Check Your Baggage

You can feel the anxiety, a palpable clench around your windpipe, actual pressure indenting the bones and cartilage of your chest.

Must. Get. In. Line.

As soon as anyone passably resembling an airline gate agent arrives at the gate’s desk, the eager elbow themselves into a semi-chaotic line. The First Class passengers, mind you. The ones who have the best seats and guaranteed overhead storage. They generate a fear tsunami—that palpable gush of anxiety that soaks everyone in the terminal—and soon the entire gate is swarmed by folks trying to angle a better position on the plane.

As a regular business traveler, I have worked hard to understand why on earth a person would want to spend more time on an airplane than necessary. We who are about to embark on a multi-hour flight already have our seats. What’s the rush to plant ourselves into those overpriced back-and-butt torture devices?

Over-head storage. And good ol’ American competition.

That’s it. The rabid anxiety, the 40-plus minutes to board and the 25-plus minutes to deplane, the obnoxious line-blocking behavior. All caused by your fellow traveler who wants to get there before you and who wants to steal your precious overhead storage space.

This annoys me. This annoys me a lot.

I hope that airlines have conducted a cost analysis of the inefficiencies caused by carry-on luggage (we know there’s no cure for the jackass competition). If airlines provided free checked luggage, couldn’t we board faster? Couldn’t we deplane so much more quickly? Couldn’t the airline then offer more flights in a given day and make even more money?

I’ve tried to apply my nascent mindfulness skills to this situation. I try to acknowledge how annoyed I am by this, sit with my annoyance, and wait for it to pass while my running mental commentary does not stop - the airlines are stupid for causing this; people are stupid for feeding this.

Everything and everyone is stupid, stupid, stupid.

Alas, there is no solution. This is the reality of air travel. This inefficient and degrading situation is what it is. I can choose to struggle against it, or I can choose to accept what ultimately isn’t going to change.

Or…I can take part in the competition and push to get to my seat before you do.