We’re home. We actually got home Saturday evening, but I don’t think we’re fully caught up from jet lag. All of us are feeling a bit sick, and Douglas’s sleep schedule is completely messed up. Overall, we recovered from the long travel much better at the beginning of the trip than at the end. Douglas was more cranky on the three flights back from Singapore than he was on the way to Singapore, but that might have just been exhaustion from two weeks of travel.
Getting home entailed a few flying fiascos, though.
First was on the Singapore Airlines flight from Penang to Singapore. We installed Douglas’s car seat, just as we had for the Northwest flights, but they weren’t happy with it. Apparently, the Singapore Airlines rule book requires that all car seats be installed in the forward-facing position. This was a real problem, because we were using Douglas’s initial infant car seat, and it can’t be installed in the forward-facing position. They also said that the seat wasn’t acceptable because it wasn’t approved by the British air safety organization, but we eventually showed that it was approved by the FAA, and they accepted that. That still left the issue of forward vs. rear facing, and they eventually let us use the seat, saying that perhaps there was an update to the regulations they’d need to check on later. That made the flight much easier for us, but it would have been interesting to see if we could have gotten a refund for the price of his seat if they weren’t going to let us use it.
The next problem came as we were leaving Singapore, thanks to America’s onerous rules about liquids onboard. Not being able to bring our own water on board is a big hassle for us; Jenny typically needs a lot of water anyway, but as a breastfeeding mother, she needs even more. Add onto that the start of her cold, and she really needed water. Before we went through Singpore’s exit passport check, we dumped out all of our water, thinking that we’d be able to refill our water bottles on the other side of security (we typically do this at other airports). Unfortunately, though, the Singapore airport is set up so that the full security check happens at each individual gate, and there are no water fountains or bathrooms at the gate! In fact, there was a drinking fountain in the middle of the area roped-off for security, but they would have made us dump the water two feet later. We asked if there were any way to get water in the gate area, and they said there wasn’t, and they said there would be beverage service onboard. So, I asked if there was a comment form I could submit to the airport requesting water in the gates. I never got the form, but one of the gate agents went onboard to tell the flight attendants about Jenny’s atypical (but reasonable) need for water. So, fortunately, Jenny got a liter bottle of water when we boarded from a nice flight attendant who told us that they really shouldn’t do that. However, the extra water was crucial; it was over 90 minutes into the flight before the first beverage service occured. I suppose there really is some sort of security need for these regulations, but we wonder how other people get by in the dry airplane air for hours without water.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only problem we had at the Singapore airport, but the other problem was really our fault. We had purchased a little Indian shield and swords thing as a souvenier for my brother-in-law. We made the basic mistake of putting it in a carry-on bag, and they caught it at security. The 5″-long, 1/4″-wide completely harmless “swords” were determined to be too much like knives, so they were contraband. And since the security was at the gate, it was impossible to check them at this point. They were confiscated. Sorry, Dave. At least we still have the little shield.
The next problem happened at the Minneapolis airport. After passing through immigration and rechecking our checked bags, we had to go through security again (our third time, including a check in Tokyo). At that security checkpoint, they discovered that we had left a tube of sunscreen and a bottle of bug spray in a carry-on bag. In fact, it was the same bag that had had the little swords. So, the third checkpoint of the day using all the same rules finally found our accidental contraband liquids – that they passed through twice undetected doesn’t fill me with much confidence. This time, though, we didn’t lose the contraband, because we were able to check that bag in.
Finally, we almost got to spend a night in Minnesota with my family and get a free trip to Montana, but it barely didn’t work out.
Our final flight, from Minneapolis to St. Louis, was delayed. Since the flight was delayed, we decided to ask if they needed volunteers to be bumped. The flight was oversold, and they thought they needed our seats, so we made our plans to fly out the next morning, spending the night with my parents. Additionally, we would get vouchers for later travel, which we were going to use for expensive tickets to a family event in Montana in May. It was going to happen – they even pulled our luggage off the plane. However, it ended up that there were only two people on standby trying to get our seats, and they wouldn’t bump 3 to board 2. So, at the last minute, they told us to get onboard.
While it was nice to get home on the expected day, it would have been a lot of fun to see my family, to hand out souveniers, and to save over $1000 on airfare in May. Oh well.
So, we made some packing mistakes that bit us, and we barely missed a chance to be bumped, but we got home. I still don’t know how the Singapore airport expects hundreds of people to get by for a couple hours without water in the dry airplane air.