Savannah crammed a week's worth of stuff into 48 hours so that she could hurry and catch a flight home from SLC late Saturday afternoon. She packed and cleaned her dorm room, said goodbye to her best friend and roommate, wrote a 6-page American Heritage paper and a14-page Anthropology paper, took three finals, moved all of her stuff into a friend's apartment for a week until she gets back and moves it all into a new dorm room for the spring/summer, and then took a bus to a train to her cousin's car to get to the airport two hours before her flight.
In January, we didn't have an exact date when Savannah's finals would be over for the semester, so we got a stand-by ticket from Craig's brother. Savannah has never flown non-rev before. It's an ordeal for me when I've tried it in the past, and as grateful as we always are to fly for free, I almost never make it through a stand-by day in the airport without shedding a few tears of frustration. It's an adventure to fly without a definite plan, so I tried to prepare Savannah to be flexible, patient, and willing to sleep in an airport.
Savannah had two route options Saturday afternoon. One from SLC to PHX to DAL. One from SLC to DEN to DAL. Both SLC flights left at close to the same time, but there were very few seats available on either flight and lots of wait-listed passengers. Things weren't looking very hopeful. She didn't make the DEN flight, but was able to get on the PHX flight. And fortunately a cute couple from our ward was traveling back home from SLC on that same flight, so we all relaxed a little knowing that she was in good company, and said a quick prayer for tiny tender mercies. While Savannah flew to PHX, Craig scrambled around on the SW website and tried to find another option in case the PHX to DAL flight didn't work out. He found a flight from PHX to AUS that was wide open, but leaving very close to the time her SLC flight would arrive. It would be really close, and Craig would have to drive 3 1/2 hours to AUS to get there in time to meet her flight, but the chances of getting on that one looked so much better than the PHX to DAL flight.
Craig gathered a few necessities and left to drive to AUS while I stayed home and watched the website to track Savannah's PHX flight so that I could call her as soon as she landed and redirect her to the AUS flight. An hour later, her flight landed, Savannah texted, and I gave her the details. I told her to go to the first available and occupied SW counter, and tell the gate attendant what she was trying to do, and have them get her on whichever of the two flights she could make. We stopped texting while she deplaned and I waited to hear from her.
For 15 mintues.
And I watched the website as the PHX to AUS flight went from "ON TIME" to "IN FLIGHT" status. I said another prayer that she had gotten on that flight because the thought of my 18-yr old sleeping in the PHX airport was making me nauseous.
And then a text finally came:
Craig was only about an hour south of Dallas so he turned around and drove straight to the airport, where he waited through a torrential thunder/lightning/hail storm for Savannah's flight to arrive. The rain continued and Savannah's flight (along with all the others that flew into Love Field that night) had to fly around and wait to land until the clouds parted and the rain stopped. Twenty minutes late, but who even cared at that point, her flight landed, people got off, and wet bags came down the carousel. Craig was waiting at Baggage Claim to meet her.
I don't think there's ever been a happier little Mouse or a more relieved Dad that things all worked out better than we hoped. We thanked the cute couple from our ward who happened to be sitting just across the aisle from her on the second flight to DAL. Craig drove straight to In-n-Out for a hamburger for a very hungry little traveler, and then drove home!
Savannah had lots of great stories to tell about people at the desk who were waiting for her flight to land so she could hop on that PHX to DAL flight, and the flight attendant who said, "Oh, you must be Savannah!," and the cute grandpa sitting in the 2nd row of the plane who had been saving the seat next to him for someone wearing a BYU T-shirt, and how they talked the whole way to DAL and he had a carry-on full of PHX oranges that he shared with her. How grateful I am for kind people who are available when I am not. Because lately there are a lot of times when I'm not anymore.
Even writing about this a few days later, the whole experience still feels pretty miraculous. And once again, we are all amazed the charmed life this girl leads. We are so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves all of us, and who pours out blessings in unexpectedly large and small ways. And we're SUPER grateful that Savannah is home for a whole week!