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Vacation in Punta Cana: The flight via Spirit Airlines

These were the cake toppers on our wedding cake and we take them with us on our big trips. Here they are on our Spirit flight to Punta Cana.
These were the cake toppers on our wedding cake and we take them with us on our big trips. Here they are on our Spirit flight to Punta Cana.

Every five years, my husband and I take a big trip together without the kids. There have been little trips here and there for a night or two, but these trips are week-long, no-cell-service and many-many-adult-beverages-consumed sort of trips. If you’ve been with me a while, you’ll remember we did a Norwegian Cruise in 2011. This year, we headed to vacation in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

I’m going to break this trip down into several parts and I’ll add in the links to the categories once they are all posted.

Flight to Punta Cana
Our Room
Flight home from Punta Cana
Things to do
Things I learned
Our day-to-day

So read what you want, skip what you don’t, but know that all of these opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way.

So our flight was on Spirit Airlines. Our early morning flight woke us up at 2:30 a.m. to make it to the airport in time for our 6:30 a.m. flight.

We arrived at the airport park and ride and our shuttle to the terminal was already waiting. We hopped on board and were off. Within a few minutes we were at the ticker counter checking out bag.

“Your bag is 9 pounds over weight,” the agent said.

“That’s impossible I weighed it and we were under the 50 lbs max,” I said.

“The max is 40,” she replied.

40 lbs max? I really should have checked. I swore the last time I flew Spirit is was 50. Did they change that?

We had to make a decision and opted to pay the extra fee for an oversized bag. What choice did we have? The agent was helpful and offered us the opportunity to move things to our carry ons. We probably could have crammed clothes in our carry-ons, but that didn’t seem worth it for $30. The $30 covered the bag from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale and the second leg of flight to Punta Cana. It wasn’t ridiculous so we went for it.

Once our bag was on the conveyor and heading to the plane, we got in the long line for security.

That was the worst wait of all.

I was nervous and I had to stand in line.

“Don’t lock your knees, don’t day dream, stay right here,” I said to myself.

And lo and behold, my months of Cognitive Behavior Training suddenly kicked in. The self-talk and the relaxation techniques I had practiced suddenly held meaning.

I went through real odds.

I used my relaxation breathing.

I told myself I may not like this right now, but it won’t last forever.

I made it through security, but we had time to kill. Without looking at his ticket, my husband trusted me when I said “I think we are at gate D7.”

*Oh, that paragraph there…that was foreshadow.*

We walked the length of the terminal to find out that D7 is in some parallel universe—seriously, there is D6 and D8 but we were unable to find D7. Finally we checked our ticket and we were at D11.

Oops. With time still to kill, he decided to find a sandwich shop he had on his last trip and really enjoyed. So we walked to the opposite end of the terminal and order him a sandwich. We each picked up two drinks for the plane ride and I grabbed a bagel at a shop on our way back to our gate.

I took two Xanax just in case. I mean, it couldn’t hurt.

Out first flight we couldn’t really see out the window. The exit row was set up funny. On the second flight, the one into Punta Cana, it was much easier to see.

We didn’t have to wait too long before we started boarding.

We had an emergency exit row. The extra space was nice, but we didn’t have a window because the emergency door blocked it. I sort of like to see what’s going on.

I immediately got out my tablet and started watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. By the time we were airborne, I was exhausted. I turned off my tablet and took an hour nap. I woke up in time to get most of the way through the movie before we landed. It was the shortest 2 hour and 40 minute flight ever.

The landing was weird. We started coming in, descending and we were lined up. The landing gear was down and suddenly we were going back up.

The pilot came over the speakers and said that due to some aircraft in the area we had to take another attempt. That’s super fun with someone with anxiety who doesn’t particularly enjoy flying.

When we landed in Fort Lauderdale, things got dicey.

We had 45 minutes to get to our next flight. Our bag was being transferred so we didn’t have to worry about that part, but we did have to change terminals to get to the gate.  We had to go past security and outside to another terminal. This was a little hiccup we didn’t consider. We had 45 minutes and we still had to get through security a second time that day.

Oh, and we bought those drinks. We stood at the opening to security for a while and drank our drinks in an attempt not to waste them, and then got in line. And waited, and waited and waited.

Once we were finally through, we made it to the gate just as they were starting to board.

Phew. That was my biggest fear. Without another flight to Punta Cana that day, we would have been left in Fort Lauderdale to wait for the next flight. In fact, we met someone on the flight who had missed this connection the day before and was stranded in Fort Lauderdale overnight, while their luggage went on to Punta Cana. They had to make-do with the little they had for the 24 hours until the next flight.

We got on board and had a bit of a wait on the runway.

Once we took off, it was smooth flying until we were landing in Punta Cana.

It was raining, which gave us our first taste of turbulence the entire trip. It was minor. But we were coming in so fast. We hit the runway and it felt like we had barely slowed down. As we sped down the runway, I just hoped we didn’t have to use those crash pads that Mike Pence’s plane had to use recently.

Punta Cana is an open air airport with no jetways. So, it was pouring rain and we had to get off the plane on the tarmac and run to a bus. We were then shuttled to the airport building, which has no air conditioning. It got hot really quickly.

We stood in line to get “tourist cards.” Sure. Then we waited to get through immigration. That was no big deal. We got our bags, walked out of the airport and met up with our private shuttle to the resort.  My advice? Arrange the shuttle in advance. Pay for the private shuttle if you have to. It eases confusion and exhaustion after a long day of traveling.

My husband and I get ragged on constantly for our use of budget airlines. In January, we flew to Fort Meyers aboard Frontier Airlines and it was great. I mean, it’s a few hours on a plane. I can tough it out. Plus no comfy seat and no checked bag fee waiver is going to take away my anxiety. It’s just the mode of transportation. I’ve flown Spirit many times and have no complaints. This flight was no different. I mean, I even took a nap.

Spirit got us there in one piece, on one day (unlike every other airline), on time and with courtesy. I’d definitely take that flight again!

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