An Italian Miracle; or, How We Missed a Flight but Didn't

We made the mistake of failing to book the lap-child ticket when we ordered plane tickets from Jeddah to Palermo. That meant that at every stop (four of them), we had to repeatedly explain our dilemma until we were at length directed to the correct desk where we could book and pay for the baby’s ticket. We nearly missed our flight from Rome to Palermo because of this. Even the check-in attendants were hand-fanning themselves and sympathy-running by the time Joey came sprinting down the hallway to the gate. We avoided all eye contact with the waiting passengers as we made our way to our seats in the back of the plane.

Chilly temps in Sicily called for winter attire.
Astoundingly, the timing was even tighter on the return trip. By the time we arrived to get our boarding passes in Milan, the gate had already closed (an hour early!). We were told we’d have to get another flight in a few days, and it would mean several more connections and maybe even a bus ride. Which sounded absolutely miserable with a baby.

On a whim, we went to the ticket counter and asked another attendant if there was any hope for us. She said probably not, but we could try going to the gate to see if they’d let us on the airplane. (We didn’t explain that we hadn’t had time to buy the lap-child ticket for Tess. Too much information is sometimes just too much information.) It was worth a shot, even if it was really, really, really unlikely.

But first we’d have to get through security. People behind us were tapping their toes impatiently as we explained to the security guard that, yes, we had no boarding passes, but could we please go to the plane anyway? It seemed completely futile. After he explained again that he couldn’t let us through without a boarding pass, he took another look at the baby and then called to his manager.

The manager was surprisingly amiable. After hearing our story, he led us through security and told us to wait while he asked the aircrew if we could still get on the plane. Joey and I churned stomach acid while we waited. After what seemed like the longest time, the manager returned, and to my absolute surprise, announced that we were cleared to go.

And by “go,” he meant “run.” Jouncing up and down, travel-tired, and hungry, Tess sometimes giggled and sometimes cried in protest as we ran through hallway after hallway. I prayed that when we finally reached the gate, we’d find agents who, like that security manager, would be short on questions and long on mercy.

And wouldn’t you know it? That’s just what we found. Although they noted in confusion that there didn’t seem to be a ticket for the baby, they were able to conjure one for us after examining her passport. And we still had twenty minutes to spare before boarding the plane. It just goes to show you: sometimes asking impossible favors can get you impossible favors. 

P.S. In case you were wondering, yes, our luggage was lost in that snafu.