For those who are familiar with flying one way, it is nearly impossible to buy a one way ticket for half the price of a round trip. Usually you pay almost as much as a round trip ticket. We needed to buy four plane tickets since Oliver and Elora are old enough to need their own seat on the plane. Sigh. So we figured it would probably cost us about $4000 to fly home.
BUT we got lucky and found out that Air Berlin flies to Florida for cheap during the winter. We ended up getting home to Arizona for about $1600. It sounded like a great deal... but we had four different flights and it took us 29 hours to get home. Wow...
We knew that we would have to pay for our bags if we checked them on our flight in the states, so we tried to pack in only carry-on luggage. We had a duffle bag, two car seats, a stroller, the kids each had backpacks, we both had backpacks, plus a purse, and another smaller bag. Plus it was freezing in Vienna, so we had to cart around all our heavy coats, even though once we got to America it was warm weather everywhere we flew!
Air Berlin is supposed to be a budget airline, but it is GREAT! They actually feed you meals, even on short flights, and they gave our kids great toys. They got these little metal pencil boxes, with colored pencils, coloring books, a memory game, and little lanyards with junior pilot licenses in them. On our other flight they got cute little bags with coloring books and pencils. And they gave me free baby food. And a big bottle of water for everyone. Plus drink service like 6 times. Love it.
When we got to Florida, there were Drinking Fountains! There are no drinking fountains in European airports, so this was amazing. And the water was cold. Europeans also seem to have an aversion to cold water. We were so excited to drink cold water for free!
We flew into Fort Meyers, Florida and we will now always travel through that airport when going international. There were only five Americans coming through customs, and once we got through the tourist information booth flagged us down to give our kids coloring books and crayons. Everyone who worked there was happy and friendly.
We had to go back through security to get on our next flight. The TSA people were super nice (!?!?!?) We had all the aforementioned luggage that takes us forever to arrange through the security scanner. We forgot to dump out our water bottle... They said, "Oh! Water for the kids? Okay, we will just test it real quick." and then "Oh! Your bag is ripped, would you like us to tape that for you?" and then "Oh! You have lots of stuff, let me help you carry it over to this table." and then "Oh! Would you like a luggage cart? Let me get you one and then you can just leave it on the gate." At which point we thought, "Are we in the Twilight Zone? Friendly TSA people? This is amazing!"
Marion was just our happy little baby, and did really well considering we kept interrupting her sleep. We were so happy that she travels well and didn't ever cry! Here she is in Florida, her first time in America!
On the flight from Florida to Atlanta the kids went to sleep. Then they stayed asleep for our whole layover. Aren't they sweet? They were super good, I am totally amazed. They slept through the next flight too. The hardest part was carrying sleeping kids on and off planes. Luckily the flight attendants helped us with our baggage. It was a surprisingly easy trip (despite the length of it!) and we are definately happy that it is over and that we can just enjoy hanging out with family for the next couple months. I didn't realize how much I have missed America until we got to Florida and someone said, "Welcome home". Hello America! We are glad to be home again.