Why “arrive 1 hour before departure” is not just a suggestion

Do you arrive an hour early for a flight?

My husband had a business trip last week and encountered a few mishaps upon arriving at the airport. I asked him to share his tale. (It should be noted that I firmly believe in arriving at the airport an hour before departure for this very reason.)

Do you arrive an hour early for a flight?

Per the norm, I arrived at the RDU airport with not much time to spare, but enough…around 35 minutes before my 6:00 a.m. departure. It’s Wednesday, it’s early, it’s RDU…so I’m still relaxed. Forgetting to print my boarding pass yesterday, I saunter indifferently to the AA kiosk to conquer this formality. I’m tired. As I stroll my subconscious notices a big group here, a baseball team there, more people here, more people there, more people, MORE PEOPLE, MORE PEOPLE; but I don’t care, there’s time for conjecture later when I’m awake and a bit less selfish. At this moment I just want to go through the motions and be on my way. Who cares about all these other people anyway? They could all get synchronized diarrhea and fight to the death over who gets to use the last lobby trash can for all I care…I gots my own biz to deal wit.

My indifference screeches to a sudden halt when I see the line is 40 somber souls deep.  Come on people I don’t have time for this! Luckily I notice the line is for dealing directly with an agent just as the whispers of F-bombs began to tickle my tongue. The F-bombs quickly dissolve into a sly smirk. Sucks for you, losers. Five minutes tick by and I get a kiosk.

“Traveler not found…go to your airline.” Go to my airline…what?? I get out of line and re-check my itinerary on my phone. Wednesday the 27th – CHECK. 6:00 a.m. – CHECK.  American Airlines – CHECK. WTF-F-F-F!! Reality slowly starts to set in…the mutha effing proverbial clock is ticking and I’m standing here in the middle of take your friends, family, neighbors, your damn dog and the local baseball team to the airport day! This is NOT a part of my 35 minute plan people! My head starts to spin like an angry merry-go-round bursting with fruitless thoughts…I’m going to miss my plane, why is it so crowded at 5:40 a.m., maybe I can catch a later flight, my left shoe is a bit tight, are my toes sweaty, how did that lady beside me let herself get so gross, why is everyone so unattractive…I hate all of you!

I get back in line and irrationally check the AA website again while I wait for another kiosk…tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. My hatred for mankind grows exponentially with the passage of each tick and more so with every tock. I telepathically scream and berate the guy in front of me because this is all obviously his fault. It works and it’s my turn at the kiosk…again. Deep down I know this is not going to work so in a fanatical last grasp I check my calendar. Son-of-a-bitch! USAir? But I checked my itinerary on AA? Wait, did AA just buy USAir? USAir sucks, why would they buy them? I think my toes really are sweaty. Damn you corporate mergers…tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

No longer feeling the effects of sleep deprivation I rush with determination, urgency, and irritation to the USAir kiosk. This time the setting of the theme park packed terminal starts to weigh on me like a cumbersome bag filled with second guesses.

Credit card in…flight found…boarding pass printed…VICTORY IS MINE Bitches!

Now it’s time to wade through security with everyone I now so despise. The line is long but doesn’t yet spill beyond the entrance. Providing solace and comfort I hold my boarding pass close like a child with a blanky. Within moments the warm coziness is ripped from my heart when I realize there is only one line and it wraps back and forth just like the malevolent mazes on your favorite rides at Disney. I eye scold everyone I pass. Then again as we wrap around like cattle aimlessly waiting for slaughter. Then again, and again, and again. It’s well after 6:00 when I make it through. I rush to my gate with hopeful resolve and let out a sigh of relief when I see five people still in line waiting to board.  As I wait, I yawn and reflect on the events of the morning and conclude that next time I can probably hit snooze at least one more time.

Lesson learned.

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