Thursday, May 19, 2016

Getting to Baku

We arrived in Baku Thursday one week ago, but for a moment there I wasn't sure we would arrive at all. We didn't get the girl's visas in time for our scheduled May 5 departure and so Jason went on ahead with the cats and some of the suitcases. We had to re-schedule with another date and picked the following Thursday hoping we would get them in time. Jason's boss had no problem with him flying back to accompany us for the trip. However, it takes a full day of travel (three flights) to get from Stavanger to Baku (and vice versa) so by the time we got word late Tuesday afternoon that the visas were ready and being mailed to arrive Wednesday there wasn't time for Jason to fly back and accompany us.

I had the idea for him to meet us in Frankfurt which is the longest leg and would mean that he would be there to help with customs clearance and collecting all the baggage. The first two flights were just a 45 min to Oslo and a 1 hour, 30 min to Frankfurt. I knew that I could handle those by myself.

We have the most amazing friends. Kemi and her husband Jan Erik gave us an extra suitcase, helped load baggage, and watched the girls Wednesday afternoon. Joy and Ron met us bright and early at the airport with all of the ridiculous amount of bags and helped unload, watch babies, put on luggage tags, plastic wrap suitcases, and get them check in. Tim and Sandy met me at the house to help get the girls ready and load the last bit of luggage and also accompanied us to the airport to help get us off. There is no way I would have been able to do that on my own. It took 3 vehicles and 5 adults y'all. It's a good thing we had so many hands on deck because when I went to check in they told me I wasn't allowed to fly...

So here's the airline rules for anyone not seasoned with air travel with littles. You are allowed to travel with a child and two infants so long as at least one infant is in an FAA approved car seat. A child is considered anyone over 2 years old (when they aren't allowed to be a lap infant). I know these rules because I have flown before with all three girls and booked the tickets that way. We purchased a seat for all four of us and planned to bring both car seats on the plane. No problem right? Wrong. Apparently SAS doesn't know their own policies. (Side note - super unimpressed with SAS - it took Jason over an hour to check the cats in because they screwed up their reservation and then they did the payment wrong and he almost wasn't allowed to board in Frankfurt. Add the hassle and rudeness we experienced with their representatives adding the cats reservation and now my hassle, we are through with SAS airlines and that's now two of the three Star Alliance that I refuse to fly any more. End side rant.)

After arguing with me that I was trying to travel with three infants and having an SAS representative tell me she was a grandmother of twins and I was being unsafe and putting my children at risk, I was pretty fed up. Someone somewhere must have been praying for me because God is the only thing that kept me from losing my cool I was so irate and frustrated. When they finally confirmed that I was correct and I was allowed to fly they told me they couldn't promise that Lufthansa would allow me to board in Oslo and that while they don't recommend or condone my choice to fly with all three solo I would be allowed to check in and board if I wanted. Damn straight I will take that risk and be done with you SAS. All in all it was over an hour and a half this mess took. So then we could finally check in our 16 pieces of luggage (which had been sitting at the check in counter blocking like four lanes - HA!)

Besides that little hiccup, I can honestly say that everyone was amazing during the actual travel. The SAS flight crew, the Lufthansa flight crew, and the passengers on all the flights. They helped me carry luggage and car seats on board, helped with Madi, and were all amazing. Again, huge answers to prayers from all those who had been praying for safe transit. We had a tight connection in Oslo (where again SAS screwed up my request for assistance by giving us a wheelchair instead of a cart like I had asked), but we made it to the gate with a little time to spare. Jason was able to meet us at the gate in Frankfurt and it was smooth, but exhausting to arrive in Baku late Thursday evening.

We got through customs and gathered our luggage fairly quickly and were off to our new home! I am so glad that we were able to get on the flights and that Jason was able to meet us in Frankfurt. I was pretty exhausted by that point from the early morning and check-in drama and ready for our family to be reunited! Here are the few pics that I snapped during the travel. All three girls were incredibly well-behaved (love our seasoned travelers). :-)

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