Freedom of Flight

True freedom is mastering the airport. Once you do that anything is possible. The sky really is the limit. You’re no longer constrained by where you can get to within driving distance. You don’t have to set aside huge blocks of time for hours of muddling along endless stretches of highway. You’re free to go where you please and arrive in time for dinner. Facing your fears of enormous aircrafts thousands of feet in the sky is one of the most liberating things you will ever do. 

Of course, if you’re scrambling to your gate as the flight crew sends out the last boarding call, it may also be one of the most stressful things you ever do. There is no need for this. Be kind to yourself and leave plenty of time. In my experience, the number one best thing you can do when flying is to make a day of it. I tend to operate under the mentality that if I’m not early, I’m late. When it comes to air travel I always plan to arrive at the airport no less than two hours before my scheduled departure, although I’m perfectly happy to hit the road even sooner if I’m packed and ready to go. I have absolutely no problem with sitting in the terminal for three hours. Where better to enjoy some heart-warming people watching? 

Once through security I find my gate and double check my flight status for my own peace of mind before meandering through the food court to find a bite to eat, preferably one that is accompanied by a nice steaming vanilla latte. I’ll find a quiet corner or window nook to enjoy my meal and call my mom to let her know I arrived safely to the airport. I’ll also note any restrooms or snack shops on my way. I return to these shortly before my flight begins boarding to grab some grub and fluids for the plane. I can be migraine prone on travel days and it never hurts to have extra munchies and water in my carry on in addition to my usual Excedrin.

Don’t be afraid to leisurely stroll about the terminal if you have some time to kill. Chances are you’ll be sitting for quite a while so you might want to stretch your legs. When the flight calls to begin boarding don’t be in a hurry to be the first one in line even though others will be. You already have a ticket and are standing by at the gate, listening intently for your boarding group. Even if you let a couple people cut in front of you, it ultimately won’t make much of a difference and rushing to the front of the line to claim your spot is sure to kill the relaxed, easy-going attitude you’ve maintained up to this point. Again, flying doesn’t have to be stressful. Don’t let the impatience of other people negate your good vibes even a little bit.

Throughout the day always be sure to say please and thank you to all shuttle drivers, security guards, shop clerks, cafe baristas and of course your lovely flight crew. People are generally happy to help and to answer any questions. If you set out with hours to spare there’s very little that can ruin your day, whether it be a traffic jam or a few oblivious fellow airport pedestrians. You have time. Just relax and enjoy the ride.


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