A honeymoon kicks off an amazing life together as man and wife. It should be a time for just the two of you, to let being MARRIED sink in. It’s meant to be the trip of a lifetime, an unforgettable experience.
People have different ideas of what a honeymoon should be, but I’m not sure I could imagine a more idyllic vacation than the one we enjoyed in French Polynesia. The accommodations, the service, the colors, the flowers…swoon. I wrote all about the incredible food already. And then, the sunsets. Oh, the spectacular, vibrant sunsets!
I know I use the word PERFECTION often, but this time, it fits.
But it didn’t start out that way.
In fact, the beginning kind of stunk.
Considering we had 16 days away from home to pack for, we should have started earlier than the night before our trip. But Hurricane Sandy left a decent chunk of John’s family and some friends stuck in Utah, their flights back East canceled. This is not the part that stunk, by the way. We were secretly happy that we had extra time with The Fam (all was ok for them back home)! We love having friends and family help fill up this big house of ours. But we didn’t really get any downtime to process recent LIFE-CHANGING events. Instead of catching our breath, the festivities just continued! It was really fun. We hosted the whole gang a few times and even had some time for Wok Shots.
By the time we waved goodbye, we hadn’t even unpacked from the wedding- let alone gathered anything to take on the honeymoon. After months of GO-GO-GO non-stop, two weeks of nothing sounded pretty incredible!
The dog-sitter came by a few minutes before we were supposed to head down the canyon toward the airport. A 2-hour flight to LA would land us on an 8-hour, overnight flight to Tahiti- a honeymoon splurge on first class! Before we left the house, John received a notification from Delta that our flight was delayed by over a half-hour. Luckily, we’d still have plenty of time to catch the flight out of LA. We lingered with Cholula longer, going over last-minute details with the sitter, and double-checked our bags before heading out.
Just before we pulled into the airport, John received another notification that our flight was BACK ON TIME. Here’s where it gets sticky. We were now LATE. Like, miss our flight late. John tore around the economy lot, desperately looking for a parking spot while I kept watch for the shuttle. I shouted, “There it is! It’s coming!” just as he spied a spot. We sprinted to the bus, praying we grabbed all of our baggage from the car. These were precious minutes! But my throat was already starting to tighten: our honeymoon was beginning with a big ball of STRESS.
The Delta check-in counter was a graveyard- empty of customers. There was one woman behind her computer. She hardly glanced up, but it was clear that she NOT excited to see us. John was already angry about Delta’s conflicting information notifications, but we still had 35-40 minutes until take-off time. They’d just be starting to board now. We’d have to rush, but we’d be fine. Or so we thought.
Little Miss Scowl behind the counter was not interested in hearing about our plight. She was not swayed by John’s explanation of what had happened so far this evening or Delta’s part in it. She didn’t care that it was our honeymoon, that John is a Platinum Skymiles member, that we had paid full price for first class seats on an international flight, or that my eyes were now brimming with tears. She made a reluctant call to the gate, her tone curt and obligated. We were informed that we could make our flight- but they had given away our first class seats.
I thought John’s head might explode right through his extra-wide eyes.
He knows the upgrade drill. The norm is for those seats to be released 15 minutes prior- not 40. The woman had no explanation and placed the blame for our little ordeal squarely upon us. There was no time to argue with her, no time to plead. We rushed through security and ran to the gate in a full sprint. In my head, I was rationalizing that this was the shorter flight of the two. We’d still have the fancy seats on the long flight, the important one. I left John behind and boarded the plane, listening to other misinformed passengers behind me, wondering why the delayed flight was already boarded. We weren’t the only ones who’d almost missed it.
Once on the plane, the stewardess took one look at my carry-on bag and shook her head. There was very little room for any luggage left on the plane- it may need to be checked. I glanced around for John, knowing that if they tried to check his bags, he might go postal. The stewardess saw something in my eyes- probably the load of tears ready to spill onto my cheeks- and her face softened. She took my bag and found a place for it. She showed me where our seats were, leading me through a not-full first class section on the way. As I sat down, relieved to be on the plane, I searched for John. I told the stewardess that he’d be right behind me and he would also have a bag. Thankfully, she found space for it and nudged it away overhead. We had made it.
But in the 12 years we’ve known each other, I’d never seen John so angry.
He relayed to me that he had tried to talk to the agent at the gate, presumably the one Little Miss Scowl had called. He asked why our seats had been released so early, if there were other seats in first class that were still open. Maybe the two agents were related- because it sounded like he was just as mean as the first woman we dealt with. It was shocking that people in their position wouldn’t at least fake some compassion to two newlyweds in a bit of a pickle, trying to start their honeymoon on the right foot. I let John vent for awhile, and then tried to steer his thoughts more toward, “At least we made the flight.” A couple of people who had worked too many hours weren’t going to ruin MY fun time!
People were still boarding, looking bewildered about why they, too, were now rushed and miss-the-plane late. The kind stewardess overheard a smidge of our discussion and came to chat with us. Just showing interest in us made such a big difference. As she learned how we’d been treated, she asked, “What’s your drink?” John told her, and she whisked away, returning with a couple of extra-strong screwdrivers. “I’ll take care of you. Congratulations on your wedding!”
Our jaws dropped in unison.
After take-off, our Delta Angel brought a huge bag of first class snacks and treats for us to stash. We had plenty of room, a free cocktail in hand, and some goodies. We may as well be in first class, right? I could see John’s face relaxing a bit. Then, he reached down for a magazine… and promptly spilled a full cocktail into my lap. My jeans- the only pair of pants I’d packed, the ones I had to wear for the next 10 hours– soaked in the booze like a sponge. Once again, my mouth was wide open. John looked like a beaten dog- the poor guy just couldn’t catch a break that night.
The good news is it only went up from there. I sat on a stack of paper towels for the next two hours, drinking the cocktails that kept being refreshed and thinking forward to the next decadent flight- and the two weeks ahead. The Delta Angel brought us a handwritten card of congrats signed by all of her co-workers. She also granted us 2,500 Skymiles each and went out of her way to not only make the first leg of our honeymoon feel special, but to make up for the rough start. It wasn’t about status with an airline or spending money on expensive tickets, though that was kind of major. It was about the chance to help two people having a rough time feel better after someone else had made it worse. Our Delta Angel turned that around and we were on our way to fantastic honeymoon- and we had a pretty good story, to boot!
I changed into something dry at LAX and before I knew it, I was here.
And thus began 8 hours of true travel bliss. Take a gander at the beginning of this post where I talk about the food and drink on our deluxe flight to Tahiti!
Next up: The first luxurious week of paradise!