As sit in the airport in Syracuse waiting for the flight that will take me to Florida for New Years I realize that it is a good thing that I like airports. In fact, I LOVE airports. In addition to holiday destinations, in the past 15 years, my work has taken me to Europe and Africa and I have logged hundreds of thousands of miles in planes of all sizes. I have spent more time in airports than Edward Snowden.
Although I can not get off a ladder onto a garage roof without feeling dizzy or panicked, I am a totally relaxed flyer. Once my bags are checked and I have my boarding pass, I love to sit and watch those little golf carts push planes out onto the tarmac or stroll through duty free shops or electronics shops. I have shopped more in airports than anywhere else. This trip, I don’t even have a boarding pass. All my information is on one if those little boxes of dots on my phone.
In the last 15 years I have spent time in airports in London, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Glasgow, Manchester, Shannon, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Split, Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, Venice, Barcelona, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Rome, Bologna, Milan, Brussels, Nairobi, Entebbe, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Mombasa, Kisumu, Minneapolis, Boston, Atlanta, Syracuse, Sarasota, Raleigh, New York, Tampa, St Petersburg, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Montreal, Thunder Bay, Halifax and Kingston.
Most of this travel has been by myself. But in airports you are never alone. I have slept overnight on a bench in YYZ with no one else around but the cleaners, been bitten by bedbugs in the Yotel in AMS and drunk champagne in the lounge in LHR. I can’t imagine how many times I have shown my passport, taken off my belt and shoes or how many hours I have stood in line. I have had flights delayed, cancelled and rebooked. I have ended up bumped to another flight because of a pilot strike and then found myself in the connecting airport in Munich without an onward ticket. I have waited on standby and have run through Heathrow with my bags and an Air Canada employee to get to a flight that was leaving immediately. I have stood with my nose against the glass at the departure area and watched as my flight pulled away from the gate. Last year in Barcelona I got a free night in the city and 500 euros when I gave up my seat in an overbooked flight. I have physically bumped into Pavarotti at a Duty Free shop. My baggage has been lost about half a dozen times but always shows up eventually. I have stopped trying to overcome jet lag. I just endure it. I have collected a lot of air miles. In fact, I paid for this trip to Florida with Skymiles and $10.40 in fees.
I am addicted to travel. I consider myself a global citizen. Before I get home from one trip I am already planning the next. I realize how lucky I have been to experience the world in this way and am also a little embarrassed about my carbon footprint. I rationalize that the work I did in Bosnia and continue to do in Africa is helpful to others.
My flight is being announced. On to the huge Atlanta airport and then to warm, friendly, Sarasota.