I have never flown as often as I have in the past six months. And, I've traveled solo.
Relocating from Chicago to Florida meant that I would need to travel back to home base, occasionally, for my job. Plus, I've added in conferences, work meetings in other states, speaking engagements, and one more trip for my daughter to attend an anime convention. So, I've been in and out of airports... a lot.
Following is a list of unrelated incidents and observations from this newbie frequent flier:
1) Orlando Airport has the most children. Children bearing Mickey Mouse ears and in full-blown meltdowns from over stimulation. I have never, ever in my life seen so many cranky kids and adults with glazed-over eyes clutching their cups of coffee.
2) There is something joyous about going through security alone. For all of you mamas out there, you know what I mean. You only need to take off your shoes and coat, and unpack your Ziploc baggie of essentials. You only need to keep track of you.
3) Even then, I mess up. In the tiniest airport ever - Grand Rapids - I was pulled aside for an extra security check. The TSA agent asked me if I had any weapons. Really? Me? No. What I did have - I soon discovered was a renegade bottle of water.
4) Women have it rough. I stood next to one woman who was shouting to the TSA agent: "It's a breast pump." "Great," she told me. "Now the entire airport knows I'm lactating." She said that one time she even had to take a drink of her breast milk to show it was the real thing. Oh dear.
5) Starbucks is your friend. I only went through one airport - Midway - where Starbucks was not clearly evident and abounding. I hated that. I almost felt paralyzed with confusion.
6) I am always fearful I will drop my suitcase on someone's head while lifting it into the overhead bin. Thankful for the chivalrous man who helped me on the last flight. Thank you kind sir. You have no idea.
7) Southwest rules. They just do.
8) There is no gum for sale in the Orlando Airport. I know. Travesty. The clerk told me to buy Mentos. Really?! How will my ears ever pop?
9) I still get a childlike thrill at take-off - and always put my hand out to help the pilot break when we land. Always.
10) I have enjoyed many, many packets of Ritz Cracker Chips - which we all delightfully accept - and I will probably never ever buy or eat them anywhere else. They're kind of like 7up when you are sick. You are so grateful and happy just to have a little treat.
11) You really do need to check in 24 hours in advance. I once went renegade and didn't. I was in something like the "E" section - behind everyone else. When I got to the boarding gate, they needed to "check" my bag. Bummer. Now, I sit by my computer like a hawk searching for its prey - ready to pounce at that exact minute. Once, I claimed B-1!!!!
12) Choosing your seat is strategic. In Southwest, you choose your seat. Avoid the screaming kids (I know - I had one once - but I don't now). Avoid the coughers - you just know you'll be sick two days later. Avoid the strange chatty men that smile and pat the seat next to them. Avoid the center seat. Try to get near the front for a quick escape.
13) I really like flying. It is like a little mini-vacation. I can read, chew my gum, eat my little bag of Ritz Cracker Chips, have a Coke with ice, watch a little home decorating, do some writing, and then I'm there - somewhere else.
14) Coming home is the best. Tap my sparkly red shoes and take me home. As much as I enjoy the momentary sense of freedom and the quiet hotel room with full control of the lights, air and tv channel, I miss everyone the minute I leave.