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Tripping out


Judith Murphy April 24th, 2008

With the recent rash of flight cancellations by airlines suddenly inspecting planes, an increasing number of frustrated travelers may have been finding themselves with too many hours to kill. First, ...

With the recent rash of flight cancellations by airlines suddenly inspecting planes, an increasing number of frustrated travelers may have been finding themselves with too many hours to kill.

First, of course, they probably must stand in a long, slow-moving line to find out whatever it is that they're supposed to do to get booked on another flight to their destination. That next flight isn't likely to be immediate, though, so a lengthy wait ensues. Large airports offer options that aren't available in smaller ones. For example, the vast Denver International Airport sports several levels, with a variety of restaurants and shops outside the security area. Here, in Oklahoma City, most of the amenities are beyond the security gate.

Apart from the airline ticket counters and arrival/departure screens, the main lobby in OKC consists of a couple of small newsstands with magazines, candy, snacks and souvenirs; a coffee and fruit juice bar; a hospitality desk, where you can obtain a map of the airport to see what's available in the places you cannot go; a tiny metal rack that displays publications from the Transportation Security Administration; and not enough places to sit.

You must kill time, because killing the airline executives who have left you in this plight is illegal and inadvisable, and they're hundreds of miles away in comfy corporate headquarters, anyway. So, consider these options for entertainment while milling around:

·         Treat yourself to a smoothie. The strawberry-orange ones are excellent. If you prefer a warm beverage, a good cappuccino warms the soul.

·         Read those TSA tracts from the revolving stand. You will find information as well as possible entertainment. I was particularly enchanted with the publication about taking crematory ashes along on your flight. (Summary: It's OK to bring Uncle Charlie's ashes in your carry-on, but forget the heavy metal urn. Put the ashes in a wooden or plastic container that can be x-rayed.) I was looking for an information sheet that included instructions for traveling with a monkey, but I couldn't find one. (That's not a TSA joke, since some people who have disabilities use monkeys as service animals. Keep it diapered and on a leash.)

·         Buy a magazine you didn't know existed about a subject to which you're indifferent. For example, if you're a woman over 80, look for a magazine about tattooing or body piercing. The expressions on strangers' faces as they see you browsing through the pages will be worth the price of the publication.

·         People-watch. Make fun of those who deserve it, but keep quiet about it. It's one thing to be inwardly snarky. It's quite another to be outwardly rude. Besides, after a couple of hours, you're looking rather odd yourself.

·         Sing. Dance. Let go of your inhibitions. You may make some people smile while you're having a good time, and if you make a fool of yourself, what the heck. You probably won't ever see any of your fellow travelers again. On the other hand, if a security officer asks you to shut up, perhaps you should do so. Immediately.

Eventually, your travel will resume, presumably in greater safety than might previously have been the case. You may be tired and cranky, but your wait is over. Have a great trip.

Murphy is a freelancer living in Norman.

 
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