Recently I arrived at the Portland Airport in My Kinda Worst Nightmare. I was running a “bit” late. A “bit” late means walking through the door of the airport under 1 hour prior to boarding. Not takeoff. Boarding. One hour prior to boarding. Through the airport doors. Not parking. I married a man that likes to push this limit, and we came to an agreement in late 2010 that it is simply not worth my wrath to test this standard. This agreement was officially executed on the Red Bus heading into the airport after the entire family launched into a full run, through the snow, with luggage, just to get on the bus that barely got us in to begin the run through the entire airport just and make a flight that was luckily, delayed due to the aforementioned snow. One hour, heading into the door keeps us married and traveling together.
Airports are airports, but Portland’s airport is really special. Oregon has no sales tax, and PDX has no airport taxes. Everything costs the same at the airport and not at the airport. One love. One price. It’s Oregon law, Baby. The shops are actually pretty good and the food is rockin’. It’s fun to get there early, pick up a book, grab a pretty good meal, and enter the travel zone in chill mode.
This flight day had some serious lack of chill from the doorway. The teeming masses of travelers were at a dead standstill. Lines out the door. Frantic people standing still. Frantic people generally like frantic movement, so holding them still is a special kind of hell. The energy of worry, panic, frustration, fatigue, and a general lack of enthusiasm for travel hung in the air.
As the line inched forward and the clock ticked away, my window of grabbing a coffee and a great book began to close. Around the corner I could see that the security line was building and over spilling out of the little Disney-like setup that attempts to say “the line isn’t that long when you weave in and out and there’s some pictures of happy travelers so you won’t notice that the TSA is yelling at everyone” line markers. By the time I reached the ticket agent the window of making the flight was beginning to close. The frantic energy around me started picking up, stoking that fire that is panic, and I was feeding it back out.
That internal dialogue started.
Why me? Why today?
With so many people traveling, why can’t the airport get it right?
Those people got here after me? Why are they already done?
Why do people have to travel with so much crap? If everyone wasn’t hauling crap around and the gate agents didn’t have to check your crap, my crap and I would already be on the plane.
Well if I miss the flight, THEY will have to figure it out.
If I miss the flight I could reroute through Chicago and maybe get a hot dog. There are 2 flights that I didn’t pick that go through Chicago. Sure, I’m going to California from Oregon but a stop in Chicago would yield me a hot dog.
Why did I wear these shoes? I can’t run in them. They are hard to take off and put back on. And they are kind of ugly.
How much was this ticket? I am SO FLYING (insert other airline that has a shorter line) next time.
Seriously, this is why the airline industry is in trouble. They torture people like this! They need to show some respect. WE PAY THEIR SALARIES!
Feel free to insert your own inner dialogue here. You get it.
That’s when it’s time to pull out The Psychic Genius Travel Tips. That day I used all of them, and in fact met up with a woman in the security line who was on the same flight. I guided her through the whole process and when we boarded the plane together, I had made a new friend.
The Psychic Genius Airline Travel Tips
Every single person at the airport is putting their energy into getting you to wherever you intend to go. Airport staff may not be running. Or even appearing to rush. They may not look as committed as your frantic self would like them to look. But they are. Most of them are pretty smart and if you are nice they are pretty nice too. It also causes the airline staff an unbelievable amount of extra work if you don’t get on your flight. That alone is incentive enough for you to place your belief in their commitment and the commitment of all airlines flying that day.
Affirmation: The entire staff is committed to getting me to my destination safely. A smile makes it go faster.
Every bit of energy at the airport from the color choice of the carpet to the quality of paper towels is designed with the intention to get you to wherever you intend to go.
It may take longer than you think. It may not look like how you pictured it when you were folding your clothing and remembering to pack your toothbrush, but you will get there. Yes, it would be nice if there was a bathroom closer to your gate, but make the choice to beat feet over to the nearest one, or hold it until you get on the plane. Either way you still get to go and there are very few documented cases of you wetting your pants on an airplane.
Affirmation: The entire airport is designed with the intention to get me to my destination safely.
Security takes how long it takes. The rules change. People get confused. Everyone is nervous. And there’s the shoe question on everyone’s minds. Plus wondering if you accidentally put a knife or some beverage into whatever bag you are carrying on and you are going to get stopped, strip searched, and swabs will be taken of anything that can be swabbed. Don’t ADD to this energy swirling around by inviting these thoughts into your head. Spend your time trying to figure out if the guy in the airport-provided wheelchair or the family with 2 car seats and a stroller is a worse bet to follow in line. And of course celebrating your line choice when you are putting your shoes back on “first”.
Keep calm. Follow your breath. If you are truly, madly, and deeply close to your boarding time and you know that the plane is leaving on time then it’s time to help energy a little by kindly asking a few folks in line if you can go ahead. If you have done everything you can to get to the airport on time and some glitch has held you back, you will be pleasantly surprised at how many people will step aside to move you along. You may not get to the front of the line, but you’ll get ahead enough to get ON the flight. If your intention is clear, your heart is in the right place, and you have a smile that is a mere veneer concealing pure panic, the kindness of people will do the rest. ‘Cause we’ve all been there.
Affirmation: Other travelers will create space and time for me to reach the plane in time to board. Maybe not early. Maybe no bathroom stop. But on. Bless the TSA and all of their descendants.
The first person in the boarding line and the last person in the boarding line BOTH get to ride in a seat and go to the destination. Yes, it’s great to be early at the gate. And if you are a high achiever, being first feels pretty good. But the person who is last to the gate still gets to ride on the plane. You only need enough time to get to the gate before the door closes. The extra time is just…extra. It’s not like extra whipped cream, which is yummy and makes you feel special. It’s more time to wonder if your seatmate is the family with the curious and goldfish cracker covered toddler, or the semi-drunk guy packing 5 more drink coupons and a tin of Copenhagen for chewing and spitting for 4 hours. When you get to the gate and the door is open, even if the gate agent is yelling “Hurry, RUN!” then you are still on the flight. And see, everyone is pulling for you!
Affirmation: I have enough time to get to the gate and get buckled into my seat by the time the plane is ready to depart.
What if you miss the flight?
Keep your attention AWAY from this thought. Where attention goes energy flows. If you believe it you will see it. The power of putting your attention to missing the flight is more dangerous than any hazardous cargo on the airline checklist. Keep visualizing yourself on the original flight. In your seat, ready to go. Smiling. Not negotiating a new flight. Not getting pissy with the gate agent because you are in fear of missing whatever fun stuff you had planned at your destination. Not drunk in the bar telling other people what a shit day you have had. Keep your thought on you, in your seat, munching on all 7 of your peanuts from the pouch in one mouthful. Drinking your Diet Coke like a champ.
What if you DO miss the flight? Guess where the best place to get another flight is? The Airport! Look around. Many planes are taking off. Many planes are waiting to take off. Missing one flight does not mean that there are no more planes. If something goes haywire and you are unable to board your intended flight…you still get to go! And it might even be a better plane. With 9 peanuts in the pouch. And free drinks.
The Bonus Tip
I have traveled with nervous travelers and I am a recovering nervous traveler myself. Even when I got to the gate, got the coffee, scored that Chuck Palahniuk book that will make the flight pass in the blink of an eye, remembered my iPod and my noise canceling headphones, have gone to the bathroom, done a Facebook post documenting my intent to travel (in Portland we take a pic of the famous carpet), managed to NOT sit next to a kid playing a loud video game, and verified 400 times that I am at the correct gate at the correct time on the correct day…I still panic.
For me the root of the panic is fear. Fear over lack of control. Fear of the unknown. Sound familiar? Here’s how to solve that head game…
When you get on the plane your responsibility is about as close to zero as it every will be. The only thing required is that you fasten your seat belt when told and stay in your seat when told. Your biggest decision is what beverage to choose when the cart comes by. Even if you are in an emergency row, statistically your chance at having any additional responsibility is very low. Think about the rest of your life. When is the toughest choice you have to make is Coke or Diet Coke?
We get pulled on projects at work. Kids miss the bus and we have to pick them up. The cat barfs on an important paper (well, that’s my house). The garbage company sends you a notice that they are changing the recycling and no longer accept those plastic things that hold tomatoes and blueberries. You name it – most days we have a million responsibilities.
Not on the plane. These responsibilities are not available, even in coach. The flight attendants have never asked me if I can pitch in and hand out some peanuts. I have never had a captain stick his head out of the cockpit and say, “Mattern, I’m feeling pretty out of it. Mind taking us into LA?” The baggage handlers haven’t hopped on the PA and asked for volunteers to load the luggage, and the cleaning crew has yet to hang up a sign that says, “Please bus your own tables!”
So kick back, relax, and figure out that beverage. The airport gate staff, the TSA, the flight crew, and The Universe are all committed to getting you to your intended destination. This is your invitation to come on board mindfully.
Mad love to Southwest Airlines. The official airline of The Psychic Genius. And to Brad Watson from staggertoswagger.com for also loving Southwest and sharing his cool pic.