Have you ever listened to some of the questions people ask at the airport?
I am not talking about the ordinary ones, of course it is reasonable to be curious about the reason for delays; weather, mechanical, the arrival of Air Force One.
It is the following question, always asked while they are looking at an empty gate with no plane in sight, door to the jetway closed, flight scheduled and posted to leave 3 hours from that moment, that make me fear the path of human evolution.
“Have you started boarding?”
Every person that has ever worked an airline gate is so tempted to come up with some answer other than the polite, yet so obvious,”No not yet, we will start about 20 minutes before departure time, which is in two hours and thirty minutes.”
What they would love to say is….
“Hmm, generally we like to wait for the plane. We experimented with pre-boarding prior to the arrival of the aircraft but the Captains kept complaining about the speed bumps on the J-line created by the passengers falling out of the jetway.”
“The plane is in fact there but we are having a problem turning off the cloaking device. We could board but with this particular Aircraft the defect in the cloaking unit is specific to an area onboard. If a passenger were to use the rear lavatory, while the aircraft was still on the ground, well, the passenger, and just the passenger, becomes visible. We found it unnerved the other passengers that might see that. So we have to get that fixed first”.
The other favorite question is when a passenger approaches the counter, and in the interest of full disclosure it is generally a male, puts their connecting boarding pass for LAX from Chicago Midway on the counter and announces “If I leave Chicago at 2:00pm how can I get to LAX at 4:30PM when it’s a four hour flight?”. As if to announce they have discovered a flaw in Einstein’s theory of relativity or the universal limit, the speed of light.
So the agent smiles and says “The arrival times are local times and there is a time difference between the cities”
What they’d really like to do is look around conspiratorially, motion the passenger to come closer, once again make sure no one else is listening, and say “Shhh, don’t share this with anyone, there really is a wrinkle in time and we found it, saves us so much fuel we don’t have to charge for bags”
Most of the questions people ask are more a reflection of an unfamiliarity or nervousness about flying. They want to be reassured. I love making sure everyone who flies with us has a great trip.
But the next time you are at the airport, and you see someone walk up to the counter, speak to the agents at the desk, see the agents turn around and look at the empty gate, missing an airplane, you will know exactly what they are thinking.