Besides the Macy’s Annual Holiday Parade and stuffing our faces with bird, we have one more constant to look forward to during the November holiday: traveling. An estimated 21 million Americans will be traveling this holiday season. Millions of them are expected to converge on American airports in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, with ticket sales surpassing pre-Sept. 11, 2001 numbers.
Air travel usually leads to frustration and stress, but as we all prepare to celebrate this season, many of us hopping aboard planes to get to our turkey-chowing destinations, we should keep a positive outlook on our travel arrangements.
I was in Washington, D.C. visiting my sister just last weekend. After spending 13 hours of my four-day vacation on airplanes and about seven additional hours waiting in airports, I came to the conclusion that the airport is an environment that truly brings out a primitive state of being in humans.
We are at our worst in airports. Our manners, appearances, habits and emotions are magnified and our wits are tested in the stressful environment.
Inside their secure walls, flyers late for connecting flights run down those of us too slow to keep up. People scream at “Arrivals” and “Destinations” monitors, cursing the air travel gods and throwing their carry-on luggage at their feet.
It is ironic that airlines have mottos that express the exact opposite of the feelings of the passengers they transport around the globe: “Fly the friendly skies,” “We love to fly and it shows” and “We know why you fly.”
People arrive at airports expecting the worst: impossibly long security lines, delays and cancellations, gate changes causing sprints and dodges through overcrowded hallways and ridiculously overpriced food and drink. Through these expectations, reactions change. People are on edge, stressing over boarding passes, liquids in carry-on baggage and getting to gates on time.
So why after walking through airport doors do we tense up and expose the negative emotions we usually hide?
I thought about this on my way home from Washington, D.C. My trip there was sprinkled with delays and unruly fellow passengers and I had expected the same coming back. But coming home, everything went perfectly. The security lines were long, but they went fast. There was a gate change but it was close. There was flight attendant drama but it was entertaining to watch. Hey, I even saw R&B singer Brandy on my flight.
With a positive outlook, any travel trouble can become bearable, maybe even blissful. All it takes is a change in attitude and a good map of your airport terminal.
So as we all zip up our suitcases and prepare for Thanksgiving feasts across the country, let’s remember to pack our common sense so we aren’t left with just our emotions to handle the inevitable hurdles of traveling.
Taylor Moore is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily columnist.