I broke a sweat, but I made it

I’ve made it to my hotel in Chicago, but it wasn’t without a little stress along the way.

Saturday afternoon I made the decision to have a cab come and pick me up at home around 10:30a for my 12:20p flight. I figured that an hour and a half should be enough time at the airport to check my bags (I already had my boarding pass), go thru security, get lunch, and board my flight. My cab ride was fine and it got me to the airport at the time I thought it would. However, when I entered the airport it looked like a zoo.

My first thought was “Thank God I printed my boarding pass”. The line to print out a boarding pass looked at least 45 minutes long and it was wrapped out the door the the departure drop off. So, I headed to the line for folks who had their boarding pass, but needed to check in their bags. I had one bag to check since I’ll be gone a few days short of two weeks. I got in the line thinking I’m in good shape since there were only two people in font of me. But, this line quickly caused me to panic.

There were two kiosks that were available for people to check in their bags with. When I arrived, they were both occupied. One with an older couple and another couple who looked like they had no idea what they were doing (I saw them start over at least five times). As 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes passed, they didn’t have their bags checked. They were still trying to figure out how to work those kiosks. This was driving me nuts, since I knew that I had very little time to waste. Finally the older couple gets their bags checked and the first person in line goes ahead. He is in and out in a matter of minutes. The next fellow in line goes up. He looks to be just out of high school, or in the early stages of college. Even he can’t figure out the kiosk.

Luckily, a NWA rep ushered me to another machine and I get my stuff taken care of. My total time spent using the machine, maybe two minutes. I even got the chance to change my seat to an exit row. But, even with that good news, I have to stand there and wait 5 more minutes because the woman manning the two kiosks at her station can’t multi task. She is too pre occupied with a pending credit card transaction for an overweight bag to put my one tag on my one bag and let me go. So, I stand there, ask her politely if she can help me as I only have one bag and my boarding time is quickly approaching, she acknowledges me, and continues to wait for the credit card transaction to complete.

After I get my bag checked, I make my way to security. At this time It is around 11:25a and boarding for my flight starts at 11:40a with a 12:20p departure time. I overhear someone ask how long the line takes and the agent says about 30 minutes. I start sweating bullets and ask if there is anything she can do to help me since the line is so long. In more or less words she says no and I walk away before she finishes, since I’m going to end up back in line anyways. I knew asking was a long shot, but I figured what the hell.

Watching time tick by I finally get through security and I begin to book it to the tram that leads to the S gates. I’m the last one to make it on the tram and I have a little bit of time to catch my breath and put by laptop back into my bag. Because, once I got my shoes back on, I grabbed all of my stuff and ran.

Once the tram made it to the S gates, I booked it up the long ass flight escalators and ran to the gate. I arrived as I heard “final boarding” from the gate agent. I hand her my ticked and I’m in. At this point I am sweating and thinking I need food and water, but I’ll have to wait for the cart service and one of those $5 box lunches. But, as I enter the main cabin, it might as well have been a sauna. So, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that I wasn’t baking sitting on the plane. Apparently, one of the APUs that starts up the engines, which lets the plane be cool, was busted and they needed an electrical truck for assistance starting the plane. No worries, I’m already sweaty.

Finally, the engines turn on, cold air hits my face and I can relax in my exit row seat. All is well.

The rest of my trip was thankfully way less uneventful and now I’m at my hotel room trying to see if I can get to sleep at a reasonable hour for tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.