We’ve all been there before. Up at 5 AM, exhausted. You stand in line at security for what seems like hours. Listening to that annoying pre-recorded message looping over and over again on the loudspeaker. “Don’t leave your bags unattended. Be alert. Some local semi local celebrity says you are a valued customer, welcome to the XXX airport!” You feel like you’re trapped in a bad acid trip or something.
You finally make it through security and get to your gate. It’s packed. All you want to do is sit down in one of those uncomfortable chairs and close your eyes for a few minutes. But there are no empty seats. You take a seat on the floor and rest your head on your bulky backpack, your hardcover book jabbing you in the head while the pre-recorded airport lady lulls you into something resembling sleep.
You wake up a few minutes later and check the departure info screen. Flights delayed because of some weather in New York (you’re in Atlanta…how does that work?)
After two hours of waiting at the gate, your 9 AM flight is ready to board at 11 AM. You’re in the last boarding zone, after people with special circumstances, first class, business class, gold members, silver members, bronze members, regular members, zone 1, zone 2 and zone 3. And pets. And anyone with a pulse except for those of you that bought their tickets off of Kayak with less than 24 hours notice. You finally get on board, and no matter which way you try to jam it in, there is no way your rolly suitcase is coming anywhere close to fitting in that overhead compartment. With defeat in your eyes, you reluctantly hand your poor suitcase over to the flight attendant so it can be checked in the bowels of who knows where, knowing that your suitcase is just as likely to end up in Zimbabwe as Boston.
You arrive for your connection in Charlotte (because Charlotte is on the way from Atlanta to Boston, right?) but the idea of making your connecting flight is a long lost fantasy. You wait in another hour long line to talk to an airline rep, who informs you that they have kindly already put you on the next flight to Boston, which leaves at 9 PM and connects in Cleveland. You should be in Boston by 12:30 AM at the latest. It’s 3 PM now. That was nice of them, but you still have six hours to kill. Dejected, you retreat to the airport bar to spend the last of your money on beer, because beer will make everything better.
Point is, there’s no getting around it, flying sucks sometimes. I had an experience pretty similar to the on above recently, whereby what should’ve been a painless domestic flight turned into an exhausting (and expensive) all day affair. And pretty much everyone who travels with any frequency has their own stories to relate.
It’s all about your attitude though.
It’s tough to remember, but flying is a MIRACLE. The fact that we can buy a ticket for a couple hundred bucks, show up at the airport at 8 AM and be on the other side of the world by the end of the day is absolutely ridiculous!
I always try to get a window seat, even though it’s not as comfortable as the aisle. I still stare out the window during take off and landing and anytime I see pretty lights out the window, like a three year old. It’s so cool! It’s beautiful. It’s wondrous and inspiring and even when your sandwiched between a screaming baby and a large man that forgot to shower, you’re still FLYING! You’re practically a bird.
Yeah, there are some hassles that come along with it, but it’s also pretty crazy to think that in a matter of about 100 years, humans way smarter than I have figured out how to make giant machines soar through the air and transport people very quickly, all over the world.
If you plan on teaching English in Thailand, or Spain, or anywhere else in the world really, odds are you’re going to be spending a good amount of time at the airport and on planes. And things will not always go smoothly. But the next time you feel like screaming your head off or curling up in a fetal position, admitting defeat, and crying in the middle of the airport, just remember how LUCKY you are to be able to participate in the miracle of flight. 200 years ago, getting from Boston to California would’ve taken you like six months, and there’s a very good chance you would have died along the way. So try to relax. I know it’s hard. Have another beer. You’ll get there eventually.