Shouldn’t have gotten on this flight tonight

I just finished my last business trip before I revert to civilian status, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. There is a certain badge of honour in being a road warrior because of the scars and battle wounds we gather courtesy of the time we spend in the airport, hotel and bad food trenches. Of course having the badge is no substitute for having a life, but entering the off-ramp into the slow lane of leisure travelers comes with some new and different challenges, not the least of which is relinquishing whatever privileges come with airline ‘status’ these days – those small mercies that allow you to get on board before all the overhead bins are stuffed to the max and get a head start on a movie (thank you noise cancelling earbuds and thank you airlines for not having figured out yet that noise cancelling earbuds exist).

I would never have thought it was possible to get tired of San Francisco but after well into the double digits worth of trips (averaging at least four times a year) it would take a ride with Steve McQueen to inject even a little excitement into touching down at SFO. I’m sure the Friday morning flight from gate 92 won’t miss me and nor will the two-thirds of passengers that clog the line for Zones 1 and 2. Sorry, Golden Gate Bridge, you are dead to me (in a nice way).

I hate to report that LGA is spiraling further down (if that is even possible) into grumpy, grungy territory. Even if the construction that results in a 40 minute journey from Terminal 1 to 2 finally abates within my lifetime, I’m sure they will still continue to roll-up the carpet on the TSA Precheck lane when the clock strikes 6pm, because of course all of us trying to get home at a decent hour after foolishly deciding to day-trip it to New York should have taken an earlier flight. Oh, but that flight was probably cancelled anyway. Fingers crossed, I will never again have to find a stranded-after-last-flight-out dodgy hotel room in Queens.

I have a little bit more sympathy for Las Vegas (ringing in at four times this year) because it tries so hard, but I lose every shred of it dealing with the typical Las Vegas visitor who personifies the most rookie species of amateur traveler. These are the people who saunter aimlessly down the terminal corridor and stop abruptly in front of me when I am making the mad dash to the gate. Or wear shorts on the plane then complain that it’s cold. Or don’t leave their People magazine behind in the seat pocket.

While cooling our heels outside Gate 92 six weeks ago, one of my colleagues said “My biggest fear is getting a seat where the entertainment system audio doesn’t work.” After we all stopped laughing at this penultimate first world problem, there was a moment of silence while the true meaning of this statement sank in. As frequent fliers not many things cause trepidation or anxiety because we’ve seen it and done it all before. Crashing into a mountain? Skidding off the runway? Landing at the gate that couldn’t possibly be more remote from the Customs Hall? We laugh in your general direction! What we fear most is losing the things that remind us we are human. Especially losing that window of quality time when the work world can’t reach us so we can squander it watching Ghostbusters.

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