Lineups are inevitable when you travel.
Lineups for ticketing. Lineups for customs and security. Lineups to get on and off the plane.
Lineups are the worst part of travel.
If only teleportation were a reality!
Ah, but on the first leg of my flight to Kauai the lineups held special moments and special people to make the whole experience worthwhile.
It is possible to survive airports with a smile.
A Flash Club of Pleasant but Disgruntled Customers
We were a surprisingly calm group of people for 5:45am. Standing in line at the American Airlines customer service counter and seeing only two of the six stations with attendants, no one was pleased. The line kept growing and yet no more staff arrived. Then, as all of us looked on with disbelief, one person went around the line and directly to a counter with an agent. I don't think he knew what he was doing and he had his ticket in the hands of the customer service rep before anyone in line could say anything.
We looked at each other. Disbelief! A few grunts but also stoic smiles. And on reflection, I love the response. Are we Canadians really that polite? Apparently, yes. We had jelled into a flash club of disgruntled customers who chose to be pleasant.
A Little Love from the Customs Agent
People flying from Toronto to the US go through US Customs and Border Protection in the Toronto airport rather than at the other end. It's typically the worst line and I've been meaning to get a Nexus pass to avoid it but just haven't got around to it yet. So I braced myself.
However, in front of me was a woman in her seventies going to Florida – without her husband. It is because of the linesups, she explained, that her husband doesn't travel. We chatted which naturally made the line move faster.
But that's not the best part. When I reached the customs officer he was pleasant. I mean really pleasant. He wanted to know where I was going and for how long and he seemed truly interested. It wasn't just to tick off boxes on a form. And when I was leaving his desk he said “… thanks, love you, you'll have a blast.”
I was stunned. I memorized the line and had it tweeted before passing security. That's something that can't be beat. That kind of attitude can help anyone survive airports in a better mood.
Fun at Airport Security?
There's not much fun in taking off your shoes and coat and getting your liquids and laptop out of your bag and putting them all on a conveyor and being screened by a machine… unless you have Kelly as the person behind the conveyor.
Riding the wave of goodwill gathered at customs I arrived in security, saw Kelly's name tag and gave her a big personal hello. She responded with an equally big smile. And at 6:30am we got a little banter going that, I believe, raised the spirits at least some of the people behind me in line.
It is Possible to Survive Airports with a Smile
Was it something in the water that day?
It was, I admit, an exceptional morning. I don't usually enjoy the time I spend lining up at airports – which I do a lot. But it is such a good lesson for travel and for life.
A smile and some positive energy can make just about any experience a pleasure.