Last week was the first week in a while that I needed to travel somewhere for work. I’ve not been on the road since I got back from Brazil (I’m not counting my 18hr stay in London earlier this month), and it sure has been nice. I was looking at travel through the eyes of a rested employee jumping back into the body of a road warrior. Do you ever have a moment where you approach a routine situation, when all the sudden you notice things that you are sure have been there all along but your conscious mind never really paid attention to it?
I was at DFW last Thursday morning standing around gate B11 between the Skylink terminal and Starbucks when I noticed that there were some gate changes going on. This is around the time last week when the big snow storm was dumping lots of frozen precipitation across the mid-west. Apparently the gate that I was at was supposed to be a flight to Cedar Rapids, but now they were going out of B6 (or somewhere close).
I started seeing a stream of travelers make their way to our gate agent looking for their flight (even though the big flight board is right behind them, and the monitors at the gate were also announcing the change). I enjoy passing the time in airports doing something that many do, people watch. I started looking on to the exchanges between passengers and agents, and really began to get confused.
Why do you get so upset when you have to walk down 5 gates from your last known departure gate? It’s hard to understand even if you were in another terminal at DFW. You just jump on Skylink and you can be at your new gate in 15 minutes flat. Last I checked, the gate agents for American Airlines could not control the weather, air traffic control, ground control, gate assignments, maintenance issues, the gout, or even that special little free upgrade that sometimes we used to be able to get. You know, the one for being a polite little gentleman?
Yet, you travelers were bitching at the agents like it was their fault that you had to haul your rotund physique another six whole gates, just to get on a plane that was probably delayed anyway due to things outside their control. Why waste your energy? Based on my keen sense of observation, you probably could use the extra walk, if you know what I mean.
Maybe air travel is just not for you. Maybe you should drive (Thank you BNL) instead! I bet you’d be super happy with the impassable roadways, the traffic, the road rage, or the uncomfortable eye contact you make in a small town gas station when looking for the bathroom. Maybe you like all the sitting, the fast food, the endless supply of static on the radio, and the lost time.
Sure, air travel is not what it used to be. The smart thing to do is learn the new rules, and find ways to win and be efficient and happy inside them. I know most of us have, even with the tiny lotion, toothpaste, and contact solution bottles we now must carry through security in a separate, quart-sized Ziploc bag.
The stupid thing to do is bitch about it and subsequently take what little pleasure we have left in air travel away. Or, do what I witnessed in the First Class security line in Chicago O’Hare last December. A lady was getting her bags ready (begrudgingly) for scanning as her husband was cleared through the metal detector. She had three gallon size Ziploc bags FULL of liquid cosmetics (STUPID). A quick count revealed over 50 distinct items inside those three bags (STUPIDER). Why did I do a quick count? She was blocking the line. She just sat there staring at her cosmetics on the table, while her husband is trying to tell her to just go check her bag from the other side of the checkpoint (STUPIDEST). I know if she was my wife, she would have read the notices so she would have been able to get through security, AND get her cosmetics to her destination. I wanted to go tell the husband to go to the Chili’s around the corner and have a big Bloody Mary. Based on the lightning speed she was moving at (frozen in her tracks in a mad daze) he would have some time to think about his life a bit.
But back to you bitchy travelers.
A simple study in economics will tell you that if you pay $120 for a round trip ticket on a $20 million dollar airplane for an 800 mile trip with aviation fuel through the roof, you are going to make sacrifices. Isn’t that the business model of some of the smaller regional airlines anyway? Or even larger ones like SouthWest?
So please, bitchy traveler, do us all a favor. Either zonk out on Xanax or suck it up and put a smile on your face like the rest of us so we don’t have to put up with your usual bitchiness. In the big scheme of things, moving a few gates is meaningless. It’s just a minor annoyance that you will have to put up with as you bitch about how high airfares are, and gas, and the coffee at the airport Starbucks, and how those baristas are not authentic Starbucks baristas, but employees of HMS Host instead, and how they never get your drink right, and how the muffins are not like the ones you get at YOUR Starbucks.
Maybe you can channel all that energy into performing a selfless charitable act.
Or a treadmill.
Joe Frequent Traveler