When collecting an unaccompanied minor from the airport, you’ll need to take along a lot of patience. You would think that having Grand Master D fly home on his own would be less hassle all round and I suppose it probably is, but it was rather a long frustrating process.
I left home before he even boarded the plane to get to the airport in our own city. There’s something fundamentally wrong with that. I check online while arriving at the airport and discover his flight is 40 minutes early, now that is almost unheard of… an airline being so organised they’re early??? Crazy right… So I start the process in a mild panic. He’s already here and I have many hoops to jump through.
There is no special services desk, you have to line up with all the passengers checking in. I did this and spent the next 20 minutes of my life in this line. Finally I get to the desk and the check in personnel has no idea what to do, surely I’m not the first person to ever have an unaccompanied minor to collect. I’m not in the computer as the hand off person and we’re in limbo, don’t panic….breathe…..Luckily there was a supervisor near by to handle the situation so as not to have an Australian woman go psycho in the airport, that would just be awkward…. 10 mins at the desk to get a pass to line up and go through security, easy.
Security was the next fun part of the process. At least the lady let me go to the front of the line rather than to the end. I was whisked through just in time to wait to be x-rayed with my shoes off and all my personal effects through the standard security procedure.
While this was taking place I had a call from an airline rep to say he had my child and how far away was I? I explained my progress and he told me the new gate to collect him from. This gate being the furthest from where I was, of course. By this point he’s been landed for 45 minutes.
Security behind me, I dash to gate #24. Upon arrival I find him just wandering unattended near a cafe. It takes me another 10 minutes to locate someone to sign him off…. I could have just left with him without anyone checking. Not very safe. Unaccompanied indeed!
I wonder exactly what the $100 UM fee is for, not ease of collection or supervision that’s for sure.
Child collected 55 minutes after landing, off to find baggage which is surely missing by now. You know that feeling when you have an instinct but don’t follow it??? Yeah that happened. I saw the first baggage collection point and headed there but asked if this was for terminal 3. My first mistake, somehow I’d come into T3 but collected child in T2. So diligently I headed back to T3 because that’s where the flight was supposed to be landing… It’s a bit of a hike, enough for us to need sustenance at a nearby kiosk. Coke and chocolate in hand we continue our trek.
Baggage claim in T3 is located and knowing the bag will be held in guest services we head there, where we are very politely informed that the flight came in at T2 and we’d have to collect the baggage from there.
The problem with this is we’ve passed the point of no return, you know those airport doors which say exit but no reentry???? Yeah we were beyond those, so our only option was an outside trek back to T2. Walking shoes required. Vague instructions were given and we headed out in search of the other building…….. 45 minutes later we arrived, after several wrong turns and more vague directions, at T2 where we located the baggage claim office. The bag was there and we were good to go.
By this point we felt more refreshments were required as we still had an 1.5 hour airtrain and subway ride.
Now I’ve been on the airtrain many times, I’ve made the mistake before of getting on the terminal loop train rather than the train to the subway… so I was pretty sorted with getting on the right train. What I didn’t know was that there were 2. (Clearly I’ve been lucky until now).One going to my sort after destination and one to a completely different area I’ve never been. Well you know where we ended up don’t you, yep, the wrong one… But no stress, it’s a subway I’m somewhat familiar with (I’ve heard of the letter) and know that it will get us into a place I can navigate home from.
Then the stations don’t line up with the map… oh now what? I’m beyond worrying, we’ll make it. We finally get to a station to change to our home line and we wait and wait and wait….. damn weekend trains!
We elect to take the express to a further stop and transfer one stop back for home, finally arriving back 3.5 hours after the plane landed…. nobody said navigating this city was easy or quick. It was a little trying at times and it could have been much easier but I managed to keep my cool…Today of all days I wasn’t going to be ruffled.
As a perspective, if you were to drive to JFK airport, without traffic problems, it would take approximately 45min-1hr.
Most importantly, my boy’s home and it was still easier that driving down to Washington DC to get him.
Update: Grandmaster D is still passed out in bed at 10am, I believe we got our moneys worth on this trip. He really did have a great time.
I’m a lollypop for a good yarn and I love your story of little boy lost. If the kid’s plane had been on time and the collection and return home had gone off without incident, it would have been a boring and forgettable occasion.