Due to our horrible experience traveling to Beijing from the US, United Airlines awarded us $200 per ticket in vouchers. I had to use them by a certain date, and at that time, and as I checked flight prices, it became apparent that it was going to be more and more expensive the closer we got to the summer and tourist season. So the kids and I flew out June 29th, the last day of decent priced tickets. B had to stay until July 8, the end of the semester. But his ticket would be reimbursed by the school, so it wasn’t a big deal to get the cheaper tickets earlier.
We weren’t sure how to arrange travel from our apartment to the airport. Coming, B’s school had picked us up. I didn’t think this would be the case, so I arranged a ride with the company who picked us up from the airport when we flew home from Thailand in December 2014. She assured me that they had a van that could fit 6 passengers (B rode with us and then took the airport express home) and all our luggage. When the van showed up that morning, just as people were starting to show up for school, I was skeptical and started panicking. Luckily, everything fit!! We said goodbye to our apartment and set off for the airport!
At the airport, there was a long line at the ticket counter. When we finally arrived at the front, they wanted to charge me for each of our second bags. I wouldn’t have it. We got there with two free bags per person on United, we were getting home the same way. Plus, I’m pretty sure ALL international flights allow for two free checked bags. Argh. Anyway, it was frustrating but they made it work. Compared to flying to China, flying back to the US was a breeze. Since there were five of us, when I picked our seats, I picked a row of three seats with a row of just two seats behind it. Buddy and I sat together most of the time with PS, Little Guy and Squidgems in front of us. I read a book on my phone (which I downloaded at the last minute as we were riding to the airport) while Squidgems played my Kindle. We were flying to San Francisco and then on to LAX.
I knew we had to go through customs in San Francisco, what I wasn’t expecting was that we’d have to retrieve all of our luggage, ten suitcases, two rolling carry-on suitcases and a stroller from the weird sized luggage carousel. Such a pain! And we only had about a 2 – 2 1/2 hour layover. Customs was so crowded. After using the computer kiosks to scan our passports and get little print outs, we had to wait for all of our bags, then go find the stroller, then load them all onto luggage carts. Luckily PS and Buddy are big kids that could help. We got in line but got separated by a group of foreigners in wheelchairs with airport staff pushing them around. Then the customs guy was mad that we weren’t all together. Then we had to re-check all our bags… simple enough, but there were so many of them. Then another security check. Meanwhile, I’m panicking about making our flight! And stressed that I couldn’t connect my phone or Kindle to airport WiFi to get in contact with B. Luckily we made it, with plenty of time, and we were on the last leg, a short leg, of our trip home. My parents and my niece A were meeting us at LAX with two cards (ours and my parents’).