Alternative Airport Traveling: A Walkthrough and a True Story

Adam Becker University of Edinburgh, Scotland


January 28, 2017

Condition one: Begin by living near a small regional airport. If this does not apply to you, you must fly the traditional way. There are no exceptions.

Granted that you have fulfilled condition one, arrive at the airport whenever you feel like it. Ideally you should arrive an hour before your flight, but if we are being honest with ourselves the line is never long at these regional airports; you will breeze through security in a matter of minutes. Insider tip though, still arrive early and spend the extra time hugging your mom.

After you have hugged your mom for as long as you possibly can, enter security and forget to take out a metallic object (in my case, a pouch of coins). As you are at a regional airport, you have the spare time to deal with whatever hassle that will, inevitably, arise. You will be escorted to a “pat down,” but that is quite alright. Agree to the pat down, and say that you do not want a separate, private room. The insider tip is to not break eye contact as a kindly TSA agent gives you your very own, personal, massage. Thank the TSA agent for your massage, pretend you didn’t just say something insane, and go collect your carry-on bags.

From this point you will inevitably need to be connected to a larger hub, as you are flying from a tiny regional airport. MAKE THIS FLIGHT. It is a 50/50 chance that you will actually be able to leave your regional airport (they are a regional airport after all), but if you do not embark on your first flight, you will not be able to enter the whimsical, bureaucratic nonsense that is the airline industry. And if you cannot enter into this whirl of whimsy, you must postpone your Alternative Airline Adventure™ for another time. Fortunately, the “Alternative” aspect is quite the grey area, so indeed make it your own if you are in the “Canceled Flight” group of travelers.

Presuming that your first flight made it to the international hub, and thereby making a “pres” out of “U” and “Ming,” boldly make your way to the food court where you should purchase a tea and a bowl of oats at the most indie-chain-coffee shop available (in this case, Caribou Coffee). The caffeine in green tea is slow release and will better suit your purposes than the kick-to-the-face that caffeine in coffee delivers as it lacks the mystical tea enzymes. You will now make your way to your gate, enjoy your oats and tea, and be prepared to wait because if everything goes according to the Alternative Airline Adventure Handbook™ your next flight will be delayed by approximately an hour. If your next flight is not delayed approximately an hour, you must resign yourself to the fact that you are on a normal airline trip, and you will most likely, unfortunately, reach your destination on time.

IF, however, your plane is delayed, then you are in luck and your adventure is well on its way. Board your plane, and again settle in to spend some time in your seat because, regardless of how long your flight is, you should expect to spend an hour and a half sitting on the runway of the airport you arrive at. It should be noted here that you should embark on your Alternative Airline Adventure™ during times of inclement weather. With luck, the cumulative two and a half hour delay that you have incurred will put you within a one to two minute window of arriving at your connection before the plane leaves the gate. Also, with luck, you will arrive at a gate that is in a separate building from where your plane is departing from. This will insure you will have the adrenaline rush of running to your gate without the slightest possibility of actually making your connection. It should also be noted here that your connection should be to a foreign country and that the foreign country should be your final destination.

With luck, you are now at the JFK airport at 11PM. Go to the help desk immediately. Since you sprinted to your *now* closed gate, you will be the only one at the gate. Remember you are on an Alternative Airport Adventure™ and laugh at all the jokes that the help desk employees make about you looking like a famous person. Remember you are in a New York airport and remember that your celebrity status is incognito and you are not allowed to disclose who you truly are. The help desk people will inform you that not only are there no available flights to your destination until three days later, but they, also due to your peculiar flight circumstances, are not able to provide hotel accommodations. Reflect on this publicly, but inwardly rejoice that you have comfortably secured a seat on the Alternative Airport Adventure™ !

At around 1AM God will reveal himself through the astounding, loving help of a Delta Employee, ensuring you that you have a spot on the 8PM flight leaving the next day, and you will be flying business class because that is the only option available. Also, this is on the most unique of circumstances because usually Delta will never upgrade anyone to first class… even if they have empty seats. It is exclusively and simply because of this phenomenal employee that this can happen. Your Alternative Airport Adventure™ Pass is now platinum status.

Conditional with your pass, since it is now 1:27AM, you will brush your teeth in the public bathroom with the motion sensor faucets and, also, use the restroom. You will then wander in building C of the JFK Delta airport. You will move from quiet floor to noisy, empty, cushioned seat-at-the-bar-area trying to sleep. You will be unsuccessful at sleep. You will write a little, read a little, explore a little, and then go to the bathroom again. You will then take a melatonin and fall into a feverish sleep at 3:00AM. You will wake up at 4:23AM, freezing and ecstatically on your very own Alternative Airport Adventure™. You will try to warm yourself up for the next hour and a half, and you will eventually do so, somehow. It will now be 5:50 AM and very agreeably “the next day.” As the golden era of “24 Hours in the JFK Airport” dawns, rub your hands anxiously and look at the menu of the breakfast place you are going to eat at.