Fly the Day Before

If you’ve ever had to fly somewhere the day before Thanksgiving, you know that the reports are true. Airports are jammed, flights are delayed, and believe me, people aren’t ‘giving thanks’. If you can manage it, my advice would be to fly two days before the holiday.

Arriving at Philadelphia International Airport yesterday around 1:00 PM, I walked right up to the Continental ticket counter and looked around at the other carriers – there just wasn’t that many travellers. I waited in the security line for about 20 minutes, but that was due to the TSA only operating one metal detector. If they had a couple of others running, the wait would have been negligible.

My flight from Philly to Houston was full, and our departure was only about 30 minutes late. Given the difficult weather in the Tri-State area, I was expecting to sit at the gate longer. I landed in Houston around 6:30 or so, and the travel load at Bush International was light. My flight to Seattle had empty seats all over the plane, and I was lucky enough to snag an exit row seat. The extra leg room made the 4 hour flight seem like 2.

The only problem in Seattle was fog. Not the hazy, “I can still see pretty well” kind, but the pea soup kind. It’s incredible how precise airline navigation systems are these days. Descending into Seattle was an eerie experience. The lights of city glowed through the thick blanket of cloud. Looking out the window, I couldn’t have known where we were. The buildings, streets and the busy sea-port were invisible. All I knew is, we were drifting through the air, falling lower and lower with every second that ticked by. It got really wild when we penetrated the foggy mist. The plane was swallowed up, and no one could know how far we were from the ground. Down, down, down…and suddenly, there they were – the runway lights – only about 100 feet below us. The plane landed in a very normal way, just like it does on a clear night with unlimited visibility. No big deal. The first word that came to my mind was, ‘amazing’.

As I exited the plane, I saw the pilot and said, “nice landing”. The guy smiled and replied, “I can’t wait to do it again”.

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