If you’ve ever flown a commercial airline, most of what I will say in this post should resonate with you. The dilemma for any air traveler is what to do while waiting for your plane. Short waits can be handled easily by reading a newspaper, listening to some music or simply people watching.
Long waits, extended waits due to flight delays and layovers, though, can be boring and tiring. What can you do so you don’t die of boredom? Here is what I did today while in the airport:
Arrive early – Can you believe I just wrote that? I’m trying to help you survive long waits in the airport and I tell you to arrive early. Here’s why – you don’t want to start the trip being stressed about missing your flight. The earlier you arrive, the less you have to worry. Regardless of how long it takes to get through security, you won’t have to worry.
We were told today that security in the Lubbock International Airport (LIA) has been rated one of the worst in the country (mostly due to increased body searches rather than long lines). My co-worker and I arrived at the airport expecting the worst. Guess what happened! We, of course, walked right through security with no issues. But, if we would have waited until the last-minute to arrive, I am confident the security line would have been a mess and at least one of would have been selected for a search.
Many people get stressed because they don’t plan ahead. I strive to arrive early everywhere I go. Sure, maybe I sacrifice some productive time but it’s well worth it to keep from being stressed. You should try it. Arrive early everywhere you go. See how you feel.
People watch – People watching is my favorite activity in an airport. With people coming and going from all over the world, you can see some very diverse things. Flying out of Lubbock, TX with a two-hour layover in Dallas, TX today, we got to see some culture to which we’re not accustomed. It’s amazing the outfits that apparently are acceptable to wear with cowboy boots. I felt out of place not having a pair.
We also got to watch two very cute little girls playing and watching the planes. They were probably three and four years old, respectively. It made me think of my girls waiting for me back home. Smiling children always brighten my day.
You can also witness some people who are very into themselves which is funny in its own right. One gentleman was blaring Michael Jackson’s greatest hits through his headphones. He was oblivious (or just didn’t care) to all the people looking at him shaking their heads. The music was so loud that I could hear it even though I had my head phones on listening to a Lewis Howes podcast.
Another person we encountered on our flight to Lubbock kept us entertained all week. We walked up to the line to board according to our boarding group number. If you’ve flown Southwest, you know what I’m referring to. The line was kind of tight so we stood off to the side but knew we were in our assigned numbered slot.
This young guy looked at us and asked if we were in line. We said yes and he then states, “The line’s back there, bro” while pointing to the back of the entire line. It ends up that his assigned number was the number before mine. We, of course, stayed where we were.
Apparently this guy had never flown before because I saw him ask someone when we deplaned about why the baggage claim wasn’t right there at the gate. He had no idea all the luggage was brought into a centralized location in the airport.
Each time we stood in or saw any line of people the rest of the week, we said, “The line’s back there, bro.” Hilarious (maybe you just had to be there…).
Work – When we arrived to LIA more than three hours before our departure time, I took out my laptop and worked for a couple of hours. I could have occupied myself in other ways but I knew I had a two-hour layover later. Why not be productive so I don’t have to do it later. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. That’s right.
Relax – Traveling takes a toll on you. It shouldn’t be tiring sitting all day but it is. While you’re there, lean back in a seat, close your eyes and just relax. Clear your mind and think of nothing. Or, put in your headphones and listen to music, a podcast or audio book. Be as comfortable as you can in the terminal because you know you won’t be too comfortable on the plane.
Walk around – I can only sit so long before I need to stretch. If you have time to kill, don’t be afraid to leave your gate and talk a walk. Get blood pumping through your tired achy muscles so you won’t be so miserable on the plane.
Go to the airport convenience store and look around. Pick up some magazines and flip through them. Look at the best-selling books and see what might interest you. People watch as you walk. Just be moving and you will feel better.
So that is how I spent about five hours today while waiting in the airport. Would I rather have been home or at work than in the airport? Sure. But traveling is a necessity in my line of business. I can accept it and enjoy my time or I can complain about it. I choose to enjoy it.
When you travel, be intentional. Be happy. Enjoy success.