There are two types of travelers in this world, those that get to the airport early and those that arrive minutes, if not seconds, before final boarding. I am far from the latter type of traveler. Around three hours to my flight, I start to develop this anxiety. The clock becomes some sort of captivating TV show to me. I can’t take my eyes off of it, prodding whoever is my airport driver that day to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. At two hours to my flight, I better at least be in a car shortly away from the airport. My anxiety doesn’t end there. After saying my goodbyes, I quickly dart inside, forever fearful the security line is out the door and I’ll miss my flight that is over an hour away. After I walk past whatever scanner they are using these days, I gather my belongings and note the time. I still have an hour to get to my gate. The anxiety is gone. I know I will be traveling that day.
Then, there are those other travelers. They leave for the airport an hour before the plane departs. They casually act like it is no big deal. They arrive around 30 minutes to flight time. They aren’t anxious for they do this all the time. They walk into it with the mindset, “well if I miss my flight, I miss my flight.” They are the cool, calm and collected travelers. At least, that is how they appear to me. The woman on the loudspeaker is calling out final boarding and they walk right up, maybe in a sprint, but usually with a smile on their faces. How can they be so calm? You will see them pile in just when you think you are that lucky one on a full flight with no one seated next to you. They sit right on down in the empty seat. These travelers live in a state of not knowing, but not worrying about if they will be traveling that day.
After examining the two types, I am left with the question as to what each says about you and how you travel. I inherited my Mom’s timing. She is always early for the airport, or anything in life for that matter. My Dad’s timing is the polar opposite. He hasn’t showered an hour before his flight. Rather than writing it off as some sort of genetic timing, I have to think the way I travel to the airport, early and on time, is part of my urgent need to travel. I don’t want to miss a flight or connection. I know there will be other flights, but that is precious travel time I’m not willing to forfeit to seem like one of those nonchalant travelers that saunter up to the gate without a care or worry. While I will probably never be this type of traveler, here is my case to you travel late-comers, my reasons for early airport arrival.
1. Oh The People You Will See
When you arrive to the airport late, you miss out on important airport people watching. You would miss the woman I once witnessed yell at a Starbucks employee, shouting at the top of her lungs, “Starbucks! Do you have food here? Starbucks!”. I think she thought the employee’s name was also Starbucks. Yes, these are the episodes that I enjoy and learn from while waiting at the gate for hours. If you arrive late to the airport, you miss them. Sure, you have a whole plane ride of people watching ahead of you, but the amount of people for viewing at gates and terminals allots for more opportunities and more stories.
2. Oh The Problems You Won’t Have
If you arrive early to a flight, and the ticket agent tells you there is a problem with your ticket, you have time to sort out the issue. I once arrived to a confusing Sicilian airport. The agent informed me that my ticket didn’t exist. She told me I would have to get out of the line I just waited 40 minutes in and purchase a new ticket. Now, this issue was not my fault. It was the airline’s, and I’m not just saying that. Due to the fact that I allowed for early arrival, I was able to solve the problem and make my flight that day.
3. Oh The Places You Will Go
This is the biggest reason I can tip in the early to the airport traveler’s favor. Your chances of missing out on that extra day in Maui are incredibly slim. Unless there is some sort of weather problem, you will be on the beach shortly with a Mai Tai in hand. Travel is something that should not be taken lightly. Few travel in a lifetime. I treat the opportunity in this way. I am lucky to have a seat on that plane. I am lucky to be heading out of town. Many would take my seat in an instant, so out of respect for travel, I’m arriving early.
Now, this is just my case to become what I am, a traveler that must arrive early to the airport. Feel free to leave your case, walk up to the gate travelers. Try and convince me of your ways, but I guarantee come June 8th, I’ll be headed out to the airport for my flight to Italy at least three hours in advance. I’m not missing out on travel.
Which type of traveler are you? Leave a comment in the box below. I’d be interested to see which category most people fall into.