Monday, July 6, 2009

Okinawa Hikers & Space A

This is NOT an unusual sight here. As many friends can attest.

This photo was taken on the rocks at Cape Manzamo:

Let's zoom in for the footwear, shall we? (Not that the guy's flip-flops are the best choice, and not that they were in for a day of hiking or anything - but REALLY? THESE!?)I remember seeing many pairs of spiked heels on the Japanese women at Shuri Castle and other attractions here in Okinawa; attractions where a lot of walking, climbing of stairs, and hiking are happening. And comfortable shoes are a must for me on those types of days. Well - whatever. Bless their little vertically-challenged hearts. I guess they want to make their legs look longer.

In other news. I should be gone right now. Yesterday our family of three sat at the space A terminal for a while, hoping to hop to Hawaii. I have to admit - the terminal is nice (tvs, a snack bar with good unhealthy foods, a kids' room with cartoons playing...) and the wait wasn't torturous, we met nice people and such.

For those who don't know the space A game - a quick lesson. You get on a list via paperwork from hubby's (or spouse's) command when you want to take a space-available flight somewhere. For example, we want to go to Hawaii. There are categories of priority (a basic list, there are other people in these categories - full list here):
Category 1: emergency leave/medical or active duty on orders
Category 2: active duty or DoDDS teachers on leave flying alone or with family members (in our case, he is coming WITH us so we're all there together and we're higher priority to fly because he's coming along)
Category 3: family members of an active duty member who is deployed, or active duty people going to house hunt, etc.
Category 4: family members flying without active duty member (would be Mia & me if Craig wasn't joining us)
Category 5: retirees & family members

We were in great shape. Another factor is that Craig has to be on leave to get on the list, the longer you're on the list, the higher priority you get (so if we showed up and some other active duty member just got on leave on July 5th - the fact that we've been on leave since the 28th bodes very well for us - we'd go first if there were enough seats).

So - seats are a factor, priority/category, and flights. The reason you go through this little dance and play the waiting game and potentially not get on? IT IS FREE. A free flight to Hawaii is totally worth a little dancing.

For all of us it's our first time doing this space A thing. SO...we show up, check in, and they announce there's a big plane leaving soon with 35 available seats. WOO HOO! That's a lot of seats. We were hopeful.

They called up an emergency leave family and a family who was ahead of us via category 2, and then they called us! WOW - amazing. We got boarding passes. We ordered meals. We checked our bags. And we went to the gate. This is awesome! Mia was jumping up and down, and I was right there with her! Then it happened. As they were checking in the family in front of us, we hear, "They're not going to Hawaii anymore." WHAT? In the next few minutes we heard everything from "it's flying to Iwakuni [mainland Japan] and on to Elmendorf, Alaska" to "they just don't feel like going to Hawaii" to "it's landing in Iwakuni as the final destination", but the point was... we got our meal money back and our bags off the plane,and realized we just had the biggest tease of our lives.

I've heard of people getting stuck in places, having a crazy circuitous trip around the world to try to get home, or just not getting to fly out at all - but HAVING BOARDING PASSES IN HAND, BAGS ON PLANE AND THEN - POOF - NADA!? That was a first. We went back to the terminal and another flight was called with very few seats and that category two family in front of us got to go. That was pretty heart-breaking too. Then Mia started to cry when I explained we wouldn't be leaving today. I wanted to cry with her, but I didn't. I just explained we'd try again next time. I sure hope it happens for us because we have a great trip planned. It's going to be really hard not to be disappointed if it doesn't.

But by the evening we were watching So You Think You Can Dance (HOORAY, best show ever!) and enjoying dinner with wonderful friends. As Mia kissed me goodnight she said, "Let's hope we get on the next plane, ok, Mama?" Yes, let's.