I have had the good fortune to travel fairly widely, but, on the down side have spent an inordinately significant period of my life in airports. Yes, I am the guy that insists on getting there early because I always assume it will take longer than it does. This means I have plenty of time and opportunity to observe, analyze and reflect. Technology has made our world smaller, and air travel has made the expansive geography accessible. While it would have been a pipe dream to go to Europe in the 1700s, today we have multiple flights per day.
You see quite a wide spectrum of emotions, reactions and decisions at the airport. You inevitably run into someone having a bad day, someone overly excited and a broad group of people trying to figure out how to just get through the experience. Within moments you can see the happy-go-lucky family leader become Hitlerian in his or her actions just to get on the flight faster.
I have seen people try to cram luggage the size of a refrigerator with a handle into overhead space, try to “charm/threaten” flight attendants and try to find the optimal way of navigating the idiosyncrasies of airport existence. Frankly, I enjoy it. People are fun to watch and airports have all the drama necessary to keep me entertained.
Given this, I have developed a few rules that should be followed as you travel.
First, give yourself lots of time. Everybody is stressed as they navigate the ticket counter, security, and the gate. Save yourself the heart problems and give yourself more than enough time. Second, check bags. There is nothing worse than having to fight for overhead space and the airlines are great at making sure your bags arrive with you. Third, treat it like an amusement park. The lines are longer than you want, the concessions are more expensive, and time loses all meaning. Fourth, remember that you are in public. Don’t, I repeat, don’t, wear sweatpants/pajama pants and Crocs for the trip. That is never a good look and you should have a little more respect for yourself than that. I know it is comfortable. Just don’t.
Finally, roll with the punches. The airlines don’t want to delay you, because it costs them money. The pilots and flight attendants have less authority than you think, and, as with normal everyday life, a ready smile and polite response goes much further than you think. More than all of this, though, don’t shy away from it because it is unknown. Air travel is still pretty easy and straightforward despite all of the additional security, etc. Plus, you get to see humanity at its most basic form.
Have a great weekend!