Sep 10, 2013

Hurry Up and Wait


The thing about traveling, especially by air, is dealing with the hurry up and wait. Most complain about it, dread it. Frankly, I make good use of it. I play. I take photos, I explore airports (especially those with moving sidewalks and terminal trains). I count the number of coffee shops and bookstores. And probably my most favorite, I watch people.

New or once-in-awhile travelers don't realize that there can be delays that last hours on end or even all night. Most freak out. I've watched I don't know how many go through fits. Many tend to travel on the busiest travel days, where the littlest thing can really cause delays.  If I can afford to take extra time, I tend to stand back and allow those travelers get in the customer service line ahead of me so they can get a seat ahead of me. It benefits me in the long run. I'll end up with travel credit or extra frequent flyer miles, but it does seem silly for them to freak out.

Sometimes I'll strike up a conversation with them. "Are you going on vacation?" Many answer yes and then add and "it's starting off badly!" I smile and usually reply, "Wow, if this is worse than working, I want your job!" Well 99% of the time that breaks them out of their grump and they smile, laugh or decide that maybe it isn't THAT bad a start. Hey, after all, the travel gods have to ease you in and out of that vacation.

Traveling sure isn't like it used to be however. Back in the day, everyone dressed to the nines and didn't have to go through such security measures. You just stood in line to get a handwritten boarding pass and get on the plane. Overhead bins didn't have doors, airlines served full meals and even gave you a choice by showing you a menu. Checking your luggage was free. Of course, when you played solitaire, you did so with a deck of cards and not on a computer or iPad.

Today, you have to suffer the lines at security and pay to check that bag, but you have more flights than 40 years ago, fancy gadgets to help you pass the time, you can bring food onto the flights (International flights still feed you for free though). Suitcases have wheels! Overhead bins have doors and noise cancelling headphones are great for dimming the sounds of screeching children and engine noise. And you still get there faster than if you drove. Clouds do have silver linings.

So remember when you next travel, delays aren't aggravations, they are your chance for adventure.