So when we received the invitation in the mail for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah across the country, two things came to mind:
1) I was excited for the Little & Littler Dudes to play with their cousins
2) I didn’t know how we’d make it to LAX with enough time to catch our flight
For most people, it probably wouldn’t be a problem. But this was our first trip with two kids and all of the accoutrement they require. Mrs. Dude is an expert trip preparer, but there was still the variable logistics of actually executing the gameplan.
Having lived in LA for 13+ years, I’ve flown back to Ohio countless times over that period and almost always taken a nonstop morning flight around 11:00am. For some reason the airline (whose name rhymes with Shmunited) discontinued that flight for the two-week period which just so happened to coincide with our trip. Not sure why, but presumably they wanted to ensure this trip was even more fun for us by forcing us to stop and change planes en route.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:57am and we live almost 30 minutes from LAX. In most cities, that would be a 30-40 minute trip. In LA it can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and no, I’m not exaggerating. Knowing we had to drop our bags at least 45 minutes before departure, we had to be at the ticket counter by 9:12am. I figured leaving the house at 7:00am would give us plenty of time to do the following:
1) Drive the 30 miles
2) Park the car
3) Unpack the car, carseats and kids and transfer them all to the shuttle
4) Get on shuttle to airport and hope they drive fast
5) Unload bags from shuttle
6) Get the bags inside and drop them at the counter
7) Get through security
8) Make it to gate before they close the plane’s door
Naturally we forgot a couple things and didn’t end up leaving until 7:30am. The race was on. Though I’ve performed this jig many times, it never gets any less stressful and this time the stakes were higher than ever. If we missed our flight, we were really screwed. The diapers were packed.
After some careful maneuvering, we pulled into The Parking Spot at 8:42am. I'd seen their big spotted shuttles for many years, but had never tried them and now I was putting their service to the test. We had exactly half an hour to get inside the terminal with all our stuff. I knew that the only option in such a time crunch was to valet the car. We pulled into the valet area and an attendant jumped to help us get everything out of the car. When I opened the rear hatch of my SUV, her eyes popped and she quickly grabbed a hotel-style luggage cart and started pulling everything out. Within a minute or so our suitcases, car seats and carry-ons were all stacked Jenga-style on the cart. Thirty seconds later she and the driver had loaded them onto the shuttle.
This is when the trip got exciting for the Little Dude and nerve wracking for me. He was enamored by the shuttle bus. He went and took a seat in the very back of the crowded shuttle and excitedly looked around and out the windows before shouting “let’s go!” as though he was ready to kickstart a horse. Mrs. Dude held the Littler Dude and I watched as his 3-year-old brother made friends with the businessmen who were leisurely headed to their flights, both literally and figuratively baggage-free.
As the shuttle rolled into LAX, the Little Dude repeatedly exclaimed “this is fun!”. Watching him glow made it fun for me, bringing my stress level down quite a bit. As Prince’s Darling Nikki played on the shuttle’s stereo, we made our trip around the oval LAX upper concourse to our terminal.
We pulled up, the last stop, naturally, and the driver helped us disembark faster than a psychic on the Titanic. As we juggled our suitcases, kids and carry-ons, we made it to the ticket counter with 9 minutes to spare and dropped our bags with a deep exhale. Mission accomplished.
NOTE: I was given free parking at The Parking Spot and wrote this post because they saved me from having to walk 2,000 miles. All opinions expressed within are entirely mine, for better or worse.