Roadtrip - Our Take on Travel via Airports

 
Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?
— Erma Bombeck
 

When you’re having a bad day, and someone tells you to think of something that makes you happy, there probably isn’t a person in the world that envisions any sort of airport. You might picture arriving at your Hawaiian destination, or dropping off your mother-in-law at the check-in line, but airports themselves? No. 

Airports, for most of us, are like going to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned, or like going to the auto shop to get your tires rotated. It kind of ruins the day in general, but it’s something that has to be done to get a worthwhile result. Sure, you don’t need the cramped seats, the obnoxious person near you, or the inexplicable people who jump up and stand in the aisle the moment the plane comes to a stop. The security lines, the airplane food, the gates that just got changed — who needs them? And what about those 12-minute dashes to make your connecting flight?

There’s really only one philosophy that works. If you have to fly somewhere, whether for work or pleasure, just shrug it off as an Airport Day. It won’t be perfect, it will be long, you’ll look at your watch about three hundred times, and you barely want to think about the rental car or courtesy van at the end of your journey. It’s an Airport Day. Buy a Cinnabon, open a book that you’re too distracted to get into, and wonder why you didn’t download a movie worth watching.

 
Whoever said life was about the journey never took an airplane.
 
 
 
 

Relaxing at the Boise Airport

You don’t even have to go to the Boise Airport to brag about it. Did you know it recently received not one, but two, awards? That’s right. For 2018, our Boise Airport was named the No. 2 Most Relaxing Airport in the country. It also received the second-best rating for canceled flights. Less than a half a percent in 2018. Not bad. In 2016, the airport received several Excellence in Airport Concessions awards. Still not bad.

And here’s one more Boise Airport tidbit: it has the second-highest concentration of public art of any public facility in the state of Idaho. I’m feeling relaxed already. Now if we could just get a direct flight to the East Coast…

 
 
 

Jeston

Jeston is definitely a seasoned traveler. He’s been in about 50 different airports across 10 different countries. He totally gets the whole Airport Day concept. “Get as much sleep as possible. No matter how many flights, I am always exhausted after a day of travel. I primarily listen to podcasts and read. Somethings I watch movies. I also really enjoy taking photos out the window.” 

He also has a plan for those layover hours, so if you do a lot of traveling, it’s not a bad idea to look carefully at which credit cards might have something beneficial to offer to travelers. “I’m really lucky. One of my credit cards grants me access to the Delta Sky Club, so I sit and eat too many cookies and drink too much coffee, even on short layovers.”

Favorite airports?

“Hmmm this is tough. I’m a big fan of Seattle-Tacoma (SEA). It’s modern and mostly pretty clean (especially the A terminal) and isn’t too cramped. Minneapolis (MSP) is also great, because there are little nooks to relax in that get you away from the crowded public areas. Raleigh-Durham (RDU) used to be my home airport, and it has fantastic architecture. It’s open, not too loud and has plenty of seating.”

Least favorite?

“This is going to be a cliché, but… Atlanta (ATL) is one of my least favorite airports. I’m so happy there are international flights out of Seattle. Atlants is everything I dislike about an airport — crowded, loud, smelly, and it feels really old.”

And an airport story

“A couple months ago, I was heading out of Boise on the 5:30 a.m. to Minneapolis. I was noticeably lacking in sleep, having gotten up at 3:30… maybe 3:45… or 4. (Sometimes my alarm isn’t effective that early in the morning.) I grabbed my bags, threw everything in the car and headed to the airport. I got a REALLY nice parking spot, got inside and suddenly realized, I forgot… my… phone. Traveling to another city without a phone for work nowadays, I would’ve essentially been operating without a limb. I made a snap judgement, ran my bags upstairs, checked them in, then ran back to my car. Luckily, I only live about 10 minutes from the airport. (That trip was probably closer to 7 minutes.) It was also good fortune that I knew exactly where my phone was (still plugged in). I got home, ran inside (keys still in the car), grabbed my phone, and drove as quickly as possible back to the airport. Somehow, I found an equally good parking spot, and sprinted as fast as my legs would carry me through the airport. (Thank you, TSA PreCheck!) They were calling my name when I arrived, and I’m almost 100 percent sure I was the last person on the plane.”

My advice

“Don’t forget your phone in this day and age.”


Erica

Erica has seen a few airports in her day. While some people’s take on airports is to just get through the day, she actually likes exploring them, getting some exercise and finding the occasional treasure.

“I get bored in the ‘Clubs.’ I never use my Admiral Pass unless I have to get work done. The Captain Chairs with personal plugs and tables are nice, but the food is always the same, and the coffee is just coffee. I even tried the Delta Sky club a few times. They are all the same.”

“My favorite preboard airport food is chia pudding (any flavor) and a green tea matcha. The best can be found, in this order: San Francisco, Seattle and O’Hare in Chicago. Houston airport smells so good; it has the best BBQ and a NASA store. And lately, I’ve been judging airports on how easy it is to get a rideshare. Chicago wins again! Go Cubs! :)”

Favorite airports?

  • O'Hare International Airport (ORD). The art in this airport makes me want a layover; even the walkways are beautiful! Check out HOYPOLOI GALLERY Terminal 1, Concourse B, Gate B6; and Terminal 1, Concourse E, Gate E3.

  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP). Brand new and beautiful, and it has a Prince retail store with books, clothing, albums and more in Terminal 1, MSP Mall, at the entrance to Concourse G.

  • Palm Springs International Airport, formerly Palm Springs Municipal Airport. It is open-air and comfortable, and I don’t feel like I’m in an airport. It’s special and brings a smile to my face.

Least favorite?

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport. It’s dirty and old.

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. You have to go in and out of checkpoints to get to good food and other terminals.

  • Salt Lake City International Airport. It is boring. I just started flying Delta and, as far as I can tell, both United and Delta terminals are equally boring and worthy of utilizing the club pass.

And an airport story?

Like a lot of travelers, getting Erica to narrow it down to just one airport story can be a chore. She picked this one on a trip to Madrid, Spain, doing research for the Volar the Flamenco documentary. While she usually travels alone, this time it was part research and part vacation with her husband, as they celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary.

“We arrived at the airport with plenty of time, or so we thought… As we were checking in, we were informed our flight had been bumped up by an hour. Now the fun began. The terminal is a long way away from the check-in. She looked at us with a concerned look and said, ‘RUN.’ 

We went down two escalators and up another two to get on a 10-minute train ride to the terminals. THEN we were directed to an ID checkpoint … and funneled through a shopping mall! I could see my husband up in front, roller bag free-bobbing and weaving through people and dodging perfume girls. I, however, looked left then right, and right into a spray of perfume that instantly took my breath away. Ack.

“Sweaty and unable to catch my breath, I pushed on into yet another ID check into the terminal with our departing flight. Looking for my gate, I realized it was indeed the very last gate down what seemed to be half a mile away!

“Amazingly, we made it! We fell into line just as the plane was boarding! Settling into the cozy seats on Iberia Airlines, we looked at each other, laughing and swapping our individual tales of success!”

My advice

“Get a good pair of comfortable headphones and bring something you know will help ease stress. I used to be terrified of flying, so for a year I traveled with a coloring book to calm me. I don’t panic during take-off now, and turbulence doesn’t rattle me anymore.”

 
I love airports because funny things always happen at them. They’re giant complexes full of urgency, seriousness and confusion. Where am I supposed to be? Which way do I go? And that’s just the staff.
— Rhys Darby, actor & comedian
 

COMING NEXT WEDNESDAY

OCT. 30: 

Don’t Fake It — Why Your Resume Needs to Be Accurate

Dan Parnell

‘Dusty’ Dan Parnell has worked in radio, television and newspaper in the Treasure Valley for more than 30 years. He’s been a deejay, a newspaper editor and a live sports cameraman, in addition to a few other inexplicable talents.