Thursday, December 17, 2009

And we're back

After a very long trip to Canada, Grace and I are back in Korea. It was quite a trip, just the two of us. In short, it sucked -- but we got through it. We got up at 3:00 a.m. to leave for the airport at 4 a.m. -- that part really sucked. Grace puked all over herself in the car on the way to the airport (combo tired/car sickness?), so I had to change her clothes and wipe down her snowsuit as best I could.

The first 5 hour flight from Toronto to Vancouver was OK, but our seats were bad. We were seated near the back of the plane. I asked at check-in if I could have a bulkhead seat, but was denied, for what reason I have no idea. I asked the friendly Air Canada employee (note the sarcasm!) how priority for the bulkhead seats worked and expressed my deep desire for one, but she said should could not do anything -- yeah right. So I endured.

After that flight, we had one hour to get off the plane in Vancouver. I decided that this was ridiculous -- just who gets these bulkhead seats? So I talked to the agent at the gate. I just told her straight up that I needed a bulkhead seat as my daughter was going to be restless on the next 10 hour flight and I would need room to get up frequently, have access to carry-ons, etc. Well -- you'd think I had asked her for the moon. After some typing with intermittent huffing, she finally said I had been granted a bulkhead seat.

Now, I thought I had read somewhere on Air Canada's site that bulkhead seats were given to whoever needs them most, usually to handicapped people, people traveling with infants, or unusually tall people. As I boarded the plane for Seoul, I was interested to see why it was so hard for me to get a bulkhead seat -- perhaps there was a group of 6 handicapped people flying that day? No, there was not. Besides me and Grace, there were five young men seated in the special row. Anyway, this issue really bothers me, and I intend to contact Air Canada to see what exactly their policy is.

Ten hours went by slowly, as it always does. One of the worst parts was when I thought to myself, "Wow, we've been in the air for a while now -- time is flying"...then I saw that we still had seven hours left. Grace was good for the most part. She did not sleep very well, as I had expected. She has trouble relaxing enough to settle into sleep. I am not much different. I don't think I've ever slept on a plane. But we got through with lots of snacks, pacing, and a surprise new toy I had packed in my bag. The plane touching down was the best feeling in the world.
On the airplane....many hours more to go:
My friend L met me at the airport, and boy was it good to see a familiar face. The airport van guy was there waiting, too. It felt weird to be on the road with Grace on my lap rather than in a car seat. We finally got to my apartment and L helped me quickly lower the crib mattress and hang Grace's curtains. She ordered some chicken, although I was too tired to eat much. Grace had a few french fries and went to sleep. And that was the trip.

Since then, Grace has been pretty jetlagged, naturally. She's been up in the night a lot. But tonight she went down at around 7:00, which is great, so I'll get her up at 7 tomorrow and hopefully we'll be on our way back to a normal sleep schedule. She's adjusting to the new apartment well. I've just been spending lots of time with her. I brought back as many of her toys as I could fit, for familiarity's sake. She is settling in well, although she must be wondering where grandma and grandpa are.
The day after our arrival:
On Monday we made the trip into Seoul to see Sejin. He missed us a lot. I missed him too, of course, but I've been pretty busy writing books, caring for Grace, traveling, unpacking, dealing with jetlag. But he's just been sitting in a hospital bed for 3 weeks, so it must have been worse for him. He was pretty happy to see us. We didn't stay for long since Grace was so tired, but it was a nice visit. He says his foot is getting better, but he still has a lot of recovery left ahead of him. He showed me both of his legs side-by-side, and his injured leg is a lot smaller than the other. It's like the muscle has wasted way from not being used. He cannot move his toes yet. His doctor is now encouraging him to walk around on crutches, but he says it hurts a lot.
Anyway, that's a long update, but a lot has happened! I'm really looking forward to Sejin's return home. I hope he can be here for Christmas...


Anonymous said...

Your disappointment at not securing your preferred seats is understandable, but wht blame the airline? Everyone wants those seats, and waiting til you arrive at the airport is the surest way to not get them. Preferred seats are offered in advance to the most frequent flyers who are (in Air Canada's case, Super Elite, Elite...)members of Aeroplan; higher economy fare-paying customers who get free seat selection at time of booking; those at lower fares who pay a fee in advance; and finally, those who snag remaining seats by checking in on the web starting up to 24hrs prior to the departure. So, you cannot blame the airline for not having the exact seat you want when there are other people on the flight, many of whom also have a deep desire for those seats too. I'm not sure what having a curtain in front of your face (bulkhead) would do for your restless daughter and I tell you this not to blame, but to explain, so that next time you, too, can choose the option most available to you from the list above.

Becky said...

Sarah, glad you and Grace are back. I always wondered about exit row too, hubby is 6'5" and travels a lot to Asia. He's lucky if he gets an exit row but it's not always. I love the picture of SeJin and Grace. Hope he is healing.

Sarah said...


Two months before I flew, I upgraded my fare (I don't know what it was called) by paying $250. I also did web check-in before arriving at the airport. I was also traveling with an 11 month old infant. It was not a curtain in front of me -- it's a BULKHEAD -- there is a lot more room so that I can stand up with baby when needed, as well as have my carry-ons on the floor in front of me for easy access. I was traveling ALONE for god's sakes.

So yes, I do blame the airline, because I did all the things you named: I am an Aeroplan member, I had a higher fare type, and I checked in in advance.

Before I had a baby, of course I would have liked a bulkhead seat, but I was totally understanding about who those seats were given to, esp those with babies or disabilities. I don't think I am special and therefore deserve that seat, as you implied. FOOL!

Furthermore, this is not the first negative experience I've had with Air Canada. I will not be flying with them again, that's for sure.

Anyway, FOOL, thanks for your comment.

Sarah said...

Becky: I think those seats should be put aside for people with babies, really tall people like your husband, or people with disabilities. Just makes sense to me. The people sitting up there with me were just young men who slept most the way and wouldn't have been less comfortable had they been back a few rows. Just my opinion.

Yes, Sejin is healing well. He's starting to walk around on crutches now!

Alissa said...

Every airline I have ever flown on with an infant has automatically assigned me the bulkhead seats (except United which is by far the worst airline I've EVER flown with), Sarah, so you are well within your rights to be pissed at the airline.

I've always found travelling with a mobile infant to be something that must be endured rather than enjoyed, so well done to you for surviving. :-D

Alfee said...

When flying I make Kevin request those seats for me. I get him to call and check a few days before the flight to make sure I was assigned one, if I wasnt, I make them give me one, or change my flight for free to another day so that I can have one. I could usually get a bassinet with those seats, and put Ethan down for a little bit. Now he's getting too big, but for all the stuff im carrying, and travelling alone, you'd think everyone else would see the sense in it too. I've had normal people sit next to me and refuse to move for a lady with a baby who could use a bassinet. I made sure I let Ethan do whatever he wanted over that way! I definately I agree there should be a priority like you said, and they should automatically allocate them, or keep them empty until the last.

On a better note, I was reading your blog, and Ethan climbed all over me to see the computer. He pointed at Grace and said 'baby'. I said 'Thats baby Grace' and he said... 'Grace'! Least he knows his girl's name!

Becky said...

Sarah: Hubby has flown over 2million miles with NWA alone and is sometimes granted upgrades but the Asian flights are rare. I LOVED Korean Airlines, their seating is much roomier in coach. Anonymous doesn't have a clue. We always have to fight through the ajumas at the gate to preboard. They never want to let us through. Hubby is platinum and flies pretty much every month to Asia. He can't even imagine doing it with an infant. You are one special mama!

Mama Seoul said...

What I don't understand is that when you ask the airline (whether by phone in advance or at the airport) to do something there is often a ridiculous amount of typing and then they finally do it after you hassle them enough or you have to hang up and try another agent and they get it done in 3 seconds. It just doesn't seem that the rules are clear cut enough. I almost never get the bulkhead, but Curt doesn't like the bulk head anyway and my babies sleep better in my arms than in the bassinet.

We did get upgraded to business class for our outgoing flight to the US next week so I am happy about that. It will be hard to come back in economy.

Glad you are back and Sejin is getting better!

Sarah said...

Alfee: Yeah, I tried requesting that seat over the phone but they said I couldn't book seats sooner than 24 hours in advance. Must be an Air Canada thing.

Karen: I know! Type type type....done. On the way to Canada, the agent at check in did it no problem. One the way here, it was a big freaking deal. Depends who you get I guess! I was happy to get the bulkhead seat in the end, but was disappointed in how much effort it took...

MommyCha said...

I just wanted to say wow, Anonymous is an A$$hole!
I also want to say Air Canada is awful and I never fly them, even though they sometimes have the lowest airfares to Canada. >.<
Flying with Singapore Air I have always been given bulkhead when booking with an infant. It was automatic and they always had enough bassinets to go around. Flying to Texas Thomas was so awful that they were kind enough to move me to a set of 2 seats at the back. This way he had his own seat and I was able to set him down during turbulence.
I'm glad you made it back and safe and sound. I'm sure Sejin is thrilled to have his family back with him. I know it will help his spirit immensely to have you both near!
Hopefully we will get a chance to see you soon!

Cathy said...

Anonymous sounds like they're affiliated with AC...perhaps actually the women at check-in...customer service skills were non-existent. I will never fly Air Canada...everyone I have ever talked with have had a bad experience with Air Canada. The insensitivity to a young women with an 11 month old travelling on such a long flight speaks volumes. Oh yeah, Anonymous for the record...she didn't wait until she got to the airport to try and secure a seat...she did do web check-in! You sound like an idiot!!!!
Sarah's Mom

Sarah said...

Whoa, Cathy lays a smackdown in her first comment on my blog. Hi, mom! Haha.

It's true, nearly everyone you talk to has had a bad experience with AC. That's saying something.

Lolimahro said...


Welcome back! I'm sorry to hear about your airline experience. I have never found an airline in the U.S. that has ever worked for me. One time I got stranded overnight in Denver with United after they refused to cancel a flight until all the other flights out of the airport had left.

When I flew to Korea on American (well, MSP to Chicago, before transferring to Korean Air), a flight attendant yelled at my husband after we had already left the plane about having so many carry on bags - we had bought a separate seat for Dexter, so we got the extra bags, which she didn't happen to understand, no matter how we tried to explain it to her. Some people are just jerks.

Hope you will have plenty of time to relax a little bit now that you are home. Hope Grace catches up on her sleep schedule soon!

Catherine said...

When I flew home in spring with my husband, we flew Air Canada and it was fine, but we were not offered a bassinet or anything. (We also didn't ask.)

When I flew home by myself with the boys on Korean Air, the ticket agent in Seoul ASKED if I would like a bassinet in a bulkhead seat. Maybe it was because I was by myself, but I very much appreciated having those seats.

So basically, I second or third the opinion that Korean Air has better customer service than Air Canada.

BTW, why is it that the people who leave a-hole comments are always Anonymous? Oh, that's right because they don't have the balls to put their name on their a-hole comments.