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So despite some dodgy weather, we made it to New Orleans! This was as spur of the moment as we get and a very toddler-centric trip so I thought it worth documenting. It also happens to be our first domestic vacation with M that required a flight. And I didn’t have to see snow for a few days. Winning all around.
Planning: The Flights and the Hotel
Booking a last minute flight can have its advantages. Despite (or perhaps because of) booking this flight two days before President’s Day (and, as I would later find out, three days before Mardi Gras), I managed to find three domestic first class seats at sAAver level for 50,000 AA miles each RT. These flights were all on US metal, which would lead to some problems down the road.
We had to pay $75 each for a close in ticketing charge – luckily I hadn’t bought my gift certificates to trigger my AMEX Platinum airline reimbursement credit yet. So I have already had $200 of the $225 in close in ticketing fees refunded. Yay.
For the hotel, I’d been looking for a good way to use our two free nights from our IHG Rewards Club credit cards. We used these two nights at the Intercontinental New Orleans – which was retailing fore $383/night. Not bad for keeping a $49/year annual fee card.
We booked a third night at the same hotel with 50,000 IHG points I had lying around from a cancellation on our Germany trip this past summer. No taxes and fees on top of the redemptions so I’m extremely happy with our hotel accommodations. I also just noticed that the IHG Rewards Club card is one of those Chase cards where you can get the bonus again after 24 months…hmmmmmmm.
Dealing with Delays
I was pretty stressed out about our flights since a storm was rolling in to both Boston and DCA (our connecting city) when we were scheduled to travel. The weather in Boston turned out to be no big deal for once – we took off on time and arrived in DCA on time.
Unfortunately, once we got to DCA we were hit with a two hour delay on our connecting flight – it took two hours for them to de-ice the inbound in Detroit. Wow. It did lead to a semi-amusing exchange at the gate that I witnessed.
After the Detroit flight landed, one of the pilots was talking semi-heatedly with the gate agent. He was like, “We just need 10 minutes!”. Apparently they were doing our flight to New Orleans as well. The pilot walked off huffing and puffing (I had missed the beginning of the exchange). The gate agent turned to his buddy and said, “See, that’s why he ain’t never gonna be mainline.” SICK BURN. Moving on…
Toddlers are Tougher than Infants
Although M was fairly well behaved on both flights, toddlers are definitely a lot tougher than infants. Infants are great – they just sleep, and eat, and sleep, and eat.
M wanted to climb everywhere as usual and rip up every piece of paper in sight. We also had to find her food at DCA (overpriced!) and thanks to the delay she was overtired when we got onto our flight to New Orleans.
She fussed a bit before finally falling asleep on top of Jess – who was then incapacitated for two hours on the flight due to a sleeping toddler. Anyway, this trip definitely justified my decision to pay a little bit extra for a direct flight to CLT for FT4RL2. And we haven’t even taken off for the home leg yet.
Arriving in New Orleans on Mardi Gras
We had the unique experience of landing in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. There were a few memorable situations we encountered while trying to get to the hotel.
First, as we exited the airport, we followed signs to “Taxis and Transportation Center.” Except, I didn’t see any taxis. We ended up in the transportation center which was just an empty parking lot.
So we backtracked, at which point I saw a taxi just kind of idling. I flagged him down and was like “Yo – Intercontinental.” He mumbled something about the police which I didn’t quite catch.
At this point I started unpacking our stupid car seat which we brought for the trip to and from the airport (I’m so torn as to whether we actually should have brought it or not). I’ve got this half installed in the car when this cop comes up and is all, “HEY! WHY ARE YOU PICKING THESE GUYS UP?”
At this point, it registers with me that the taxi driver had said something about cops when he stopped. Apparently he was picking us up illegally, which was a point I didn’t grasp until he was getting into it with the policeman. Umm………so should I take my car seat out now?
I’m like, “OK, sorry officer, but where can we get a taxi?” At which point the officer points me to the taxi stand that is like 50 feet away that I had somehow missed up until this point. Embarrassment city. Anyway the cop shooed the taxi driver away although we saw him cruising for fares from our legit cab five minutes later. Tsk tsk. Anyway, if you’re going to New Orleans and don’t see the taxi stand at first – don’t be like me – look harder.
The Intercontinental had given me special Mardi Gras driving directions which our cabbie ignored. He then proceeded to stop two blocks away from our hotel and point us in the direction that we should walk. Normally, I’d have been totally fine with this, except for the freaking car seat we were dragging in a giant duffel bag. UGH! To his credit, he was super nice about it and didn’t leave until he was absolutely sure I knew where I was going.
We made our way towards the parade route – unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) the parades were all over. We had to pass through a bunch of gates to get to the front door of the Intercontinental – they had staff posted at each gate to let us through.
At some point I stepped into a gigantic brown puddle thanks to being off balance due to a giant duffel bag containing a car seat. I was told that said brown puddle was hot chocolate. Wow. I really hope that was the truth.
It was an eventful trip, but we made it safe and sound (and mostly happy) to New Orleans. I’m kind of sad we missed the parades – but at the same time I’m not sure we would have made it to the hotel if they were still going on. I guess we could have froggered across? We’ll never know…
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