It’s never easy trying to run a family business with small children at your heels, as we’ve begun to really understand this last year. It is especially difficult when school is on Spring break, there is an unexpected loss in the family, and you’re already not sure what you’re going to do with the family to make this “vacation week” a little more fun. Such is the case for us right now.
We were saddened to learn of the passing of Melissa’s paternal Grandmother, or “Nonnie” as her Great-Grandchildren call her. At over 91 years of age, she was an inspiration to all of us with her strength and stature–larger than life and tougher than nails. Even her Preacher recently remarked at how she was “stronger than a horse!” Grandmother leaves behind a tremendous (I mean HUGE) family spread as far as Kuala Lumpur to the West and Chicago to the East. And while unfortunately it was absolutely impossible for her one daughter (the aforementioned family currently living in Malaysia) to make it home for her services, it was absolutely necessary to find a way to at least get Melissa back to her family in New Mexico.
A round trip ticket from Malaysia to Lubbock, Texas on two days notice is somewhere around $3500. A round trip ticket on two days notice from Chicago to Lubbock (or even Amarillo, really…but we’d prefer Lubbock) isn’t much better. We found out many things about the way airlines work this past weekend, but none of it was very reassuring. And while we weren’t planning on doing much over Spring break, anyway, this certainly wasn’t making things easier on us. We even thought about moving up later-in-the-year-semi-planned-trip to New Mexico just to make it less burdensome in terms of cost and timing, but we just don’t believe that our children need to be around funerals for a little while longer–there’s plenty of time for that when they’re older–and we want their Grandparents to be able to truly enjoy that time with them, not to be in the midst of grieving.
Friday evening amounted to 7 (yes, seven!) hours of internet searches and phone conversations, mainly on hold, trying to secure a fare for less than $1000. We (and by we I mean Melissa) encountered everything from the positively frustrating to the surprisingly helpful in terms of customer service that evening, but ultimately we went to bed without a ticket. The best that we had found that night was something in the neighborhood of $580, and that was from the only airline that we could find that offered any type of significant fare for bereavement travel. Most offer very little (maybe 10%) and all discount carriers offer no discount at all. When we finally were able to get the facts straight about which days the services were being held, only an hour and a half later, the bereavement fare was gone. Evidently there are only a specific number of bereavement seats on each flight, and they booked the last one in that small time frame. On a last ditch effort, we had heard about that website that lets you name your own price, and what started at $350 quickly rose to almost $700 with no success again. It was time for bed.
Saturday morning what we thought would quickly turn into another seven hour booking marathon was quickly resolved, again on the same “name your price” website from the previous evening, within a remarkable half hour! This time we decided to be generous and start the bidding at $500. I mean, hey, who are we kidding, right?! lmmediately the counter offer came back and with taxes and everything, we were at $537 booked with one click…and not booked on the red-eye or black-eye (or whatever they call the midnight flights, anyway) either…we’re talking prime travel times: Mid-morning flight out, evening flight back in, home for a late supper and bedtime with the boys. Perfect!
Well, except for the fact that we’ll be without Mommy until Wednesday, and the obvious sadness for the loss of Grandmother.