Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The three hour airport arrival rule

I like to think that I'm laid-back and to some extent I'm sure that my travels and life experiences have mellowed me out a little bit, but the truth is that I'm actually quite high-strung.

Example A: I hate being late to the airport.

Late = Less than three hours before my flight departs.

I have always been this way. Because my parents were divorced, I flew with relative frequency between San Jose and Orange County, California. Usually my mom would take me to the airport, but occasionally my aunt would take me instead.

My aunt does not share my "arrive at airport three hours before flight departure" philosophy. She is more of the "as long as you show up before the plane lifts off the ground, you're fine" philosophy. I have nothing against this philosophy. In an effort to be more relaxed I have even tried to embrace it. But it's no use. Around four hours before my flight departs, my heart begins beating faster, my breathing becomes shallow and rapid, my fingers tap incessantly and everything in my body screams, "LEAVE FOR AIRPORT NOW OR YOU WILL MISS YOUR FLIGHT." My subconscious is ever so slightly dramatic.

Even at the age of eight this behavior had begun to manifest itself. Three hours before my flight I would look anxiously at the clock and sigh loudly as my aunt fed the dog or did the dishes. Two hours before, I would begin to hyperventilate. With one hour to go I would be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Out of pity for my frail nervous system my aunt and cousin would pile into the car. My aunt would nonchalantly mention that she needed to stop by the bank and it would only take a second because it was on the way. I would panic. With thirty minutes to go we would be pulling into the airport parking lot and I would be poised to grab my bags and sprint through John Wayne Airport as soon as the car slowed down enough for me to leap out. All the while my inner monologue would be screaming that the plane had already left...surely they had already locked the doors. But no. I always arrived at the gate with time to spare. I have, in fact, never missed a flight as a result of showing up late to the airport.

There is only one other person I have ever met who shares my "terrified of being late and missing the flight" syndrome. She is my best friend, one of my favorite traveling companions, and probably the only person on the planet who does not judge me when five hours before the flight departs, I look at the clock and say, "i guess we should probably head to the airport now." She is usually already in the car saying, "we should probably leave six hours before so that we have time to stop at Peet's coffee." I'm pretty sure we were separated at birth.

If you really want to gauge your relationship with someone you should travel with them. Traveling, much like tandem sea kayaks, will make or break a relationship. Guaranteed.

While I would never want to be in a double kayak with him (I don't care who you are, that's just a bad idea), British guy and I travel well together. He doesn't share my airport arrival philosophy, but I can overlook this because he helps carry my stuff (re: he carries all of it) and he also likes to purchase a copy of The Economist to read on the plane. And he doesn't mind when I want my own seat on the bus so I can stare out the window while listening to my iPod and imagining myself accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. Well he doesn't know that I imagine that. I guess he does now.

He also puts up very diplomatically with my travel foibles. They are as follows:

1. I don't really enjoy going to visit tourist sites.
2. I'm not a big fan of guided tours. In fact, they send me running.
3. I tend to tune out when my traveling companions read out of the guide book while we wander around the city/church/museum/historical site. Unless they do it in a  funny accent. Then I enjoy it.
4. I am a food snob. I don't mean that I'm picky about what I eat, but I am fussy about where. I have a knack for finding good restaurants. I once dragged my poor friend, Ryan, through Florence for hours in search of the perfect restaurant even though he had injured himself and was limping pathetically courageously behind me. But he did eat well that night. Although it might have come at the expense of his knee.
5. I have this really, really annoying tendency to not look at a map and instead insist on wandering aimlessly around figuring that I'll find where I need to be eventually. This is ridiculous and annoying and is completely worthy of being slapped upside the head with a Lonely Planet Guide. Preferrably the Europe one. You're welcome Lonely Planet. Your sales for that particular guide just skyrocketed.

British guy also entertains me. Admittedly this is not difficult to do, but it definitely comes in handy when our Easyjet flight to Morocco is four hours late and we're stuck sitting in the Lyon airport. Because British guy knows when to listen to me and when to slap me upside the head with a Lonely Planet Guide,* we did not arrive at the Lyon airport three hours before our scheduled flight departure and --as a result-- only spent five hours sitting at the airport instead of eight.

*British guy objected to this. He says that he wouldn't hit me in the head with a guidebook as a teaspoon is far more effective.

**Excuse the typos. Typing on a French keyboard in Morocco.


Martha said...

This made me: 1. miss you 2. want to travel and 3. leaving me wondering if we are the only people who leave half a day early to the airport...

Nikki Hodgson said...

Aww, I just saw this. I'm excited for our Southeast Asia trip. Do you think we can take a boat there? Is there any possible way that does not include a 20 hour flight? I don't think I could take drinking for 20 straight hours. Oh, who am I kidding! Just pack some extra wine on the carry on.

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