It’s in the Airports

I recently posted about my crazy travel schedule lately. Such a pace has seen me in as many airports as I have been cities, and I’m fascinated by every one of them.

The basics are the same: arrivals, departures, check-in, security, food court, restrooms, gates.

But every one of them, whether you’re in London or Los Angeles or Chicago, is also rife with nuances and quirks that you might never know if you’re just passing through. From weather the wifi is free or not, or where the best bathroom is, or where to get a decent bite to eat (read: not sad airport food).

My horrible luck with New York City’s airports is well documented (and not so well documented – I haven’t blogged about my near-miss before my interview in Chicago). If I’m being completely honest (and why wouldn’t I be?), I hated traveling through New York. The three airports were like Goldilocks’ porridge, except none of them were ever just right. Lines too long, too hard to get to, delays and delays. The most reliable way to get to the airport was a cab or Uber, but depending on where I was coming from, that could cost just as much as the plane ticket! (OK, maybe not, but it felt like it…).

And then there’s Chicago.

Perhaps it’s nostalgia. Perhaps it’s familiarity. Perhaps it’s sheer blindness, but I love flying through Chicago. O’Hare, Midway, doesn’t matter. I know where I’m headed, I know what I’m getting into and I know I’ll get there and back in one piece. That’s not to say I’ve never been delayed out of Chicago. Of course I have. It’s just not as soul-crushing as trouble traveling through New York ever was. Delays are because of things like forces of nature, not because a train between terminals decides to go backwards just before it reaches your destination.

And even when there are issues getting out of town, in some small way the fact that I’m traveling via the airports I’ve been using since I was a kid makes it all easier to bear. It’s just one of the many unexpected but welcome differences I’ve found since making the move home, a small thing but one that makes it all the more lovely to be back.