It has been 10 years since I have flown anywhere. We’ve become quite the homebodies in La Yacata. So this trip was a tad stressful.
It started with making sure our papers were in order. My passport is good for another 5 years, but my son’s passport expires in July. I did some research and panicked a bit, but found out that he can travel on his passport up until the expiration date. Mexico does not require 6-month padding like some countries. Besides, he would be returning to Mexico as a Mexican citizen, not a US citizen. It never hurts to be prepared though.
So then onto the airport adventure…
When we entered the building in CDMX, a young lady asked if we wanted to have our bag wrapped and weighed. I did need to know how much it weighed but I wasn’t sure what the wrapping was all about. She said it would be a good option since we had to change planes. As our suitcase wasn’t new, I decided to go ahead with it.
She saran wrapped the heck out of our poor suitcase. The wheels had been damaged on the bus trip from Queretaro, so now the weight was unbalanced and wheeling it around was more difficult. Oh well. We only had to check it in and be done with it.
So we headed to the United check-in area. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do since I didn’t have any actual tickets, just a confirmation number. The young lady at the post asked for my documentation. I had no idea what she meant. She asked again what the airline had given me to enter the country. So I said I was a permanent resident in Mexico and my son was a citizen. She grabbed two forms and handed them to us.
We then proceeded to the machine that looked like an automatic teller. I entered my confirmation number and it printed out my tickets. The guy behind the counter took our bag. Overall, it was a little stressful but not overly so.
We headed to the food court to eat and fill out those forms. I went to Subway and stood in line. While I was waiting, a devout Muslim and his Mexican companion fell into line behind me. The Muslim spoke English which the Mexican companion was translating for the food preparer. He asked that she change her gloves and not cut the bread since the knife could have been used to cut pork. The Mexican didn’t translate that last part so I jumped in and told the sandwich preparer not to cut the bread seconds before it would have happened. Scared the bejeezus out of her, but the tuna on white was not contaminated with pork residue.
After that bit of stress, my son and I filled out those forms while we ate. We weren’t sure where we needed to go next, so we asked the cleaning lady. She wasn’t sure either. We wandered around a bit and saw people going down a long hallway. So that’s where we went.
My son’s bag triggered a search. We had brought Oxy cleaning face pads with us and the searcher had never seen such an item. It was eventually approved and we headed through the duty-free zone. We didn’t need any of that crap, so wound our way to the gates.
We sat and people watched for a while. One passenger, Alejandro, had been paged at least a dozen times. We speculated on that, especially when this wild-haired older man was driven at high speed down the hall in one of those airport dune buggies. We thought perhaps the duty-free alcohol samples had gotten the best of him. Several minutes later, a rather heavy-set man sprinted by. We imagined he was the assistant and didn’t rate the dune buggy ride. We had a good chuckle.
Our gate was changed because of another plane that arrived late, but it was in the same area. The pre-boarding check was called. My son’s paperwork was just dandy, however, I needed my form stamped by immigration. I hadn’t seen any sort of immigration check-point, but back we went. It was at least a 1 / 2 mile from where we were at a sort of round kiosk.
The bored attendant stamped my paper and sent me on my way. This time we jumped on the moving sidewalk to make up for the lost time. Wasn’t there a video game that had those in them? We didn’t have time for any of these shenanigans though.
Regardless, we got just as the boarding began and everything was hunky dory. The flight was slightly turbulent but uneventful. Passengers clapped when we landed in Chicago. I filled out a customs declaration form on the plane but no one ever asked for it.
Then we had to pick up our bag and go through customs. We stood by the turnstile as the baggage handler tossed our suitcase into the air. It was rather worse for wear but the saran wrapped kept it together. We checked the bag and headed to the customs kiosk. Our passports were scanned and our faces were photographed. We handed the paperwork to the clerk and headed to the front door.
I wasn’t sure what we had to do since we needed to head to another terminal. A guy in a reflective yellow vest sent us to a tent to wait for a shuttle to the other terminal. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to get off at terminal one or two. A flight attendant on board the shuttle helped me out there.
Then we had to check in at the United counter again, get in line and go through security. This took longer than anticipated. We were behind three different families with limited English skills and babies in strollers. Shoes off, food out of the bags, nothing in pockets, laptops exposed, voila. I even got a “good” from the cranky security guy on my article arrangement in the bin.
Then we had to get into this airlock to get scanned. All of this was new to me. It seems it zeros in on bulges. My sports bra sent up a bulge signal and I got the patdown. I suppose it could be worse?
Then we went the wrong way and spend a frantic 20 minutes looking for our departing gate. The flight was delayed anyway because of electrical problems. There was a Starbucks by the gate and we took advantage of a caffeine hit. Did you know you could get bottled water from Fiji for $5?
A rather large group of high school students were on our flight. Most of them went through by running their phones over the scanner. We were old school and had paper boarding passes. All this new technology!
This flight was equipped with personal TVs. The controls were on the hand rests which I didn’t know and kept inadvertently changing my son’s channels. The safety demonstration was done right on the TV too. The flight was quite bumpy. My son said it wasn’t, but they stopped serving drinks at one point and told the flight attendants to have a seat.
The Philadelphia landing was rough. Nobody clapped. Maybe that’s just a Mexican thing?
We headed out to pick up our bag which would have been battered beyond all recognition except it was the only one with the blue saran wrap. We must have walked another mile or so before we reached the pick-up area. My little brother arrived after a brief wait to pick us up.