Airport Days

Nov 14th, 2011 | By | Category: Cute, News, Popular, Travel

There is something unique to the experience of rising early for a flight.

It’s not the same as an early start for a motoring journey whether that happens to be from home or a hotel.

View from the airplane

After the airport - the flight

Setting out to get to the airport has peculiar stresses and some pleasures.

If you leave on time it is pleasing, even better if you get away before the appointed departure time you had set. It gives a feeling that you are in control – for a small delay has already been “discounted” in the early time, the extra minutes.

But! Every time there is a slow down, a delay of any sort – could be a queue of traffic longer than expected to access a road at a junction, could be a view of numerous brake lights on the rear of cars in front all coming on one after the other like a series of dominoes, or the sight of a diversion sign – these things are sure to give you the opportunity to enter into a tailspin of despair…at that moment all could be lost, the delay is frustratingly unpredictable and could it be perhaps, that you will eat up those early departure minutes, and the time for the journey and end up running to check in at your flight’s departure gate sweating, still checking that you picked up everything from your car as you flung yourself out of it at the car park and grabbed the items that you knew you had to take?

What about the sunglasses, which you had to keep in the car until the last minute because you might need them – even though you left in the darkness of an oh so early misty morning?

Then there is the relief and joy, car is parked, you are early, but you wait for the bus that circles “every ten minutes” it says, to take you from that far-flung collection of thousands of parked cars, to the departure terminal.

A tweak of concern…have you missed that being-early-window-of-opportunity to get to a check in desk without a line in front of it?

Will crowds swarm in all with problems with their tickets and stand crouching against the ticket counters while the airline employees have to wander off and ask about every single ticket, to check, to clarify, to sort out?

Then you get lucky… the bus comes, there is nobody waiting at any of the other bus stops and you fly (well glide jerkily as these buses do!) to the terminal unimpeded by the needs of another traveler, a family with kids who have to be helped individually onto the bus, while you wait, wait, wait. Off you go!

You get through to the counter and through the check-in process. All is well.

You go to the security line, wondering will this be quick or slow?

Will everyone in front of you have to remove a belt, a pair of boots, a bottle of water, send the body-scanners howling and be asked to walk through again for a re-match?

Or, will it all pass like a rapidly flowing mountain stream running sharply downhill and just keep going, like a Swiss watch?

OK. Well done! You are through! You have only to make a decision whether to look at the shops, make a phone call, have a coffee, a drink or a meal you are there in that magic suspension, the purgatorial space – the departure area.

But then you wait for you have to wait with an eye alert, an ear cocked for announcements about your flight – which gate? ON time? What else?

Have a good flight.

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One Comment to “Airport Days”

  1. Henry Balfour says:

    Lovely piece of writing. So true …. add to this the downside of missing a flight, even while being in the airport, even while standing at the Boarding Gate but being prevented from boarding …. there was a piece written for Esquire some years ago, a very beautiful essay on the loss of Swissair 111 near Nova Scotia. It can make me cry to read it. Google “The Long Fall Of 111 Heavy”.

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