Anyone who has ever flown with me may think I am always on time and dependable and I walk with an itinerary on me at all times. And, to a certain extent, this is true. I like to have the details of my accommodations readily available, as well as flight times and a loose idea of the things I want to see wherever I go. I'm the person who, when others are searching for information, has it ready. I'm organized, meticulous and on time.
Except when I'm traveling alone.
I'm that person. That flustered and sweaty person who's frantically asking someone, anyone, at the front of the line if I can cut because I'm late for my flight.
When I travel alone, something inexplicable happens to me and I become late and a little careless. I habitually arrive later than the recommended time, often cutting it close when it comes to boarding the flight. Part of the reason is that I hate waiting for a long time in airports and ideally like to arrive at the airport, go through security and get on the flight in less than an hour. The other reason I'm often late is that I think I have way more time to make a flight than I actually do. In my head, I have hours but then I get to the airport and it's more like minutes. Next thing I know, I'm rushing to catch my flight. This doesn't happen all the time, but it has happened more times than I care to admit.
The result: I'm that person. That flustered and sweaty person who's frantically asking someone, anyone, at the front of the line if I can cut because I'm late for my flight. I'm that person who's booking it aka sprinting my heart out while trying not to run over any kids or old people (or anyone in general, I suppose), huffing and puffing to my gate so I don't miss my flight and have to deal with the nightmare of rebooking, paying, waiting, etc.
You would think that after going through this huffing and puffing process once, I would learn my lesson and arrive early so as not to be rushed. And yet, I found myself sprinting through the airport not once or twice but three times during my recent trip to Italy and Portugal.
The first was on my flight from Rome to Bari for a friend's wedding. I mistakenly thought leaving my hotel at 5:10 a.m. for a 7:55 a.m. flight would be enough time. Factor in the 32-minute train ride to the airport and the fact that I juuust missed the airport express train and would have to wait an additional 30 minutes for the next one. Next thing I know I'm arriving at the airport at 7:05, with baggage check closing at 7:15 and the gate closing at 7:25. So what did I do? I politely told the person I had been chatting with on the train that I'm not trying to be rude but once those doors open up, I was going to be out of there so fast she would only see dust. And that's what happened. I made it to the baggage check line at 7:12 (after asking the person in the front if I could cut) and made it to the gate by 7:20 (after, once again, cutting the line, this time in security).
I take the quickness for granted when traveling internationally and forget that I can't just go through security and to my gate in less than 10 minutes
It's not something I'm proud of, and at the time I told myself I needed to start arriving at the airport sooner. But then I ended up running to my gate on my flight from Milan to Lisbon (no line cutting this time, just lots of power walking and light jogging) AND my flight from Lisbon back to the U.S. (lots of line cutting and Usain Bolt sprinting took place).
I typically don't have this problem with domestic flights because I get through security fairly quickly (thanks Global Entry/TSA Precheck!) and don't often have to walk too far. But I think this is partly what messes me up. I take the quickness for granted when traveling internationally and forget that I can't just go through security and to my gate in less than 10 minutes when there are things like passport control and long security lines that will take up a significant amount of time.
It was after my sprint through the Lisbon airport when I arrived at the gate, sweaty, stressed and thinking about the seven-hour flight ahead of me in my now drenched shirt, that I realized I need to change my ways. I also overheard a woman talking about a young lady who, like me, did the "please can I cut you, I'm late for my flight" routine with her a few hours earlier. An airport official overheard and told the woman not to let the other woman cut. According to the woman telling the story, the airport official said it's the young lady's fault and she should know to arrive at the airport early. Upon hearing this I ducked my head a little, embarrassed that I was just that person about 10 minutes ago (but also secretly thinking I'm glad I'm not the only one!).
So, I write this post as a confession but also to publicly state that I will not be this person moving forward. I will get to the airport early and give myself plenty of time, and I will not ask people if I can cut the line so I can make my flight.
I will be the same person I am when traveling with others — on time and dependable.
Wish me luck 😬 😬 😬
Also, don't be like me. Get to the airport early!
So, have you ever been guilty of the mad dash through the airport? Please make me feel better and confess below!