Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Day 1: Don't Kick the Air Marshal

Since we couldn't print out our boarding passes the night before, I figured my no-fly problem may be cropping up again. Our flight was at 8:30 a.m., but we left the house around 5:00 a.m. We unloaded the T.R.U.C.K. curbside at National Airport, and Evelin and the girls waited in the terminal while I went off to the satellite parking lot. We (correctly) figured that would be easier than schlepping all the luggage and both carseats on the bus back to the terminal.

We got in line at the ticket counter and when an agent walked past, I told her that I have occasionally had no-fly problems. So, she shifted us to another line and we made it up to an agent at about the same time as if we'd stayed in the queue. Since we thought there might be a problem, Evelin and I decided to bring our passports as our IDs. I don't know if that helped or not, but we did have to wait a while while she kept typing different things and made a phone call. Despite all that, we were though security and at our gate with more than 90 minutes to spare.

For the flight, we'd picked up a Stick and Rudder activity book to help keep Celeste occupied, but she found something more interesting — kicking the seatback ahead of her. Since Quinn was flying as a lap child and we only had one carseat bag, we had Celeste in her gogo Kidz-equipped carseat. That placed her at the perfect level for kicking.

The chap in the seat ahead of Celeste was one of two guys who was let on to the plane before the flightcrew. We were sitting near the gate, so we saw the pair approach the gate agent, exchange words, and then be led on to the plane a good 15 or 20 minutes before anyone else. Both guys looked like ex-military linebackers. After everyone was seated, the guy in front of us called over a flight attendant to have her take his ticket; it hadn't been collected at the gate. Add that to the fact that every flight to/from DCA supposedly has at least one air marshal on it and I'm pretty sure this guy was one ... and the other guy ... and the guy Evelin saw walk down the aisle, point at the other guy, and say to the guy in front of Celeste: "Is that your partner?"

I worked hard to keep an arm over her legs, but Celeste did get off a few good blows before we left the ground. The air marshal never drew a weapon or identified himself or anything, but we did hear him mutter something to the effect of "I don't know if I can make this flight ..." Fortunately, once we were off the ground, Celeste was mostly done with trying to kick. She had more fun looking out the window and reading her books or the Sky Mall catalogue. She did get in one last kick after we landed, however. I tried to catch the guy's eye to apologize while we were deplaning, but he was either closely watching a potential terrorist or studiously avoiding any backwards glances at our row.

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