It’s Monday morning and I’m finally heading back to Omaha for a couple days!  Louisville to Detroit then off to Omaha I go.  On this beautiful Monday morning where everyone except myself is acting like they have ‘the case of the Mondays’ I have decided it is the PERFECT OPPORTUNITY to explain one of the worlds simplest things: How to walk through an airport terminal.

Now this might sound simple to most, but anyone who has ever been to an airport knows that people instantly forget how to do anything correct as soon as they step in the airport.  I have included stories of what not to do as well as the solution.  Of course all of the stories are true, half of them have already happened this morning!  Let us begin.

1. Moving Walkways: These things are genius.  Definitely created by an American because we would hate to spend the extra 15 seconds it takes to walk through the terminal without one.  These should be one of the EASIEST THINGS to understand because there is always a sign that says “Walk on the left, stand on the right.” followed by a magical voice that announces the same thing.  Unfortunately, most people do not understand this.  They stand side by side like two semi trucks slowly moving down the interstate.  MOVE, Get out the way!

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2.  Walking from Gate to Gate: Airport Terminals are kind of like miniature interstate systems in a major metropolitan area.  Well, unless you’re flying through a regional airport, then it’s like you’re in a small farm town in the middle of the Heartland (The middle of Nebraska for example, not Omaha…  We are about to hit 1,000,000 people in 15 years.  We are BIG TIME) Anyway..  When you are traveling through the airport, stick to the right hand side of the hallway, just like when you’re driving on the roads in the U.S.  (Right Hand Traffic)  Walking on the opposite side of hallway is like driving down the wrong side of the interstate, it’s not smart! (Go home Suzie, you drunk!)  If you find yourself walking against the traffic and running into countless individuals, chances are you are on the wrong side of the terminal.  Do yourself a favor and ‘merge’ into the correct lane of traffic.  Everyone will thank you.  Especially the inexperienced traveler who only has 40 minutes to catch his connection but thinks running through the airport with his three carry ons, 20 boarding pass copies and flippy floppies is the only way to make it to the gate in time before departure.

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3.  Airport turn lanes and using your turn signal:  There is no such thing.  You won’t see them so don’t look.  Every once and a while the Terminal B Starbucks just happens to be on the opposite side of the hall way and you need to find a way to get there.  Most people come to a halt, get the apologetic look on their face knowing they are going to cause havoc crossing into incoming traffic and then breath a sigh of relief when they get in line for their Venti Double Chocolate Chip Frap with an extra dollop of whip cream.  The best way to avoid this is to continue walking straight ahead until you find a gap, make a quick U-Turn into the proper lane get into the exit lane and find yourself right where you belong at the back of a line 30 people deep.

4. Airport Reunions: Every once and a while you are bound to run into someone you know.  Chances are they are walking the opposite direction and have hours to burn and want to catch up on every moment of your life.  We’ve all seen it.  The Youth Group of 20 that runs into their friend that recently went to college.  They run into each other and INSTANTLY STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE HALL WAY!!!!  Let’s think about this a different way.  You are driving down the interstate and see a bus coming the opposite direction full of high school kids on their way to a week at camp.  You would NEVER slam on the breaks and have small talk in the middle of the road, would you?  Same here!  Make your U-Turn to join your friends, hop in the exit row and find a gate with plenty of room for all of you to talk.

5.  The Gate Experience:  People LOVE attempting to be the first person to board the plane.  Especially people that do not understand how the airlines boarding system.  This always causes the worst traffic jams in the airport.  I would go as far as comparing it to the traffic jams we saw in Will Smiths famous movie, ‘Independence Day’ when everyone was attempting to flee the city.  People will stand in front of the gate, then more and more people join behind and keep building up until most of the hallway is blocked off.  This isn’t good for anyone.  Especially those who are trying to get passed the Armageddon sized traffic jam.  Look below for a couple tips:

Tip 1: If you are not 80 years old or older, need a wheel chair to board the plane, have children under the age of two, flying first class, have the little thing on your ticket that says ‘Priority boarding’, or have the airlines credit card that allows you early access to the plane do yourself and everyone else a favor and sit your sweet behind in a chair! The plane isn’t leaving you and there should be no rush to board the plane faster than needed.

Tip 2: If you are flying Southwest Airlines the work is done for you.  Your boarding Letter and Number are listed right on your ticket.  If you are not in the ‘A’ Boarding group, sit your butt down until they tell you to line up for B or C.  I’m amazed every time I fly.  They gate agent practically spoon feeds you how to board.  “If you are in group A please line up at this time.  Don’t be shy, ask others what boarding number they are and get in line where you belong. If you are in Boarding Group B or C please sit down until A is boarded.”  How much easier can it get?  Yet we still find the guy who is number C59 trying to board the plane right behind A15.  Yes, everyone is glaring at you sir.  Sit back down. *Check in begins 24 hours before your flight boards.  Download the app and make sure you check in at this time to get a good boarding number.  If you are horrible at remembering this, pay the extra $15 for Early Bird check in and it’s done for you.  Boarding Group C should be changed to Boarding Group STBU YGTBSITMS (For those that didn’t catch on that would be Sucks To Be You, You’re Going To Be Stuck In The Middle Seat)

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6. Boarding The Plane:  Ahhhh we are finally there.  Once you step on the plane it’s best that you find your seat as fast as possible, get out of the aisle so people can pass, place your large carry on above and sit down in your seat.  Many people these days decide that they should take their sweet time slowly walking down the aisle, waving at people that they barely know like Ms. America on the parade route.  Then they stand in the middle of the aisle going through their bag to find their cell phone charger, their ham and cheese sandwich, their much needed neck pillow for the 40 minute flight from Louisville to Detroit (Dealing with that as we speak) and then they finally notice that they have been holding up the line so they apologize, stand there for a few more seconds and finally sit down.

In conclusion, by following these simple rules the airport experience will be a bazillion times better for you as well as everyone around you.  Also, if your seat mate is one of those people that loves staring at your screen the whole entire flight while you are typing, make sure to exaggerate some things about him.  (Yes, my seat mate does have a neck pillow he spent a couple minutes finding, but he did not bring a  ham and cheese sandwich on board with him.  He just asked if I was talking about him in my blog….. Mind ya own business, bro!)

-Andrew Dean

The Costumed Traveler

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