Airports are fun

The following post was written onboard a flight a few weeks ago.

You can attribute any typos in this post to my shaky ride through the turbulence high above the Pennsylvania countryside. I’m just returning after a long trip that ended in Philadelphia for the first-ever WordCamp US.

Airports are Fun-003
Excersize is cut short by moving sidewalks at the Philadelphia airport.

My original flight was scheduled to leave at 1:45pm to Phoenix, where I would layover and then catch a second flight to Tucson. Just before boarding, the gate agents announced that they would be offering a $500 voucher and a later journey for anyone willing to give up their seat on the flight. I’ve been given this offer a few times, but usually I’m rearing to get home or on a deadline. Today, however, I was in no rush and immediately jumped at the opportunity. Now I’m still getting home on the same day, but I’ll take the shuttle from Phoenix to Tucson instead of flying and I have an extra $500 to spend on a flight within the next year (the catch is that I have to buy the ticket at the American Airlines desk inside an airport).

Henceforth, instead of leaving at 1:45pm I left at 6:10pm and had the rest of the afternoon to wait in the airport. Years ago this would have been quite a deal: free WiFi was basically non-existent (it wouldn’t have mattered much because I didn’t have a smartphone and I didn’t carry around my laptop – I couldn’t easily carry it around and its battery didn’t last very long); I didn’t have much flexibility in my travel so I was always rushed in the airport (travel time was wasted time); I didn’t have much real experience at airports.

Airports are Fun-004
Artists make otherwise unremarkable infrastructure creative at the Philadelphia airport.

As times have changed, I’ve grown to enjoy the airport more and more. Today I sat around at a sit-stand shelf at Starbucks and worked on my laptop while planes taxied behind the floor-to-ceiling windows. After a while a small band setup next to the Christmas trees, Menorahs, and lights and started playing smooth Jazz. Like my last layover in San Francisco, it was simply a peaceful time. Despite the rush and chaos, I had the most focused work session I think I’ve had in three weeks.

I’ve come to learn that although airports can seem pretty scary and unfamiliar, they are a warm home to frequent travelers. They’re clean, safe, and have just about everything you could need. I’ve spent time alone in airport yoga rooms and prayer rooms, washed my face and put on a refreshingly clean change of chothes in the bathroom, stared out the windows at things passing by, and sipped plenty a capuccino while calmly working at the gates.

We don’t always have the luxury of time and flexibility, but we always have the choice of how to make use of our circumstances. Travel was always hectic growing up and coincidentally was never considered part of our vacation or part of our journey. Mandi and I have always tried to make the ride special: by stopping in the middle of a long drive to go hiking; by trying to walk around the entire airport during a layover; or simply by finding a place to get comfortable and work.

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