Thursday, August 10, 2006

Only Mildly Hellish At Midway

I got from my office near O'Hare about half the distance to Midway in about 15 minutes. From that point to the airport took another hour, with the slowdown starting at about the Ohio exit on 90/94. The traffic aspired to a crawl. Part of it was the Dan Ryan construction, the rest was just too many cars for too few roads.

Once I found a spot to park on the uppermost level of the garage, I lugged my heavy, unwheeled luggage toward my airline's check-in station. Of course, I had to walk to the furthest part of the terminal. It couldn't have been one of the counters nearest to my elevator -- that would be the cheap way out.

I got in line where I saw a gap; I was guessing it was the end of the line. As I stepped into the line, I realized I had stepped between two men traveling together, so I politely allowed them to stand together. They looked at me like I had an antenna coming out of my head. A few minutes later, longer then they had any reason to wait, a young woman tapped me on shoulder and said, "Sir, the end of the line is back there, all the way around the corner." Evidently, I had guessed wrong about the gap in the line.

My heart sank a little as I walked around the side of the terminal because I couldn't quite see the back of the line, but I ultimately found the the right spot and from there it really wasn't that bad. The line moved quick. They must have called everybody in, because there were plenty of people to answer questions and check the luggage. The only time the line stopped was when security said they ran out of room for the luggage. We had to wait about five minutes before they cleared away the backlog and the line could move again.

After they announced the backup of luggage, some guy joked that probably one in three of us would have our luggage lost. I panicked a little. I had changed from slacks and loafers into shorts and flip-flops for the flight; no point in being uncomfortable. Then I realized with my slacks and dress shoes in my luggage, if my luggage got lost, I'd be giving a four hour presentation in shorts and flip-flops. Probably not very professional looking. I shoved my slacks into my carry-on and contemplated how I'd make my dress shoes fit in the same bag, then decided I was overreacting. I figure there must be someplace open at 9:00 am that sells shoes.

Security was similarly well-staffed. I wouldn't have had to wait at all if not for the young guy in front of me who couldn't manage to get his laptop into the tray with any kind of efficiency. Amateur. They should make people like him watch a training video before they get to security, or make them go through a special line.

For the record, I will swear on a Bible that I can get my shoes and socks off and my laptop in a bin in less than 20 seconds. I'd like to see the kid in front of me today top that.

Anyway, the people scanning the luggage were especially vigilant. I've been through countless airports with carry-ons packed virtually the same way and not had any problems, yet they took extra care to make sure my bag was alright. I didn't mind one bit, and they were very polite. I actually panicked a little, thinking I had a forgotten bottle of mouthwash tucked away in a pocket somewhere, but I didn't.

I had called my wife just after I got in the check-in line, then called again after I got through security. I hadn't paid attention to the time, but she said it was 30-40 minutes between calls. Not bad, considering the horror stories from earlier today. Now I'm sitting in a crowded terminal blogging, after having arrived at my gate 90 minutes before the scheduled flight time, and over two hours before the actual fight time.

UPDATE: After numerous delays, none of which were security related, I finally arrived at my destination. A normal day for travel, once the airlines and the TSA called in the extra people they needed.

As I was talking to my wife, I noticed that all of the TVs in the gate area were turned off. Normally they'd have the CNN airport feed, but not on a day like today.

Technorati tags:

No comments: