Friday, August 29, 2008

Self-Reflection in Terminal B

The last few times I've flown through Atlanta have been a nightmare. After booking my ticket, I've realized that I have 42 minutes to connect and will likely have to change terminals. So I start stressing right when I wake up. I get to the airport super early and then feel that knot in my stomach tighten as the arriving flight is late and the agents are slow to turn the plane around for our trip. 30 minutes left in my layover. Then we board and I get frustrated at the guy who won't just. put. his. bag. in. the. overhead. compartment. and. sit. down. 26 minutes left in my layover.
We often make up a little time, but by the time our plane arrives and taxis to the gate (I swear, it's in the county somewhere), that knot in my stomach has turned into the realization that I'm going to have to run. 19 minutes left in my layover.

In February, I sprinted, running all the way to the train, riding for 3 stops, and still made it. Even my bag made it. Granted, I was a little sweaty mess, but I was relived. In March, I turned on my phone while we taxied around the airport and already had a voicemail from Delta rebooking my flight.

"Hell no," I thought, and I ran. Ran to the train, then ran beside the train and the train was "temporarily out of service." To add insult the injury, Atlanta's airport gives you too much information. At each terminal stop point, you're greeted with a sign that says "You're in Terminal A. Terminal B: 200 Yards. Terminal C: 400 Meters. Terminal D: 600 Meters. Terminal E: 800 Meters. The Terminal You Need to Be At Right Now: 1600 Meters."

I've run track, so I know the easy math there. 400 Meters = one-quarter mile. In heels. With a rolley bag. Luckily, I tend to leave dignity at home.

So the March flight, I paused to ask the gate agent to let my gate agent know I was coming. "We aren't allowed to call between gates." Right. I believe that. Gr. I made it that time, too, but in a coughing fit, and my bag ended up lost for about 3 days.

So, after three chances, that 42 minute layover flight is out. For the same price, I opted for the two hour layover and, you know what, I had a great day. I was relaxed getting to the airport. I read Money Magazine on the flight to Atlanta, and actually caught some of the Democratic Convention during the layover. Instead of stressing over making the flight, I was just excited to see B.

I've always known I don't deal with stressful situations well, and I hate, hate, hate things that are out of my control. I know worrying about the flight won't make it more likely that I'll make the plane, but I somehow feel like it's my fault for missing it, and that I'm messing up my pretty precious time with B. He, for the record, thinks I'm crazy. That's why, however, we're flying out of Atlanta for our honeymoon, and only direct. The last thing I want to be thinking about that day is about whether or not the terminal train is working in Atlanta.

For the record, despite our super-late arrival into Atlanta, I could've made the earlier flight. I know because I walked to the gate which, for once, was about six gates down. And I learned a lesson. The guy I was walking with was on that short-layover flight and he actually stopped in the bathroom en route to the gate. Cool cucumber. Lesson learned...but I'm still taking the longer layover. Unless it's on the way back to Birmingham. Somehow, with B, I'm in NO rush to get home.

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