It was nearly a perfect moment. I had been racing through the traffic of Boston on a rainy day, slowed by accidents, nervous about catching my flight. I had fretted as I waited for the rental car shuffle to get to the right terminal. I was stopped in security to explain my I was carrying a cylindrical metal object in my suitcase (a microphone). But now I had arrived at my gate 10 minutes before my flight was scheduled to depart. It was a nearly perfect moment. There was an airplane at the jet bridge but… no one was at the gate and the door was closed. The plane was still there, but I had missed it.
If you have never missed a flight, let me give you some tips on how to do it.
Tip 1: be uncertain of your departure time
I have a lot of plans for various flights that I have scheduled and I forgot what time this flight was departing until I received a reminder to my phone.
Yes, I missed the flight to my daughter’s wedding. I had booked the flight so far in advance that the schedule had changed. I use the app TripIt to keep track of my flights and apparently did not update the information in that app. To make things worse I was traveling with my elderly parents. Thanks for United who got us on the next flight with no muss and no fuss. They didn’t need to do that. It was my fault.
Tip 2: don’t allow enough time
I was working in the TripAdvisor office in Boston only 25 minutes or so from the airport when there is not traffic but this was Friday afternoon when traffic was guaranteed and a rainy Friday afternoon at that. My plan was to allow an extra half hour to get to the airport and drop off the rental car. I like to plan to get to the airport an hour before my flight and then add on time from there.
Tip 3: “one more thing”
Even after I was reminded by an email alert of my departure time I took the time to do “one more thing”. Given how close I was to making the flight one more thing may have been one thing too many.
Tip 4: don’t allow for traffic
If I had been able to take public transportation I might have made my flight. The MTA would have been full but it would not have had the difficulty with the rain that delayed me on the turnpike behind at least 2 accidents. It is very frustrating to be an hour and a half from a flight but still not sure you are going to make it. Public transportation would have been slower than the best time in a car but better than the worst time.
Tip 5: make security more complicated
It is ironic that when I first packed my heavy metal Blue Yeti Microphone I was concerned that it might slow me down in airport security, but that it did not slow me down until the very time that I could least afford the delay. See The Definitive Guide to Airport Security and the TSA.
Tip 6: “one last thing”
Even after getting through security, I made one last stop (granted it was the restroom) before getting to my gate. When you are rushing for a flight be laser-focused at least until you get to the gate and find out the status of boarding.