Most seasoned business travelers believe they approach the airport in the way a zookeeper would approach a large predator: with cool, yet cautious confidence.
Successfully negotiating lines, juggling flights, knowing which food court has the best Chinese—it’s all second nature.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the airport can disrupt even the most seasoned Zen-traveler’s chi. The following three true stories relate just how badly a business trip can go and offer tips on how to avoid the dreaded phrase, "Sorry, but it’s out of our hands."
After loyally and uneventfully flying a well-known airline for decades, comedian Jim Dailakis began to wonder if his friends’ horror stories about flying on that same air service were more myth than reality.
One afternoon, he arrived at JFK Airport for a short flight to Syracuse and received a text message that his flight was delayed by an hour. Dailakis prepared to bide his time when a second text message came in. Now his gate had changed. Then a third text message: The flight was delayed further. Then he received another alert… and another….
Dailakis notes, "At one point, I swear Leslie Nielsen was going to saunter out and tell us that we shouldn’t worry, because this is just a joke and we’re all part of the hilarious upcoming sequel to Airplane."
As the plane departed late that night with no Leslie Nielsen in sight, he thought how he’d given up the comfort and reliability of Amtrak. "The irony is that I cancelled my ticket because I didn’t want to spend five hours to get to Syracuse from New York."
He later cancelled his airline-issued American Express credit card.
Author Barry Maher flew from California to Virginia to give a presentation on what would turn out to be an ironic topic: customer service. Arriving at his destination, he experienced a sinking feeling as he stared longingly at the luggage carousel’s conveyor belt, willing it to please have one more bag.
Of course, Maher’s bag was a no-show.
When he returned to California, Maher explains, "The bags were missing yet again. I was amazed. I went to the baggage office and the clerk said the airline wouldn’t pay a damage claim unless I could produce the books, so they could verify the damage."
This was an infuriating demand, considering the airline was behind the reason why Maher couldn’t show them the books. Finally, the clerk noted triumphantly that if the books were truly ruined, it didn’t matter that the airline had lost them in the first place.
Around 11 a.m. on a Sunday, Cheryl Freer of Gateway Creative Services had just completed the corner-to-corner journey from Rochester, New York, to Los Angeles without a hitch. She left the airport with her roller bag and headed for the rental car lot. Her mind began to swim with mental checklists in preparation for her meetings the next morning.
As Freer hurried to catch the bus, her roller-bag’s wheel caught a rock and tripped her up. She tried to regain her footing but fell and slammed her knee on the concrete.
Freer cancelled her meetings immediately, booked the first flight home and proceeded to navigate through two airports with her knee wrapped only in an Ace bandage.
Yet the ultimate irony was waiting at home: "By the time I reached home, I had been traveling with no sleep and lots of pain for about 26 hours. As my husband and I walked into the house, the telephone rang. It was the Los Angeles hospital calling to tell me that I had fractured my leg," says Freer.
By Caleb Garling