I figure I’ve been in about 80 airports around the world. That’s a lot of time spent in airports. I started out at 7 months and just kept going. As a typical TCK, I learned to fly before I walked. By the time I was 11 months old I had been in a car, on a train, on a plane, on a boat and up a funicular. All those “at what age” questions in my baby book were full in no time.
I know some people feel at home in airports, or love being in airports. I hate them. For the most part, they are just boring. I have spent hours zoned out, jet lagged, and sleep deprived on hard benches waiting for the weather to clear or the congestion to ease up or to make up for a lost connection.
Some of my life’s most terrifying experiences happened at airports.
When I was 14, I was in boarding school in Austin, Texas. In the fall my parents had moved from Mexico City to Bogota, Colombia. That winter break I was due to fly to Bogota, someplace I had never been. My route was Austin, Houston, Miami, Bogota.
I got through Houston okay. I had never been to Miami airport before and it was a very long way from the gates to the ticket counter. For some reason I thought I could get my boarding pass at the gate so I just found the gate I was leaving from and hung around there. When they called for us to board the plane, I showed them my ticket and they told me I did not have a boarding pass. I didn’t understand the problem. They told me I would have to go to the ticketing counter to get the pass.
Now, they were already boarding the plane and the ticketing counter was miles away. I freaked out. All they said was, “you will need to hurry so you don’t miss the plane”. I ran as fast as I could down to the ticket counter, I barged to the front of the line in a panic. They gave me a boarding pass and I ran as fast as I could back to the gate, sure I would miss the plane and wondering what I would do.
It seems that whenever I was in these kinds of situations, I never had much money and I never had needed contact information. I just got on airplanes and expected everything to go okay and didn’t worry about it. Had I missed that flight, all I had was my parent’s address in Bogota. No phone number, no other contact info. I suppose I could have called my brother but I’m not even sure I had his contact info. After all I was 14 years old.
But I was lucky, I made the flight and my parents were at the airport to meet me at the other end. There were times when things didn’t go that well, but somehow I always managed to get where I was going. Over the years, I learned there were times when you really could depend on the kindness of strangers.
Do you have any airport stories?