I’m standing barefoot, holding my shoes. This can only mean one thing. A long walk on the beach? No, I’m in an airport, silly. Did I mention that I’m also holding my belt, laptop, coat, purse, carry-on bag, ticket, and photo ID, while pushing my briefcase along with my feet and trying to grab three scanner trays? Time for another fun trip through airport security, otherwise known as the portal to Hell.
With the beginning of the holiday travel season approaching, I thought I’d offer a few tips to make your next trip through this portal more enjoyable, at least as enjoyable as mine was. After all, I just did it, without being randomly selected, at least this time anyway, for personal screening, so I must be an expert.
1. Be sure to arrive at the airport two hours prior to your flight. This allows you extra time to jump out of the way of the other people who are pushing past you on the escalator and people mover, the majority of whom did not arrive two hours before their flight.
2. For a full experience, choose your security screening line wisely. I recommend getting in line behind the guy wearing lace-up hiking boots and cargo pants with a water bottle stuck in his back pocket. It would be even better if he had a laptop in a locked briefcase. Standing in line behind him ensures a maximum amount of time in the screening line, to get the ultimate experience.
3. Choose your seat assignment based on your travel preferences. Do you enjoy having strangers climb over your lap? Then go for the middle seat. Do you find that it just doesn’t seem like vacation unless your elbows are constantly bumped by perky strangers pushing carts? Then you’ll want the aisle seat. Or do you enjoy the intimacy of struggling over the laps of people you’ve never met? Then the window seat is for you. Whatever seat you choose, getting in and out will be a lot like a fun game of Twister.
4. Choose your seat mates wisely. Well, you can’t really choose an interesting seat mate, unless you’re bringing your mother-in-law along, but what if you could? Don’t go for the boring slender business person who sits quietly playing with their phone the entire trip. That wouldn’t be any fun. Look for someone with a little flair, a little different. For instance, on my recent trip, I had the good fortune of being seated next to the female Milton. For those who don’t know, Milton is the somewhat dim, obsessive character in the movie Office Space. I knew right away that I would have a fascinating seat mate experience, when I sat down, and Miltonette proffered a grubby-looking zip-lock bag of potato chips and asked me what nationality I was. The rest of the flight was truly entertaining. Every few minutes Miltonette would randomly blurt out whatever gem had popped into her head. “My sister has strawberry blond hair.” “I paint pictures but don’t sign them.” And my personal favorite: “My whole family uses bar soap.”
5. Hope to find a delightful surprise when you pick up your bag. Suppose your TSA lock is missing. This leads to a fantastic brain teaser that will engage your mind for days, maybe even weeks. Did the TSA search my bag, or did a rogue baggage handler cut off the lock? Has anything been disturbed? Is anything missing? Did they look at my underwear? You’ll never know. Your own unsolved mystery.
Unfortunately, your exciting airplane trip is over, but why let the fun stop now. For a bonus experience:
6. Chose an off-brand rental car. Sure you could pick National or Avis, but where’s the adventure in that? Pick some place you’ve never heard of, say, Fox Rental. Just finding the place is an event. After you’ve traveled blocks from the other, ordinary rental car places and landed in some back-alley warehouse, you get to stand in the “special” complaint line for what seems like hours, just because the fun rental agent finds some secret invisible “damage” on your car. But hey, you saved $30, and now you get to practice your people skills too, so why not? This is a perfect end to your exciting trip.
Travel is fun. Anyone can see that by watching a few episodes of “Pan Am.” Why miss out? Book your trip today.