Tag Archives: airport

Well connected

This was my first full week at home in a while. In the last month or so, I’ve spent 15 days in airports, some 20 airports in all, counting connections. You might say I’ve been going at terminal velocity.

Or you might say I’ve been on an extended hub crawl. (Okay, I stole that pun from a recent issue of the US Airways in-flight magazine; being that they graciously plugged my blog last year, I owe them attribution.)

This last wave didn’t yield epic tales, as previous trips almost always have. Thankfully, this time I’m left with just a few bits of footage, which remain stored in my mental DVR:

  • There was a medical emergency mid-flight. The crew called for a doctor to tend to an ailing passenger. The woman beside me—who had noticed the clinical trial data I was reviewing in preparation for moderating a medical program—tried  to volunteer me. “Aren’t you a doctor? Can’t you do something?” I wanted to tell her that if a doctor emerged, I’d be happy to introduce him, but that’s all I was qualified to do. Instead, I said nothing.
  • Before an early flight, I watched as a woman poured Starbucks coffee into a child’s sippy cup. I was horrified, but didn’t say anything.
  • One morning I stopped for breakfast at an airport restaurant called Real Food. I ordered a pancake and bacon. When I went to cut into the pancake with a knife and fork, it was so hard that it snapped my fork in two. I couldn’t even get my teeth through the bacon. I was tempted to accuse the manager of serving Pretend Food but instead I threw my breakfast Frisbee in the trash without saying a word.
  • At what I assume was a pet-friendly hotel, I watched a dog drop his business in a carpeted corridor and walk away nonchalantly with its owner. Not a peep out of me.

No, I’m just a frequent flyer who sits quietly in the gate area listening to the Bluetoothed blowhard (there’s one at every gate) loudly putting together the big corporate deal. And I shake my head at the Smartphone Sallies who fight over the last available outlet, scrounging for electricity as if it were crack cocaine.

My personal addiction? Airport jewelry kiosks. This credit card bill’s going to be a doozy. I already know these impulse buys are irresponsible, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything.


Filed under Travel

Mind your manners

This may not come as much of a surprise, but I am kind of an etiquette geek.

I defer to conventions and rules established so long ago that, in modern times, they might seem outmoded.

While some rules of etiquette might seem superfluous, in my mind, most are in place for much the same reason Emily Post or Miss Manners might argue—that they preserve civilized co-existence with our fellow humans. My words, not theirs, but you get the gist.

One realm in which greater awareness of etiquette is sorely needed is air travel. A quick Internet search revealed more than a dozen sites addressing air travel etiquette, so people and institutions are definitely spreading the word.

Mostly these sites address the obvious:  don’t kick the seat in front of you, don’t throw trash on the floor of the plane, don’t try and repack your suitcase before hefting it into the overhead bin while 75 passengers wait in the aisle behind you.

As a seasoned business traveler, I do not intend to be a snob; in fact, I go out of my way to be helpful to those who aren’t so accustomed.

However, I do believe just a few simple acts of civility would ease an already tense process; or at least keep us from wanting to mutilate each other with the tweezers that eluded security.

  1. Please dress appropriately. Whether in the gate area or a cramped coach cabin, we can’t avoid extreme closeness. So we should not be forced to look at the bare-fleshed, hairy legs or the unpedicured toes of strangers. Ladies and gentlemen alike, when you sit down, your shorts ride up. Most of us were brought up to dress for travel; I’d wear white gloves if I could find them to fit my freakishly large hands. Please save the shorts and flip-flops for your beach destination.
  2. Walk as you would drive, on the right side of the concourse. If you feel the need to stop cold, please pull off to the side. You wouldn’t stop your car in the middle of the freeway without pulling over to the shoulder. The pedestrian behind you, trying to make it from Gate A2 to Gate E58 in 10 minutes’ time, may rear-end you right in the knees.
  3. Do you really need to bring your bed pillow? I understand if you have a small pillow for your orthopedic need or a support cushion around your neck. People have told me they take their own pillows when they travel because they don’t trust the cleanliness of hotel pillows. So now when you get to your hotel, your pillow will be encrusted in airplane cooties.  Plus, it makes you look like a goofball.
  4. The universal armrest rule:  the one on the right is yours.
  5. If you notice someone sleeping during the boarding announcements, please tap her on the shoulder.

Please note:  Word Nymph is currently combining business with pleasure. Her pleasure accommodations have technological limitations that may inhibit timely blogging. Perhaps there’s a local Panera.


Filed under Rants and Raves, Travel

It’s time

This week I have been spending a fair amount of time in the air. 

I don’t travel as often as George Clooney in Up in the Air but, like George’s character, I am robotic in my process.  I go through security like a zombie—that’s the best way to do it, actually—and seldom get rattled.  I often rent cars on the other end and that too has become rhythmic.

I don’t even travel as often as many of my colleagues.  I have one client who flies out of Philly so often she’s been offered the airport employees’ discount at Auntie Anne’s.

Erma Bombeck wrote a popular book entitled, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home.

While, sadly, I haven’t used my passport in quite some time, Erma’s book title swooshes through my head during some of my busiest domestic travel weeks.  In fact, during time spent recently in a boarding area (no, not that time), I drew up a list of it’s-time-to-go-home triggers.

It’s time to go home when:

  • you check the Departures monitor for your gate and have to look at your boarding pass to remember where you are going
  • you and the US Airways flight attendants recognize each other–and smile fondly
  • you use your travel toiletries more than the ones at home
  • you sit down in a restaurant and look for the seat belt
  • you achieve frequent shopper status at Taxco Sterling and HMS Newsstand (and Auntie Anne’s).  The woman at the Taxco counter at National Airport knows which pieces I already have.
  • you spot the same set of identically dressed adult twins twice (not yet, but it’s bound to happen!)

How about you?  When is it time for you to go home?

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Filed under Foibles and Faux Pas, Food, Movies, Television and Radio, Travel

Joined at the unbelted waist

If ever I was tempted to ask a stranger’s permission to snap a photograph, it was yesterday morning.  I still regret not doing so.  Definitely my loss–and yours. 

I had just taken a seat on the shuttle bus to an early plane when I saw a tall, well-dressed man boarding the bus.  I looked down for a split second, looked up and saw him getting on the bus, again.  Déjà vu?  I rubbed my eyes and shook my head and wished for a second cup of coffee.

I got on the plane and found my seat. 

I saw the same man, I’d say he was between 45 and 50 years old, walking down the aisle.  He was tall, wore a very good charcoal micro-plaid suit, a starched white shirt, gold cufflinks, odd-looking large-framed glasses and a bright red silk tie with a windowpane design and yellow accents.

Right behind him was another man, between 45 and 50.  He was tall, wore a very good charcoal micro-plaid suit, a starched white shirt, gold cufflinks, odd-looking large-framed glasses and a bright red silk tie with a windowpane design and yellow accents.

The two men found their seats across the aisle and one row back from me, but before they sat side by side, each took off his suit coat.  I confirmed the identical designer suits, shirts, ties, cufflinks, pocket squares, glasses, shoes and haircuts.  I strained my neck trying to compare the monograms on their identical French cuffs.

They had identical faces.  They were 45-year-old identical twins.  Dressed identically.

Then, as the suit coats came off, I saw that one was wearing red suspenders and the other, yellow.  Clearly, they were expressing their individuality.  In identical ways.

The plane took off.  As I looked over my shoulder, I was almost willing to risk air safety and turn on my camera phone, just to capture it—two oversized men, seated tightly side by side in Row 6 of a puddle jumper, impeccably and identically dressed, discussing college baseball.  And then, at exactly the same time, they fell asleep, their heads dipped forward, chins resting on their identical red silk ties.

Oh, to know their story.

The only clue they provided — each carried on board a paper shopping bag.  One from Brooks Brothers, the other, from the Supreme Court gift shop.


Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Foibles and Faux Pas, Travel

Sociology lessons while U wait

Earlier in this business travel season I had the opportunity to spend 11 hours in the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport.

When I posted on Facebook the news of my prolonged delay, four out of five Friends recommend I head for the bar.  My inner shopper begged for retail therapy.  Instead, I went gate hopping.  Every hour or two I got up and sat at a different gate.

I observed travelers and imagined their back stories.  I spotted trends and differences.  Surprisingly, there were more commonalities than differences among travelers at a given gate, from certain mannerisms to the ways in which adults related to their children.  I wondered how these might be linked to their destinations. 

I was seated at one gate when an arriving flight came in.  I watched as passengers entered the airport.   Each one was extraordinarily obese.  Oddly, nearly all passengers wore thin, frayed tee shirts, yet they did not seem to know each other.  One by one, each man who came off the plane sported an enormous, pendulous belly.  It was surreal.  And the women, also terribly overweight.  I was ashamed of myself for noticing, yet I couldn’t look away.  Each woman’s huge breasts dangled freely, inadequately supported by proper garments. It’s like the flight originated in a city without modern lingerie. 

I desperately wanted to know where they had flown in from. It must have been somewhere warm, as it was still winter and no coats or jackets were worn.  Was it a charter flight to a taping of The Biggest Loser?   Was it a city on Men’s Health magazine’s list of 10 Fattest Cities?  I thought about asking a passenger innocently, “From what city did this plane depart?”  But then, I just couldn’t come up with an honest but polite response to, “[insert city], why do you ask?”

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Filed under Travel

Blink and you’ll miss it

In order to compose today’s blog entry, I had to perform some computer forensics.

Used to learn what a victim or perpetrator was doing in the days or minutes before a crime, computer forensics help create a chronicle of events leading up to the time such crime occurred.  They tell investigators when the person in question was last online, what Web sites were visited, when e-mails were sent and to whom.

Following is what appears to have occurred on the morning of Friday, April 9th.

9:10 – Return rental car at Pittsburgh International Airport.

9:25 – Clear airport security.

9:30 – Arrive at Gate C51 for 10:21 flight to Washington Dulles.

9:31 – Experience passing amusement:  the Griswolds arriving at Wally World, “first ones here, first ones here!”

9:42 – Complete and save expense report for the trip.

9:50 – Older gentleman takes the seat next to me.

10:00 – Observe a few passers-by asking older gentleman for his autograph.  Listen in.

10:08 – Post the following on Facebook:  Sitting in the Pittsburgh airport next to a hockey icon who, I’ve overheard from those lining up for his autograph, won the Stanley Cup in 1964.  Nice man but I don’t know his name.”

10:10 – Answer an e-mail while waiting for boarding announcement.

10:11 – Blink.

10:31 – Wake up.

10:32 – Ask older gentleman if flight to Dulles has begun boarding.  Older gentleman smiles and says, “You must be Monica Welch.  They paged you several times before your plane left.”

10:45 – Older gentleman boards his flight to Toronto, shaking his head and laughing with his fellow passengers.

10:47 – Call to ask client to deploy contingency plan for the 2 p.m. meeting on the narcolepsy drug—because I fell asleep. 

Postscript:  I still don’t know the name of that famous Stanley Cup winner, but he knows mine.


Filed under Foibles and Faux Pas, Technology and Social Media, Travel