I found myself at a tiny airport. 5 gates, at least one permanently abandoned.
I arrived, expecting to leave in a little under an hour and a half, my maximum enjoyment of any airport. When I visited the kiosk, I realized I would not be leaving the airport until much later. So I walked over to the woman a few feet away, assuming she could offer some help.
At the help desk, so ironically named, the woman searched for a full five minutes until she smiled proudly. “We don’t run the 12:15 on Sundays, dear.” (I was in the South.)
I furrowed my brow, perplexed by her enthusiasm. “Then why would I have a flight booked for that time?” I astutely pondered aloud.
She assured me I had received an email in May about my flight change. I assured her I had not. I didn’t buy the ticket. She replied, “Well, we emailed email@example.com. ” I asked her if that sounded like a real email address. She shrugged. Eventually, we began searching for an earlier flight. I was moved to a new airline, two stations down. My itinerary was printed. She sent me to see the other lady.
I checked in with her and asked if they had an earlier flight. She said yes, but since the woman two stations down had just booked my flight, it would now cost $75 to change it. I cocked my head the side. “The woman that’s right next to you? She just booked the flight. Can’t she, or you, just change it?”
“They have limited access on her computer, ” she replied apologetically.
“But she’s right there,” I said.
After finally establishing that the help desk people were just there to watch over the computers, we discovered it wouldn’t matter since there were no earlier connections.
For five hours I sat around. When I tried to go to the bathroom, it was closed for cleaning, so I went to the one snack counter. It was also closed. I soon discovered why. The woman who ran the snack counter also cleaned the bathroom. I stuck to prepackaged goods. Preservatives seemed like a good option.
When it was finally time to board, I thought the announcer should really be trained in auctioneering. They seem to strive the maximum amount of words to the fewest possible boarders. First the premium platinum members, then the premium gold members, the valued members, the soon-to-be valued members. They all use the special lane, separated by a chord of black, keeping the average, inferior travelers far from them. Even though the average traveler is sitting around bored, wondering if they should go get dinner while everyone else boards. Eventually the announcer got to the people who need extra time – people with children and the elderly. Then zone 1. She waits for silence and no movement. Then zone 2. Don’t forget if you’re a special member, board right away! Use your special lane! Zone 3. Then, zone 4. I entered.
I was stalled immediately because a man was fiddling with his briefcase trying to remove his laptop while he blocked the aisle and maintained an impressive unawareness of himself. I can’t help but wonder if these hold-ups could be avoided if we simply boarded the plane back-to-front instead of by the airline caste system. But then upon landing, we exited front-to-back at colossal sloth pace. I realized my scheming was in vain. The plane aisle is doomed to be a path best suited for tortoises.
I exited in Portland, Maine. The only airport I know with enough guts to have a sign that says “welcome home”. Except this time, I was in a new terminal. There was no welcome, just the familiar stale and stalling air of an airport.
I missed my son during my travels. He reminds of the glitz and excitement of travel. Without him, I was only left to wonder at the absence of common sense when it comes to all things related to air travel.