Now Boarding

By Carole Lee

In my perfect world, airports would arrange all gates for each airline in a central area. I’ve never known why I exit Delta and then have to pass United, Delta (again), three fledgling airlines and American to finally reach my Delta connection. I’ve determined that the distance between my gates is directly influenced by a few factors:

Is it earlier than 5 a.m.?
Have I had any coffee?
Am I using the same carry-on that’s had a broken wheel for three years?
Is the escalator or people mover I need broken?
Am I connecting at LAX or Charlotte?

If it's earlier than 5 a.m., I am sleepwalking through the airport with a scary case of bed-head to begin with. No flight should ever leave before 5 a.m. The very idea that I would be tracking down a connection that early means my Priceline Negotiator is working for the other team.

If I haven’t had any coffee, every Starbuck’s and burnt coffee pot at Airport Burgers R Us is a distraction, slowing me down. Deliberately walking past coffee retailers when my blood-caffeine level is sitting at zero is as vexing as walking through Disney World with my socks bunched up inside my shoes.

If my carry-on is broken, the Gods of the Friendly Skies are clearly up there sipping Mocha Lattes and placing bets on how many times the little rolley case will flip over as I drag it through concourse after concourse. They’re also laughing at my bed-head.

If accessing the next gate requires the use of an escalator or people mover that’s broken, its time for a good cry. But not yet. There is coffee to be had on the next flight. Well, it looks like coffee. Kinda.

If all of this is happening at LAX or Charlotte, I’m approaching meltdown. I am not, however, getting any closer to the gate in the next half hour. I may also require therapy later. Might as well throw in a blister on my left heel just to make it a good time.

Flying used to be fun. I’d show up early to watch other flights arrive and depart. Flight attendants would hand out whole cans of Coke to passengers and smile while they did it!

These days, I arrive at the airport early in order to set aside enough time for my free TSA physical. If I want a full drink, I’ll be handing over $4 to a vendor for an undersize bottle of Pepsi, but only if I have time between flights.

I don’t know what happened to the fun days of flying. Maybe post 9-11 really is the culprit. Or maybe I am just old and grumpy. I think airlines should be more like AAA. With each boarding pass, travelers should receive a map of the next airport with their concourse route and all coffee retailers along the way highlighted in yellow. Until that becomes a reality, I’ll keep trying to book flights at reasonable hours, I’ll have coffee on the way to the airport and I will not ever connect through LAX or Charlotte again if I can help it.

I should also buy a new carry-on, but that’s shooting kinda high.

Carol Lee is a caffeine-fueled writer, fiercely-protective mom, blissfully-devoted wife, formidable wielder of power tools and rabid legal research whiz who thinks everyone should strive for a little more music and hedonism in their lives. Stop by and enjoy a cup of crazy at her blogs, Irrational Propensity and Irrational Propensity Renovations where she babbles about writing, gardening, cooking (as a sport!), renovating her 121-year-old folk Victorian farmhouse, her two mal-adjusted dogs and finding her way as a stranger in this strange land called life.


  1. Ah yes, the joys of having 18 minutes until your connecting flight, which is . . . 73 gates away. I developed a glare and stiff-arm maneuver worthy of an NFL wide receiver in those days of professional traveling.


    1. Ha! That reminds me of the old O.J. Simpson commercials for somethingorother where he's leaping over seats and darting through crowds at an airport. I think it was an airport. He did leap, though. I am sure of it! = )

  2. Love the Priceline gag. This would be funny except that it's painfully true. . .Okay, it's also funny.


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