March 27, 2015
My mother now texts me at least 58 times in the hour leading up to my flight’s departure: “Are you wearing a bra? Where are you? Your chargers! Have you left yet? Sara, this is mom.” Sure, her very consistent texting flow might be due to my previous flying record, which potentially consists of more missed flights than made flights, but who counts those kinds of things? You’d think that traveling a lot would mean I have my act together when it comes to flying, and I’d definitely think that too. I suppose I’m convinced that a plane can’t leave exactly at the time on the ticket, or the gates must stay open for a few minutes longer, plus boarding is usually late, or sometimes the plane isn’t even there, and there’s just no way I want to be waiting around stuck in an airport for hours before my flight. You’d also think that traumatizing experiences would’ve modified my behavior long ago, but it wasn’t until these last two, most recent mishaps that I’ve learned how to never miss a flight.
The first mishap occurred the morning after I threw a fantastic going away party for myself on a roof in Brooklyn. I know, I know, I should’ve known. In a nonfunctional state, I woke up the next morning in panic, for I missed not one, but two flights considering my route. It really could’ve been anything that caused me to misinterpret the customer service rep on the phone, but it’s still a little shocking that I joyfully headed to the airport under the impression that I had a direct flight to San Francisco the same day at no extra cost. Ignorance was bliss until I broke down at the check-in counter. Well, obviously I had to pay full price for a new flight leaving the following morning. With over 12 hours until my flight, I decided the only way not to miss this flight was to stay and sleep in the airport. For 12 hours. My apartment was a 30 min subway ride away. Fortunately, this time gave me the opportunity to make a very special, 5 foot, airport employee friend who drove me around to showcase the facility’s quietest and darkest sleeping spots. Although I didn’t get the best sleep because I could’ve sworn Amil was spying on me the whole time, I made that flight and I even got to choose a window seat.
The second mishap was 6 months ago, however, I still have nightmares. I hate to say it, but there were times in my earlier career of missing flights when I was careless that it happened. Back in 2008, everything seemed to work out okay, and if I remember correctly, I never had to pay. I’m telling you, bliss. Things are different now. The end of my lucrative career came after my 3-week travels through Vietnam and Cambodia. Again, because I was on the island Phu Quoc, I had 2 flights to get me home. Again, I missed them both. There’s not a single good approach of tackling this one, so with that said, I got to the airport about 15 minutes before my flight and, no matter how I asked to be let through what seem to be the most exclusive gates on planet Earth, the answer was the same, “No.” The trouble with this situation was that I was traveling in a foreign country, living in a foreign country, had to work the next day, and was bankrupt. Every time I missed a flight it was dramatic, this time I was scared for my life. Thank you, mom and dad, for siblings.
Since this last one, I’ve flown 3 times, domestic and international, and I’m proud to say that I’ve got it down. Wanna know how to never miss a flight? The trick lies in tricking yourself – so meta. For instance, in regards to my recent flight from Beijing to Guangzhou, I tricked myself into thinking my flight was the day before it actually was. This allowed me ample time to download 10 movies for my 3-hour flight and to eat an entire Peking duck. When airport attendants asked if I needed a hotel room, I defensively declined because I was clearly making a home underneath the escalators. Some of you might understandably think this is too early. Another option is to trick yourself into not sleeping for the 2 days prior to your flight, which ensures you don’t miss that alarm. I did this for my flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco a few months ago, arrived at the airport 6 hours early, and was so delirious for my 14-hour flight that I could barely say my name at check-in. It was perfect.
In all seriousness, this method works. It can even be adapted to other aspects of life, such as tricking yourself into exercising. Funny thing is, once you learn how to trick yourself into doing things you’re supposed to do as an adult, you gradually become one, and then these things are second nature.
Safe travels, babies.