and headed through the security checkpoint and to the gate. We were on our way!

At 10 AM United announced that our flight was delayed for 45 minutes and there was no way we would be able to make our connection in Chicago. Also, that flight was the only flight for the day, so we needed to go back to ticketing to find a new flight. So we picked up our bags and our dog and went back to the counter. Our United agent’s name was Phil and he couldn’t find us room on any flight for the next several days because all the flights were full for pets. He worked for an hour straight with us even though there was a long line of less-than-patient customers behind us. He tried everything in the book, even trying to get us into business class in the hopes that it would count as a different cabin and have room for pets. It didn’t. While waiting I said a prayer and asked God for someone to cancel their reservation, but then I took it back because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to someone. About five minutes later, Phil looked at his monitor in shock and said that someone just cancelled and we would be able to make the next day’s flight! What an incredible God moment. This still stuns me and just puts me in total awe that God would take the time to work in our lives.

So we went back to the hotel, after we got all of our bags back off of the plane. In the confusion I loaded all our bags into the wrong shuttle van and then had to unload them. I grumbled about how unfriendly Indian people were, only to have the next shuttle van driver, who was from India, be incredibly friendly and helpful to us. Yet another humbling moment for the day.

The next day we got up and made our flight. There were no problems with our flight through Tokyo and the whole family, including Zoey, where absolutely spectacular. We arrived in Seoul and after about an hour of going through immigration/customs and the Army in-processing checkpoint we linked up with my sponsor. We load all of our stuff in the Bongo truck and then piled into the mini-van. We were on our way!

The van wouldn’t start.

20 minutes later, the flood van engine started and we were on our way!

We got lost in Seoul and spent 30 minutes driving in a circle. Mary received her introduction to Korean driving and she loved it. At one stop there was a motorcycle with a husband, wife, and an infant in the mom’s arms. My thought was, “I wonder why the infant’s not wearing a helmet?”

So after all of that, we made it here safely and gratefully. God provided us with a beautiful home on post after only a week and we have Zoey back with us (she had to stay in a kennel while we were in the hotel). I started my new job on Friday and am very excited about the future.