#AmericanAirlinesFAIL at Family Friendly Traveling, updated 4.24.15

UPDATE 4.24.15 – #AmericanAirlinesFAIL Part 2: The Saga Continues 10 months Later

I’ve used this blog as a platform for sharing my family ups and downs, giveaways, updates on pregnancies, freebies, and now I’m sharing about my recent travel experience. George (@mrpreggers) and I recently hauled the family across the country all the way to CALIFORNIA for some family fun and my Take Shape For Life convention. Our weeklong vacation was awesome! Hands down it was amazing to take our babes to some seriously awesome places and create memories that hopefully Ab will remember and poor Jack will live through via pictures. But I’m going to have to share these experiences with you in a different post, this post is reserved for the epic fail that is American Airlines.

We started our travels at Dayton International Airport via American Airlines and it was GREAT! We brought our checked bags, one each per paid ticket which was Ab, George and myself, and we had our carry-ons, our stroller that holds both babes and both carseats. YES that is a lot but from my research it was all okay to bring with us. I was concerned with our stroller only because I have only traveled Southwest Airlines with Abbey and never been on this airline before so my first question at the ticket counter was, do I need to check the stroller or can it be checked at the gate. The lady at the ticket counter was so nice and assured us that it was okay for the stroller to be checked at the gate, FABULOUS! So our trek across the country via plane started in Dayton with a slight layover in Dallas then our final arrival at LAX.

Fast forward a week and a day and we are checking in at LAX this morning at 8:00am – what a disaster! We still had all the same stuff and started checking it all in at the ticket counter with no help and the ticket agent noticed our stress and requested a younger man to help with our bags, she was our saving grace in the morning but then it all went downhill from there.

Once we left the ticket agent and headed up the elevator (that the ticket agent pointed out for us because of our stroller) and started for TSA, we were stopped by an American Airline employee. Stopped because our stroller was too big to be gate checked. WHAT?!?! No problem, I stayed calm because this was clearly a mistake as we traveled from Dayton to LAX with said stroller with no problems. A supervisor was called over to help us and at this point I’m sweating bullets that we are going to be late for our flight, we hadn’t even gone through TSA yet on a busy Sunday morning at the LAX airport. The supervisor comes over and I’m basically doing a demonstration on how amazing our stroller is and she was not impressed. She had me take off some of the “parts” which were Jack’s Chicco car seat and the adapter for our City Select Stroller then head back downstairs to weigh my stroller. We went downstairs, weighed the stroller and it was over the “24lb” weight limit that was news to me as a weight limit for gate checked strollers.

The supervisor was super helpful despite my fear/panicked/sobbing attitude. All I kept thinking about was, “how are we going to get through some of the busiest airports, LAX and Chicago, without our stroller?” We had our carry-ons and diaper bag and really how do you carry a 3 month old infant and keep track of a very busy toddler while man-handling all the bags with diapers, extra clothes, snacks, games, etc?

The supervisor called over a new ticket agent to check our stroller – ARGH – and I said that if that was the case then the car seat and adapter for the stroller needed to be checked too (how are we going to carry those along with all the other stuff I listed and the two kiddos?) and that’s when the attitude started….the ticket agent was laying in on me about how I shouldn’t have brought such a heavy stroller, WHAT?!?!

As a reminder, we made it through Dayton to Dallas to LAX with this same stroller and stuff with ease, how could we not make it back?

Hands tied, we had to check our stroller…

I took the opportunity to share this experience via Twitter, what else would I do? @AmericanAir was extremely responsive but not too helpful.

Three airplanes later we arrived in Dayton tonight around 7:45pm and headed to baggage claim to pick up all of our stuff. Great news, it was all there! BAD NEWS, our stroller was BROKE! Yes, BROKE!

American Airline Broke Our Stroller photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

Hmmmm….bad attitude ticket agent (second one) at LAX about our stroller and now it is broke….coincidence?

So in Dayton I had to track down an American Airline employee to get help on the broke stroller and to see what could be done. We met Amy and she was so sweet and so helpful but poor Amy couldn’t help us much. She was empathetic and really was upset that LAX made us check our stroller and didn’t understand, Amy was also upset that our stroller was broke and suggested that we surrender to the damage claims which meant losing our stroller for a week while it was either being fixed or replaced via insurance. We were okay with this option and waited for Amy to write up the paperwork.

BUT then Amy came back to us with more bad news, she had to call her supervisor, Alan, to help her with the paperwork and he said that per policy strollers were NOT covered under the damage claims and that he would be out to talk to us. So we waited and waited and waited. In the meantime I had George getting the car so we could load up and go to get the kids home at a somewhat decent time. When Alan came out to talk to me he had the policy paperwork all printed out and highlighted the section that spelled out how strollers were not covered. I explained how LAX forced me, they FORCED ME to check the stroller and then broke it and how was that not covered but Alan was just referring back to the policy. I asked him if he as a person, not an employee, thought it was fair for a family to travel from Dayton to LAX without checking the stroller then being forced to check it from LAX back to Dayton and then it was broke. He thought it was, and that’s when I knew that he wouldn’t be that helpful. I asked for someone else to help me and he suggested his manager Rodney and that’s where this story pauses for now. I have already left Rodney a message and expect to get a phone call from him by tomorrow and I can’t wait to hear his answer when I ask the question:

How will you help me brag about you and your company?

Because right now, it’s not great what I’m posting to Twitter/Facebook/Blog and I ask all of you to help me! Please retweet my posts on www.Twitter.com/JesyHerron and please share my story. I don’t think it’s fair that I was forced to check our stroller and then it was broke by American Airlines and they won’t do a thing for me. They want me to work with baggage services but I was told that their policy is policy. Does that seem fair? This is a $500 stroller and it needs to be replaced!!! We would love your help!! Love you all!!

7 months young

As a quick update, Abbey is already 7 months and is pretty much the happiest baby ever. She is a constant joy and entertainment to George and I with her squealing and screaming and beaming smile. Abbey loves playing with her toys and is pretty good at keeping herself entertained on the floor with her big brother Housch keeping a close watch. We have discovered that she really doesn’t like carrots and paper plates (lol) but she devours sweet potatoes, her oatmeal and pretty much any fruit that we put in front of her. At this point there are no teeth visible and really no signs of them popping out anytime soon. Lots of drool but that’s been going on for a while now. We want Abbey to get used to a “sippy” cup so I introduced one last week that has a straw. Occasionally she’ll get some and she is quite proud of herself when she does however she doesn’t have this mastered quite yet and I think it will be a while before she does. I might try another type of cup without the straw as she does pretty good with taking little sips from my water bottle.

My summer baby has been sporting every bathing suit she owns (including her bikini <—–) and loved playing on the beach in North Carolina as well as playing at our local pool. Abbey attracts attention from all the little kids at the Sharonville pool including her buddy Sean this weekend. Sean and Abbey played for about an hour as Abbey watched Sean fill up and dump her pool bucket with water. George and I have to keep an extra close on our baby girl since she’s already flirting with the older boys! Of course Abbey loves her #1 man, her daddy! The only real “word” she knows and repeats over and over is “da” although she hasn’t associated the word with George quite yet. Whenever George says “da-da-da-da” to Abbey she just grins or flat out laughs at him. Something he should get used to! I’m still trying to get Abbey to say “mama” but the closest sound I get to this is “nommmmmm-a-nommmmmm” which is the sound she makes the entire time she’s eating (except when she eats carrots) her food.

We think Abbey is close to crawling and has been positioning herself on her hands and knees quite a few times in the last few weeks. She started this while we were on vacation and I think it was because she was constantly on carpet. We added a comfy rug to our living room floor this weekend to help encourage her to crawl so crossing fingers we’ll be at this stage very soon (I’m going to regret this statement, aren’t I?). This means that George and I will now be crawling all over the house to see what shenanigans Abbey will be getting into very soon. Also a warning to the dog….look out Housh, if her squealing is any indication of her personality I’m sure she will be attacking the four-legged brother!

Abbey had her first experience with Rouster’s Blueberry picking this past Saturday. Actually, both George AND Abbey were there for the first time. I had so much fun introducing Abbey (and George) to the many customers that I see year after year and have gotten to know just through storytelling while they pick. One customer in particular actually purchased Abbey an outfit and sent it to the hospital with my Uncle when Abbey was born. When I saw her this past Saturday she was elated to finally meet Abbey and was just so excited for George and I “to finally have a baby” after our loss with Hope. Others were just happy to play and coo at her and Abbey was just as happy to people watch and play on her blanket under the shade of a blueberry bush. George was on pond duty and took his job seriously, I think the Rouster’s want him back next week! There was even a celebrity siting this time, Anthony Munoz and his family were out picking at the farm.

I’ll leave you with one quick video of Abbey going down the slide (with help from mommy) at the Sharonville pool this past weekend. The best is in the beginning of the video, George introduces Abbey going down the slide and Abbey on cue screams super loud as if responding to her daddy. Have a great week!

 

Traveling as a Party of Three

George and I enjoy traveling and have had the advantage to do so quite a few times since our dating years. We’ve gone on vacations with my family, his family, our friends, and just the two of us. This year will be different since we will be traveling as a party of three. I’m really looking forward to taking Abbey on her first vacation but there is quite a bit of prep work in the research and planning ahead to ensure (try to ensure) smooth sailing.

{En Route}

We have decided that we are going to fly for our first trip with Abbey and thanks to my pediatrician, George and many other moms online I feel like I have a pretty good plan for this leg of our trip. I have actually called ahead to Southwest Airlines to double check on the necessary documents that we will need to get Abbey on the plane and how to help Abbey’s ears pop while taking off and landing but the next big concern is the stroller and car seat combo as checked luggage. I’m sure it will all work out but I’m thinking of calling Southwest Airlines ONE MORE TIME just to be sure we are okay to bring the car seat and stroller with us to the gate and once we board the plane they will stow it away. Have you had to do this with your little ones? I’m just a bit leery!

{What to Pack?}

Packing for myself is hard enough and now I’m packing for a baby! At first I thought it was a piece of cake. I was actually able to fit Abbey’s Fisher Price Sleep and Play Rocker in the large suitcase and then her clothes would start to be packed around the rocker. But then I started to remember all the little things and it was starting to get the best of me. I would begin to ask myself, “How will Abbey take a bath?” “What if it is really cold at night, how many pants and long sleeves versus short sleeves and shorts should I pack?” “What about diapers and wipes?” “I can’t forget to pack her toys!” To be honest, I need to let this all go, it’s not like we are traveling to a little island off the coast of nowheresville, we are going to FLORIDA for crying out loud. Florida will have everything we Cincinnatians have so I can pick up the little things I forgot once I actually remember that I need them in the first place. The most hilarious part of this is that Abbey is now the one with the BIGGEST suitcase and the most baggage for this trip. The suitcase that will house her sleep rocker, clothes, toys and other accessories used to be the suitcase I used to pack all of my clothes and shoes. Out of all things I have packed for Abbey, the most odd one is her portable bathtub. I even think I went too far with that item.

Share your favorite (or most horrible) travel experience with your kiddos or share the time you first took your little one on the plane. I’m REALLY interested in that experience!

2012 #Ford #Explorer #Driveone

For the past week I’ve been Tweeting, Facebooking (is that even a word?), checking into Foursquare and posting a video to YouTube all referencing my week-long experience of driving a 2012 Ford Explorer thanks to Lebanon Ford. If you follow me on any of these social media channels than you have probably seen the status updates, pictures, check-ins and my video but I’m going to give my detailed experience here on my blog to help wrap up the week.

Last Thursday evening, @BellorZ (a.k.a. Zach from Lebanon Ford) dropped off the 2012 Ford Explorer to help kick off Lebanon Ford’s Drive One 4A Week Program and after a tutorial from Alex with the myTech Team I was ready to “explore” with my temporary Explorer.  One of the many cool things about this campaign is that Lebanon Ford really makes you feel like this vehicle is truly YOUR vehicle for the week. When Alex was giving me a tutorial on the Sync technology (which we’ll get to in a bit) he loaded my phone and all my contacts so that I really was able to experience the Explorer and all the features that came along with it.

{My #Ford #Explorer #Driveone Experience}

The past week was similar to any other week in regards to my driving habits; I was up to my parent’s house at least once, up to George’s parent’s house at least once, to the grocery store, back and forth to work and other extras like going to The Black Keys concert and picking up George’s dad from the Dayton airport. Needless to say I used my approximately 250 miles and one free tank of gas to almost the last mile (there are 25 miles left until empty). My family of three enjoyed the Explorer and the space that we had when others were in the car with us. So many features that I loved with the Explorer, check out my list below.

LOVE

  • Key-less engine start up – was a bit odd to get used to but really loved that you could just get in, press the brake and push the “Start Engine” button then go. 
  • Remote start – SOOOOO nice to have on the cold day especially with Abbey.
  • Third row seating
  • Heated seats – woah, loved the toasty buns! Pretty much going to be a must in my next vehicle.
  • Huge sun roof – In Cincinnati you could have the sun roof open one day and the heated seats on the next and that is pretty much what happened this week.
  • Many safety features including “air bag” seat belts.
  • Reverse safety was another favorite feature, when the Explorer was put in reverse you could view the area through the rear camera when you were backing up. I could quite literally prove to my husband that I was NOT the one driving through the yard when I was backing out of the driveway because the proof was right in front of his eyes. Of course I still get blamed 🙂
  • Part of the reverse safety and back up camera was also the feature of having the Explorer tell you when a car was coming and to stop backing up. Let me paint the picture for you: You are at Kroger in Blue Ash during a peak grocery shopping time. You get all the groceries packed up and you are trying to reverse out of your parking spot. If you know the Blue Ash Kroger you know that cars are coming from every direction and you pretty much need to have your head on a swivel to remain safe. Not with the Explorer! The Ford Explorer will tell you that a car is coming from the left or right and it helps you to not be a victim of the mad mom’s in their mini vans doing 90 mph in the parking lot. 
  • Blind spot safety was also pretty cool. When you were on the highway you could check your side mirrors for an orange light to show up when it was not safe to change lanes, meaning some car was in your blind spot.
  • Did I mention the “trunk” space? The back of the Explorer (while the third row seats are up right) has a great amount of room. I was able to get my normal grocery shopping trip packed into the trunk with no problem. But if we did need to haul a heavier load, the seats easily fold down or can be stowed so that you have a flat space with just a push of a button.
  • Another great “trunk” feature that was a favorite was the ability to push a button to open the rear latch or push another button and it closed. When I picked my father-in-law up from the airport, it was easy to pop open the back latch for him to drop in his luggage then press the button again for the latch to close all while I was in the driver seat.

I haven’t even got to the best part…..

  • Sync technology is super cool! Syncing my iPhone to the Explorer took all of minutes then syncing George’s phone was all very simple too. We were both able to sync our phones but would need to choose which was connected at one given time for phone calls, makes sense. I really did love that I could connect my phone with bluetooth and all calls coming in and going out were extremely clear. Never did I have anyone complain that they could not hear me. And TRUST me, I used this feature a LOT. Friday during the tornado-like storm I was talking with one member of my family at all times and not once did I lose connection or have a problem hearing them. This was a handy feature so that I could concentrate on white-knuckling the steering wheel to get to a safe place. 
Funny story…..
  • While driving the Explorer, George and I had to stop at the ATM. As I was hanging out of the Explorer getting money, the guy in an Escape behind me yelled out and asked if I liked my new SUV. I told him I did, but explained that it wasn’t “mine” and briefed him on the Drive One 4A week campaign. He mentioned to me that he and his wife loved the new Explorers and asked what I loved about the vehicle. I told him a few of my favorites as mentioned above and of course dropped the Lebanon Ford dealership for him to purchase from and gave him my blog address so that he could read about my review. You just never know who you will meet!

Needs Improved

  • The design for the console and “main control” area didn’t really give room for my iPhone. Sure I could stow it away (and maybe that is what they want you to do) but as user friendly the Explorer was to sync with my phone I could never find that right spot to stow it while driving. I just sort of let it sit in a cup holder until we had those both utilized.
  • I mentioned that we had a great amount of space above (we could fit more people) but then there was the space with the Abbey’s car seat. We put Abbey behind the passenger seat but in order for it to fit we had to move the passenger seat up to accommodate the space the car seat needed just to snap into the base. I could see this being an issue with more than one car seat and having to put a car seat behind the driver, what if the driver had long legs? 
  • Although I loved the Sync technology there is still room for improvement. This is mostly the case with all technology which is the beauty of it because you can always make it better. There were times when my phone would be connected and I could make calls with it but for some reason I couldn’t listen to my music. Little things like that would happen. We did figure out that you would need to have the Explorer in park and that would help sync up the music but again, slightly annoying.
  • The screen or what I was calling the “Main Controller” has mini dots all over it from my finger prints and that drives me CRAZY! Of course the main controller is touch screen so you are touching it to make either a change in the interior climate or make a phone call (you can also use the steering wheel for this – LOVED that) so it is inevitable for it to get dirty. How would you keep that clean?
  • Hard to get money out at the ATM when you are 5′ 2″ but that could be a height challenge more than a Ford Explorer problem 🙂
Overall, I was completely impressed with the 2012 Ford Explorer and I’m so grateful for my experience with Lebanon Ford. Everyone I have talked to from the dealership is personable and willing to help answer any questions with their myTech Team representatives basically on call for all their customers. I loved my opportunity to be part of the Drive One 4A Week campaign and would like to extend the offer to all of you. Just simply go to this link and fill out the form for the same opportunity that I had with Lebanon Ford.
And don’t forget to check out my video, there is an Abbey appearance!

For the lawyers: In full disclosure Lebanon Ford gave me a $25 PF Chang Gift Card for my family and I to enjoy some dinner during the #driveone campaign. Thank you again Lebanon Ford!