I knew when we booked the late flight that we might be asking for disaster on our trip out of Kansas City. I actually flew to Denver on Saturday for my cousin's wedding and flew back to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. My flight was supposed to land at 1:10 pm and I was going to meet Josh with the kids for our 3:55 pm flight to Florida.
I boarded my plane in Denver, but we didn't take off. There was a mechanical issue and after about an hour, they kicked us all off the plane. I almost had to get on a flight directly to Tampa or Ft. Lauderdale, but they brought in a new plane and got us off the ground just in time. Seriously, my flight from Denver landed at KCI about 15 minutes before our flight to Florida started boarding, but, I made it and felt like we had averted a near-disaster.
The first leg of our flight was uneventful and we landed in Tampa right on time. Even though it was already a little late for our kids, they were pretty excited to be traveling, so they were wired. The Tampa airport was pretty empty, so we found a nearly deserted section of the terminal and let the kids burn off a little steam.
Max and Ava used the open space as a wrestling arena and Lia used Josh as a jungle gym. We figured maybe they would get a little of the wild out of them before we boarded our next flight. We started wandering the airport looking for food and realized they have a "kids' play area". I use quotation marks because the whole play area consisted of just one airplane, but nonetheless, our kids felt like they hit the lottery.
While the kids were busy playing zombies or something like that, I got a text update from Southwest saying weather delayed our flight by an hour and a half. So, instead of leaving at 10:15 pm and arriving at 11:10 pm, we were now leaving at 11:45 pm and landing at 12:40 am. Josh and I looked at each other and just shook our heads. Our kids are early-to-bedders. At home, they typically go to bed by 8 pm.
For about five minutes, we considered changing all our plans and just staying in Tampa. But changing airfare sounded like a pain. Then we considered changing our car rental to Tampa and driving to Ft. Lauderdale. We would arrive in Ft. Lauderdale an hour or so earlier than waiting on our delayed flight, after all, but then decided we were crazy and would just wait for our delayed flight.
We convinced the kids to leave the play area long enough to grab a late night dinner at one of the airport restaurants. We had hours to kill and I wasn't sure how we were going to avoid meltdown city. Somehow though, their adrenaline kicked in and they literally ran around the play area having the time of their lives for hours. They ran and they jumped and they climbed on the airplane. And then a kid with a horse head mask showed up, played with them for a few minutes, took a selfie with the kids, and left. It was simultaneously the most random and most awesome thing I've ever experienced in an airport.
Finally, 11:45 pm rolled around and we boarded our flight to Ft. Lauderdale. We had another uneventful flight, even with tired kids. We let them watch a movie on their iPads and I really think that helped keep them calm. We landed at FLL and decided to split up to get out of there as quickly as possible. Josh went to baggage claim and I headed straight for the rental car counter.
Hitting the Road
There were a few other people in line at the Alamo counter and then I saw the kiosks. I made a beeline straight for those and within 5 minutes, I had all the boxes checked and only needed to change the driver from myself to Josh. The guy behind the counter had to help me with that, but he took care of everything quickly and easily. I was oh-so-grateful for that, especially since it was SO late. He even walked us to the cars and told us which one he thought would work best for our family.
We loaded into our car and headed for the hotel I had booked on Priceline. Unfortunately, we didn't have quite the amazing experience at the hotel as we did at the rental car counter. I had booked us a room on Priceline and they forced me to upgrade and pay double once we got there so we could have a non-smoking room. Max and Ava both have Cystic Fibrosis, so sleeping in a smoking room is not an option for our family.
After the disaster at the hotel check-in, it was 2 am when we got ourselves all tucked into bed. We were exhausted, but we made it safely!
Total - $2500
Airfare - $1380
Car rental - $160
Food - $40
Hotel - $105
Remaining funds - $815