My heart did a little jump for joy when the scale said 50 lbs for each. One of them was even 51.5, and the airline personnel said it was fine. This was going to smooth. This was going to be easy. Until she looked over at our carry on baggage, and just started shaking her head. No, she said, those are too big! The carry on baggage was only allowed to be 26 lbs total, combined for carry and on personal item. And no, the kids can't each have a backpack full, but only a small pack that will fit in the little "sizer" box that practically fits my purse only. I aired my frustration with the fact that this information was not posted on their website, but she had no sympathy whatsoever. She courteously asked us to please move over to another scale, as our repacking would take quite a bit of time, and she needed to help the next people in line.
As obedient fliers we moved out of the way, and started shuffling our stuff. Apparently the checked bags were allowed to be 53 lbs, so we got some extra space there. Some clean cursing and reshuffling later, we came up with a new game plan. The suitcases were all 53 lbs, so that was allowed. The carry ons were 26 lbs, which was also allowed. But we had to find a way to smuggle the overstuffed backpacks into the plane. First item: select a different airline agent. That first lady was a nazi. Who asks to weight carry on luggage anyways? We instructed the kids to wear their backpacks, and pretend they were not heavy at all. They also were to stand behind the counter where their humongous backpacks wouldn't be an obvious violation of their lame 26 lbs combined maximum. To save even more on weight I also wore Joe's leather coat over top of my wool coat, Joe wore a sportscoat and his motorcycle jacket, and Winter even carried her scriptures in her hands. The only thing missing was the motorcycle helmets :)
Fortunately the next lady didn't even glance at our carry on bags, or "personal items" and let us straight through (even after the first lady warned her to check out bags). I'd like to think that Joe's Spanish skills once again saved us (he was charming lady #2 by chatting to her in Spanish) The next hurdle: security. It felt great to take off all the sweaters and jackets, but as anyone with kids can attest to, it's a stressful scenario. Someone needs to stay at the front of the 20 foot line of bins, while the other takes up the back. The kids float around in the middle, and attempts are made to keep them in line and behaving like perfect little soldiers.
After security we realized why they tell you to be at the airport 3 hours in advance! We had monkeyed around with our luggage for 1.5 hours, and the plane was already boarding (for international flight they board 1 hour before departure). So we had to skip lunch and the promised ice cream at McDonals for good behavior, and went straight to the gate. The same #1 lady was there! Again the kids were threatened with their lives if they didn't have the happiest faces carrying 30 lb backpacks. I think she might have given us a funny look, but at least she didn't stop us from getting on.
The last time we visited Holland, we had a direct flight with KLM. That experience has turned me into a flight snob. I will no longer fy with a layover if at all possible. It's worth that extra $50 per ticket, just to save a major hassle and possible delays. The thought of getting all of our carry on back out of this plane and to the help of my family is scary enough, without throwing in a layover as well. So here I sit in a darkened cabin, with only a few hours left on this flight. I've only had enough time to watch 1 movie, eat dinner, play a few games, and type this post. Before we know it, it will be time for breakfast, and I'll have to find some time to make up for a lost night's sleep.
current Greenland time Midnight.
Time at destination: 4am.
Remaining Flight time: 3.5 hours