At least as far as Matt & Jodi’s house. Both sets of couples had some very interesting times getting there!! Jodi and Matt headed out early in the morning to catch the fast ferry to St. Thomas; however, the customs computers in St. Thomas were not working, so they had to proceed to St. John. Luckily, they didn’t have to take their bags and baggage off the ferry in St. John; however, they did still have to get to St. Thomas with enough time to check their bags and get on the plane. That was another ordeal in and of itself. Apparently, they had to go through immigration/customs twice! Because they were on the ferry! With the number of lines in their path at the airport, they had a very slim window for getting their bags checked in with the one hour window. Jodi said they got their bags in within a minute (or a few minutes) of meeting the cutoff. That would have given me pause for concern. And I had my own concerns. Their ensuing flights were fairly uneventful, and they wound up arriving a little early to Houston, about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. This was good because there was a 17 minute gap between our two flights arrival times, and our flight out of Puerto Rico routinely arrived at least 20 minutes early, as it did today.
But getting to San Juan was an experience in and of itself! We were in a little Cessna, just as we were over 4 years ago. They weigh all of your baggage, and then ask for your weight so that they can plan placement in the plane. Apparently a few folks underestimated the weight, as the pilot began eyeballing us and putting the “really big guys” up front (bummer, I enjoyed sitting next to the pilot before), and we were in the 3rd row. The pilot gave us the briefing, and we were off. It’s a short flight, and although we didn’t make it out in time, we had a sufficient buffer of about 1 1/2 hours. And we needed just about every minute.
But back to the flight. Early in the flight the pilot made a major sharp turn that had the women on the plane grabbing at seats and husbands. He explained that the tower had issued an immediate turn command because we were in the flight path of another plane, which was about 500 feet (I think) above us. So despite the prediction of no real turbulence, we had a bit. Then, as we were landing in Puerto Rico, the flight traffic controller made the pilot change runways, ordering him back up to 3000 feet to re-approach. That takes a while in a Cessna! So we landed, and had a little less than an hour before our scheduled flight left. Thank goodness for the GOES program, immigration took very little time, and we waited for our bags. Our pilot stuck with us, and then loaded our bags onto the re-check ahead of the others in front. And then it was a dash to TSA. We were waved into the pre-check line, but when we approached the check in point, it was closed off (no reason given, it was done as we were standing there), and we had to go through the regular line, so it was time to take out the baggie with liquids, the computer, and then take off shoes/belts/etc and walk through the scanner.
Wayne’s bag was scanned 3 times, opened, had several items pulled out before the TSA finally realized that they were looking at his empty camera housing. Go figure! And there were more than a few TSA agents just sitting around, to include the management folks. I finally found an airport as bad as BWI.
We touched down about 1/2 hour before Matt & Jodi, and then proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Matt and Jodi had their bags before we did, and Jodi’s mom picked them up. They proceeded to wait in the passenger pick up line, but had to leave and do the loop around the airport.
Still no bags.
Turns out there was a luggage jam in the conveyor shaft leading to the belt, so our bags were not coming out. They announced (after 45 minutes) that this was the problem and that they would be diverting our luggage to the next carousel. But another flight was having its bags off loaded there, so we were to be behind, and there were still bags jammed in our conveyor passageway.
Finally, without warning, our bags started arriving on the original carousel. We got those, went out, let Jodi know we were ready, and we were picked up and on our way to the Zajac home in short order.
We finished up the adventure with margaritas (and a run and coke for Matt), and some interesting hijinks from Sylvester and the newest member of the house, Lola. Snowflake was down for a second, and then dashed off!
All in all, a trip to remember.
Good night all!