The Early Arriver
Plenty of Time
That Onion story about the dad who wants to get to the airport 14 hours early kills me every time. It makes more sense to me every year and pretty soon I’ll be allocating the extra hour for traffic in addition to the other extra hour for unforeseen events. If you are meeting somebody in public then be on time, if you are arriving to a party you can be politely, slightly late, and if you are going to the airport then for the love of God get there well in advance.
A friend and I were going to be on the same flight and would be leaving the same neighborhood in LA. I asked if she wanted to head to the airport together and she laughed and said I couldn’t handle her approach. Her rule was simple: She liked to be the last person to board. She told stories of having to get gas on the way to the airport when her flight was taking off in half an hour. I was mortified and we met the next day. Her seat was next to mine and was empty until just before they closed the door. Then she calmly walked in and sat down. I was more nervous than she was. That was ten years ago and I’ve only gotten worse.
My sister is a notorious late airport arriver and just hearing her make plans makes me nervous. I do not understand the idea of getting to the airport with as little time as possible before the flight. A responsible adult does not arrive at a major airport an hour before a flight—are you trying to give me a heart attack?!
What does a responsible adult do? He tries to give himself enough time that he is unhurried, unworried, unburdened with concern. Traffic en route to JFK? He’s unruffled. Chaos in the terminal? He’s above the fray. Amateur hour at security? He sighs wistfully. The downside of this, of course, is that I get to the airport too far in advance. That’s why they invented lounges and noise-cancelling headphones.
It’s true that the lounge attracts one of the less appealing examples of the modern male: The very public taker of meetings. This is the man who treats the lounge as an extension of his office and is often found pacing around as if there are not dozens of strangers in earshot. Pease don’t do this. And I know you know better than to conduct full volume FaceTime calls with loved ones. For some reason this also happens a lot at airports.
Still, a little strategic arrangement you can find you reading, catching up on Succession or reaching Genius-level in the Spelling Bee with a minimum of interference. If you’ve checked a bag then you might find the boarding process stress-free as well. You are the one who doesn’t feel the pressure. And the fact that you’re in JFK three hours early is a small price to pay. To be safe, let’s say four hours.
I’m not scared of the person who shows up to the airport late. I’m scared of the person who arrives late to the airport and is calm.
I like to leave just enough time to have a beer before boarding. Maybe like an hour or so!