You see it pretty much every time you’re in the airport. You’re calmly walking to the nearest restaurant or shop to grab an incredibly overpriced and underwhelming meal before heading to your gate to board. Before you even have time to experience the greatest rip-off of your life in the form of a stale tuna sandwich (that for some reason has raisins in it?) and a six dollar bottle of water, the back of your foot get destroyed by someone’s rolling carry-on. Apology not always included. When traveling, there’s never a shortage of anxiety-inducing tight layovers, nor poor planning from what feels like 70% of people in the airport. Frantic people, everywhere running around like it’s Field Day in elementary school! Except for this time, a lot more is on the line than first place ribbons.
For years, I prided myself on the fact that I was never “that guy” running around looking crazy busting full out sprints in Terminal 2. I always planned and gave myself enough cushion so I was never in that position. I never book flights with layovers under an hour and 45 minutes so even with delays, I’m rarely at risk of missing my connection. With my decent luck and planning, I was determined to never get caught running through the airport like a mad man.
Perhaps it’s a rite of passage?
So let me tell you about the time I was “that guy…”
I was traveling with two friends from Lisbon on the last flight of the evening out to Dublin. We arrived at the airport around three hours early since it was so cold and rainy outside that day. We figured we’d get there with lots of time to spare, grab a bite to eat and take our time. (LOL)
Pretty much every time I went to the airport, I would stop for food after going through security so I could relax. I try to de-risk situations as much as possible. Although that was always the safe strategy, more times than not I would pass up on dozens of solid food options just to get past security and only have two sh*tty grab-and-go sandwich stands to choose from. After fighting back tears of regret for passing up the good food that is no longer an option, I have no choice but to get the 6 dollar water and the stale raisin-filled tuna sandwich.
Seeing as to how I’ve been burned by terrible post-security check food more times than I can count, I decided we’d eat at one of the many restaurant options before security. Because… you know… we had SO much time right?!
So we sit down and have a literal f*cking FEAST in this restaurant. We were CHILLIN! I kept my eyes on the time. Boarding didn’t start until 6:45. I could see the line for security wasn’t long at all so we were good! At 6:30, I changed shoes so I’d have more room in my bag. I put on my chunky high heel boots and put my flats in my carry-on. We grabbed all of our belongings and went over to security. Before we walked through the line I checked to see our gate and made a mental note of it. After I get through security and grab my coat, I look back up at the monitor and noticed our gate changed to a gate that was about 20 gates further away. OH… and the screen says FINAL CALL. My stomach dropped and I started sweating bullets. I turned around to one of my friends who was directly behind me and just said: “It’s final call” and took off running. I knew if one of us could at least get to the gate first we can have the gate agents wait on the other two. Not only am I wearing really high (and very loud) boots, I’m wearing a sweater dress, thick leggings, a coat, and dragging a small rolling bag that was literally bursting at the seams.
This gate was the furthest possible gate from us in the entire terminal. The arrows on the signs never seemed to stop. Every few minutes I would look over my shoulder and see my crew behind me. Once I knew we were all still together I just kept sprinting. When I finally thought we were there, we hit an unexpected roadblock. We still had to go through passport control to stamp out of Portugal. At that time, I didn’t realize Ireland wasn’t in the Schengen Zone, therefore, passport control was necessary. (UGH!!) Luckily, we were able to get through passport control rather quickly and caught a quick breath from all the sprinting. As soon as our passports were stamped, we continued our sprint through the final gates.
I was finally close enough to see our gate in the distance. I could see the gate agent still scanning boarding passes with the door to the jet bridge open. I finally felt a bit of relief so I slowed my sprint down to a jog. I get to the gate agent about a minute later DRENCHED in sweat (and perhaps a bit of shame) and hand her my boarding pass. I was so frazzled, I ended up handing her an old boarding pass from a totally different airline that I flew earlier in the week. Now I’m frantically looking through my purse, dropping chapstick and keys, huffing and puffing, all out STRUGGLING. I eventually locate the correct boarding pass and make way onto the plane. I really must have been visibly distraught and haggard looking. As I walked down the aisle making my way to my seat I could feel all of the ‘stank faces’ grilling me. Once I put my bags away, I turned to my friends in the opposite row and just burst into uncontrollable laughter for five minutes straight. Now that the panic was over and we actually made it I couldn’t help but laugh at my “that’s what you get” moment! So many years rolling my eyes and looking sideways at people who run through the airport, now here I am! I’ve become that guy!
Despite the unfortunate, yet hilarious situation, here are four things I learned from it:
- Never book an important excursion day one in any location when you’re taking the last flight out of the night. Had we missed our flight that night, we would have missed our early bus transport (pre-booked) the next morning to the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher was our number one priority in Ireland and the money we spent on the booking would have been lost had we not made it there the night before. Now, my first day in locations is usually a chill day with nothing super important pre-booked just in case something goes wrong. Having a buffer in your itinerary is always a good idea.
- Just go through security girl! It’s really not worth it to eat pre-security. I knew this before, I tried to be a hero, it didn’t work. Back to the status quo!
- Always allow time for passport control pre or post security when not traveling domestically or within the Schengen Zone. Some countries even have second security, keep an eye out for this as well.
- NEVER judge a person running through the airport again. It has been and very well could be you!