With one hand on my heart and my browser aimed directly at Travelocity.com, I hereby declare that my 2007 New Year's Resolution is (drum roll, please) to enjoy airline travel.
But, in order to enjoy airline travel, I must also learn to enjoy another aspect of flying: waiting. You see, in the good old days (2005) there didn't seem to be as much waiting as there is today. There definitely wasn't as much interest in my liquids and gels then either. But, today, there's a whole lot of waiting going on.
Don't just take my word for it, though. Let me share with you a recent trip I took to visit a group of advisors in scenic Rochester, Minn.
In order to catch my 6:05 a.m. flight to Rochester (via O'Hare), I rushed to get to the airport around 4:30 a.m. so I could wait in line at the ticket counter. I slowly inched my way forward and eventually got my boarding pass and checked my bags. With my bags safely out of my hands, I shuffled on to my next line: security.
The security line is actually two lines in one. The first part of the line is a liquid check. After stripping down to my Speedo and enduring the liquid/gel cavity search, I was allowed to walk (gingerly) into the boarding area for -- you guessed it -- another wait.
After patiently waiting for Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4 to board, they decided to let me on the plane to enjoy my much-coveted middle seat. As we taxied to the runway, the pilot welcomed us on board and then proceeded to inform us that there was an FAA ground hold for all planes heading to Chicago. Another wait -- no problem.
Eventually, we became airborne and, an hour later, were caught in yet another FAA holding pattern. This time we got to fly in circles. Weeeeeeee!!!
As we all know, everything that goes up must come down, and my plane was no exception. As we touched down, I heard an audible sigh of relief from my fellow passengers. Soon, for sure, we would be able to get out of this flying tube. Soon turned out to be later than we hoped because the gate at which we were supposed to "de-plane" was, of course, occupied by another plane.
By that time, most of us who had to make connections had missed them. "No problem," I was told. "There are gate agents standing by, ready to assist you." I just had to wait until they helped all those other people ahead of me.
To make a long story short, I made it to my meeting and then promptly turned around and headed back to the Rochester airport to fly home. I repeated the same procedure all the way -- connecting once again through Chicago.
For my final wait, I spent 40 minutes in line to give my money to the one parking attendant who happened to be on duty at 11:00 p.m. that evening. At last, I made it home. And as I tucked myself into bed a little after midnight, I reflected on my whirlwind day. I had spent at least six hours waiting in some kind of line or another, simply to attend a one-hour meeting.
It was at that very moment that I decided my New Year's Resolution was going to be to enjoy flying -- and thereby to enjoy waiting. How much better my life would be if I could enjoy the two together! As I was trying to fall asleep, it occurred to me that I wasn't very optimistic about keeping my resolution. To top it all off, I had to wait at least an hour before I could fall asleep. At least that line was a lot shorter.
Happy New Year!
Bill Miller is an industry wholesaler and a former recruiter for a leading independent broker-dealer. You can reach the former comedian at firstname.lastname@example.org.