It began January 2nd, 2018 after getting very little sleep the night before we were on our way to Austin airport at 5:30am. Most of January 1st was spent in urgent care trying to get antibiotics for an infection and to make sure I didn't have a cold. Nevertheless, we were excited to be on our way to Jamaica to finally be married after 12 years of being together. We were also excited to get out of the bitter cold that was sweeping the nation. There were so many things to be excited about, the scuba diving we had planned, the excursion, the wedding, the relaxation on the beach, the list can go on. My wife (Jess) was more excited than I was as I'm not a huge fan of traveling and I like to reserve my excitement for when we actually get to the destination. However everything seemed to be going well this morning, we got to the airport early, traffic was very light, we got right on the shuttle after we parked, the security line was quick and easy, and our friends were right behind us coming into the airport. Everything was looking good right up until our boarding time... when there was no one at the gate to board us. Fifteen minutes past our boarding time and still no one to board us, thirty minutes past our boarding time and finally someone comes out and starts the boarding process. After everyone boarded the plane we sat with the doors open for another ten minutes wondering what was going on. At this point our flight from Houston to Jamaica was delayed as there were thirteen of us on this flight connecting to that flight. It was now forty five minutes past our departure time when the captain asked us all to depart the plane as they had a mechanical issue that they would not be able to fix on the tarmac. At this point I could see the panic and utter distress set in on Jess' face as she grabbed her wedding dress down from the overhead storage and made her way off of the plane.
Let's go back a couple months to add some perspective. It was June when we decided we would be getting married in Jamaica at Sandals Ochi. After months of trying to decide where, when, and how to be married we finally made a decision. We originally decided to get married on January 5th, 2018, it was the resort that suggested we get married on the 4th, exactly two days after getting to Jamaica which is the requirement by Jamaican law to legally be married there. Fast forward a couple months, the invitations are sent out the plans are made, the photographers hired, and the flights are scheduled. The dress is chosen,(tears were shed) altered and hidden from me. The suit is picked, altered and matched with the appropriate tie, shirt, and shoes. All that's left to do is wait for the day to come and write some vowels. Sounds easy but the waiting is the hard part, let's be honest, we count down every day until we're there. We build expectations in our minds to help us get excited for the trip and all of the fun activities. We plan all of the things we're going to do and what we're going to take. For me, I plan what equipment I'll be taking and what I would like to be shooting while there. However, as we all know we can plan day in and day out but you can never really know what's going to happen or plan for the unexpected turns life throws at you.
So there we were standing in the Austin airport after being told to depart the plane. There is one person helping a plane of 190 people find new flights to get to their destination. We are being told that they will help us based on our city destination with international flights being the priority. Jess is in a panic not knowing what we can do as no one is helping us or answering any questions. Our flight to Jamaica is still delayed so we're hoping that if we can just catch a flight to Houston maybe they'll hold the plane for us, maybe we can still make it. We anxiously check for other flights out of Austin on our phones, one person is on the phone with the airline company trying to get them to help us get another flight. The one person helping the 190 plus of us is getting two people on this flight, three people on that flight none of which are international flights. Two hours after our flight time they finally call our city, Montego bay, thirteen of us step up trying to get answers. They tell us we will be boarding a flight at the gate we just left to Houston where they will be putting us up in a hotel. If the panic wasn't bad enough already, now Jess is really panicking as she starts crying and trying to figure out what to do. All I can do is reassure her that the best thing for us to do is get to Houston and hope they can help us there. This is not easy for me as I'm not sure myself that we will make it to our destination today and the last thing I want is to see her crying in an airport when she was so excited to be in Jamaica today. Still we get on the plane and wait for thirty minutes before they close the doors and we start taxiing to the runway. Then yet again we are delayed as we have to wait for air traffic control to clear us for a flight to Houston, which took fifteen more minutes.
Finally we're in Houston, almost three hours late. Almost everyone on the flight heading straight to the customer service desk to get help. We manage to get there along with the rest of the travelers to Jamaica all demanding to be put on another flight to Jamaica today. The ladies at the desk were having none of it and weren't willing to help anyone get anywhere so a supervisor was demanded. At this point with three of us looking for flights to Jamaica on our phones it is becoming more and more real that we will be stuck in Houston overnight. Now this isn't the worst thing that could happen but when you have to be in Jamaica for at least 48 hours before you can legally be married it does present a big problem for us. There's no guarantee that they can move our wedding day and even if they can we hired an offsite photographer that may not be able to shoot our wedding a day later. I can see this is all setting in for Jess as we wait for the supervisor. Since she was the one that scheduled everything in her name she would have to be the one to make the call to find out if any of this would be possible. Again all I can do is try to reassure her that we will get married one way or another we will get married, this obviously wasn't helping much.
As she was on the phone with the resort I was dealing with the supervisor and trying to get us on a different flight. It was then that it became a reality that we would not be getting to Jamaica today and they would pay for a hotel room for us and give us meal vouchers. The next flight wouldn't be until tomorrow afternoon. I tried to explain to the woman helping us that if we didn't get to Jamaica today we wouldn't be able to get married. She seemed to have no sympathy as there was nothing they could do to help us. At this time the resort told Jess that we would not be able to get married on Thursday as planned, cue the waterworks. This is heartbreaking for me as my future wife holds her wedding dress in an airport unable to stop crying unsure of what to do. As she stands there holding the phone and her dress breaking down in tears I have two decisions, console her and let her cry on my shoulder for a while as I tell her everything will be ok or, try to keep her focused on seeing if the resort can move the wedding day to Friday. I've never been much for consoling people, I think it's the fire fighter in me, I know that I can console people and try to make them feel better or I can act and in the case of a fire try to save their house and belongings and 9 out of 10 times I will choose to act and make the difference. Thankfully her best friend was with us and was able to console her while I tried to get us on the earliest flight to Jamaica the next day.
After collecting herself enough to continue talking to the resort she was able to get some resolution. The resort said they would move the wedding date to Friday but we should try to get into Jamaica as soon as possible. Somewhat fortunately there was a 5am flight out of Houston to Orlando and then from Orlando to Montego Bay with an arrival time of 12:30. The other option was a direct flight from Houston to Montego Bay with an arrival time of 2:30pm. We opted for the earlier flight knowing that it added another variable of uncertainty by adding another flight but we would arrive at least two hours earlier. Now we just had to get ahold of our photographer and see if he can shoot our wedding on Friday instead of Thursday. Thankfully he was free on Friday and was somewhat happy the day was moved as he was recovering from the flu, so crisis diverted. We lost a day of vacation time but we can still get married and have our photographer onsite. Now we have to cancel our scuba diving and see if we can reschedule our excursion from Friday to Thursday. Unfortunately we weren't able to move the excursion to Thursday but we could do it Sunday which meant my parents wouldn't be able to join us. Luckily we were able to get a full refund for that. There is still a lot of worry but the massive weight has been somewhat lifted. Now we can just go collect our bags that have to go through international security since they were checked for international, right after we grab some food with our voucher. Wendy's was the stop since it was quick and easy and we could take it on the go and wouldn't you know they were out of frosty's and nuggets. It's now about an hour after our flight landed and our bags have still not arrived. So naturally we're thinking our bags are now lost but they're telling us they just haven't made their way through security yet. Finally the woman tells us she's going to go add our bags to the belt to come out. After waiting about fifteen minutes all but one bag made it's way out, my bag. After talking to the lady again she was adamant that she put my bag on the belt but she would check again. Five minutes later she came out with my bag and said it got stuck and fell off of the belt; at least she found it. Now we can go have a drink.