I love the heart pounding, adrenaline rush of leaving things to the last possible second. Of making a save right before the buzzer. Of rushing to your gate with literally less than a minute to boarding.
I am no novice to this travel gig. I have been doing this for a year or two. I have it down to a science exactly what time I need to leave my house and make it to my gate with 15 min or so to spare. Sometimes, if all the stars align, I even have a 30-minute buffer. I don’t like to give myself too much extra time. I already spend enough time in airports as it is.
Yesterday, all the stars most definitely did not align.
It all started with traffic, as does every good story.
For no reason that was readily apparent to my limited view of Colorado life, there was a sudden influx of cars that decided to travel between my house and the airport. It wasn’t a holiday. There was no big event going on in between, that I am aware of. No celebrity was standing on the side of the road signing autographs. So I’m not sure what led to this influx of vehicles. I even go the “back way” to try to avoid these vehicles. But evidently, yesterday so did everyone else.
The downside to the back way? It is very difficult to get around those folks who have not figured out what the long, skinny pedal does.
So I found myself stuck behind a long line of such folks.
Eventually, I made it to my off site parking spot, where they know me by name. Who needs a bar stool?
The shuttle stars were out of wack too, and there was an unusual wait for the shuttle to transport us to the airport. Of course.
This gave me a chance to spend some time with a precocious little 6-year-old. She informed me that she has already visited 26 states. And that she had just returned from one trip. But not on a plane. And was now traveling to San Diego. This time on a plane. And that, having 2 brothers, she was the only princess in her family. Naturally. Trust me. I took notes. Being such an experienced traveler, she had a lot I could learn to become a better traveler myself. But I was more interested in the tips on being a princess.
I did not, however, take tips from her parents on packing lite. I thought I was a hefty packer. At 9 bags (not counting car seats and strollers) they had me beat by a long shot.
The stars that were the most out of line yesterday? The beloved TSA Security.
I pay for TSA Pre-Check. Partly because I enjoy feeling like I’m in a VIP club. But mostly because I enjoy the shorter lines and the expedited experience. It’s not even about not having to remove my shoes. I regularly wear heels, so I still have to remove them. The x-ray machines are evidently biased against the steel rods in women’s heels.
But I digress.
I did not enjoy a shorter line or an expedited experience yesterday. I suspected there might be trouble when the end of the Pre-Check line was around the corner from the entrance. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw people in the regular security line getting through security faster than those of us in the expedited Pre-Check club. Yes, those regular people who have to remove their shoes, laptops and liquids were speeding through faster than us VIPs. Something was very wrong with this picture.
20 minutes later, and with slightly more than 5 minutes until boarding, I was standing in line waiting for the train to the terminals.
And waiting. And waiting. Was anything running on schedule today?
Not the train.
4 min and counting. And 3 terminal stops to go.
I finally exit the train exactly at boarding time and get stuck in the slow flow of folks funneling up the escalator.
For those of you wondering why boarding time is such a central part of my story, as opposed to the time they close the boarding doors, I have one word for you.
I love Southwest airlines. I fly them all the time. I am part of their VIP club.
But to fly Southwest airlines makes boarding position very important. If I was late by even a minute I could lose my coveted A17 spot.
Thankfully, I did not lose my spot. Or my front of the plane aisle seat. I walked up to the gate as the last pre-board passenger was being wheeled onto the plane.
I did have to forgo my liter bottle of water and any lunch though. At least it was only a 2 hour flight so it was very unlikely I would die from starvation or dehydration.
The one thing that happened to run on time yesterday, oddly enough, was the flight.
Where’s a good delay when you actually need one??