Read more Mad Dog on the Road!
||This is your pilot speaking
by Mad Dog
The good thing about flying is you get to where
you're going quickly. The bad thing is you have to go to airports to do it.
Traveling is a funny thing. Especially if you find humor in waking up
at 4:15 in the morning so you can catch a 6:00 flight, known in the trade as the red-eye
because your pilot got as little sleep as you did. It's easy to tell which one on the
plane is the pilot. He was the only guy left in the bar last night after you went home at
closing time. Besides, airplane passengers don't wear uniforms unless they're in the
military, and the odds are if more than two people on your flight are wearing uniforms
you're on the wrong plane and are about to be dropped over Serb held territory with a
Bosnian-English dictionary and a parachute, which will be the one time you'll be glad you
took the time to get flight insurance out of the vending machine at the airport instead of
spending money on another T-shirt which reads "My parents went to Jamaica and all I
got was this lousy T-shirt which was made and printed in China."
The good thing about flying is you get to where you're going quickly. The bad thing is you
have to go to airports to do it. I recently had the pleasure of spending time in five
airports while on vacation, four of them twice, and the similarities are more startling
than the differences. That's because there are so few differences.
Large airports have carts you can rent to carry your luggage called Smarte Cartes. Small
airports have rusty Safeway shopping carts with wobbly wheels.
|| Airports can be
divided into two categories: large and small. Large airports include O'Hare, National,
Atlanta and Miami. Small ones include Nassau, Teterboro and Richmond. While you may not
think it's important to recognize the difference, you, as a smart consumer, should be
alert. After all, you never know when someone will walk up to you in a crowded airport and
ask "Donde esta bano" and you should know that they don't, in fact, want to
borrow your Ban roll-on. So as a public service, here's how you can tell whether you're in
a large or a small airport:
- Large airports tend to occur in
the middle of your trip; small airports are usually at the beginning and the end.
- If you have to wait a long time for your flight you're
probably in a large airport. Unless you showed up at 6:45 am for a 1:22 pm flight.
- Large airport walkways are full of empty, beeping open-air
buses that try to run you down as you break the 4-minute mile going from one end of
Terminal B to the far end of Terminal Q so you can reach your connecting flight six
minutes after it left. Small airports only have one departure gate.
- Large airports have carts you can rent to carry your luggage
called Smarte Cartes. Small airports have rusty Safeway shopping carts with wobbly wheels.
- Large airports have a slew of baggage carousels so you can
get your daily exercise by running from one to the other looking for the baggage from
flight 666. Small airports have rusty Safeway shopping carts with wobbly wheels.
- Your bigger airports have escalators to take from one level
to the next, moving sidewalks to whisk you from one end of a terminal to the other and
trams to transport you from Terminal A, which is in Dallas county, to Terminal B, which is
in New Mexico. Small airports might have stairs.
- At a large airport you have a choice of places to eat,
ranging from local specialties to virtually any type of fast food you can think of. At a
small airport you can buy the hot dogs Delta's flight 432 didn't get around to eating.
At large airports you'll see people from
all around the world wearing colorful clothes and speaking strange, romantic languages. At
small airports the people wear clothes purchased as a Blue Light Special and say
Newsstands in large airports carry newspapers and magazines from around the world in a
multitude of languages. In small airports they only carry newspapers with the word
"Gazette" in the title.
- Large airports have baggage
rooms where you can check your bags and spend your 7-hour layover safe in the knowledge
that an armed attendant is keeping a watchful eye on them. At a small airport a guy in a
Beavis and Butt-head T-shirt takes your bag while you're trying to decide which newspaper
with the word "Gazette"in the title you want to buy and he doesn't even give you
a claim check for it.
- At large airports you can while away the time until they
find a plane with two working engines by jumping on a train, going downtown and grabbing a
quick meal at one of the same fast food restaurants that were in the airport. At a small
airport they hand you a wrench and a service manual and ask if you can find the
- At large airports you'll see people from all around the
world wearing colorful clothes and speaking strange, romantic languages. At small airports
the people wear clothes purchased as a Blue Light Special and say "Yup" alot.
- And finally, gift shops in large airports carry T-shirts
that say things like "My parents went to Los Angeles and all I got was this lousy
T-shirt that was made and printed in China", while in small airports you'll find
shirts that say "My parents went to Lodi and all I got was this lousy T-shirt that
was made and printed in China".
Now you know everything the well seasoned traveler knows about
airports and you didn't have to listen to the first "B-bye" from a flight
attendant to do it. Don't thank me now, wait until the next time you're sitting in
Laguardia Airport with a numb butt wishing USAir gave out Frequent Frustration Miles for
all the time you spent sitting around airports. Large and small.
©1995 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. They
can usually be found at airports.