My flight is touching down for landing. It has been a smooth flight; thankfully I was able to catch some Z’s since I have been sick as of late and run down. I don’t have much time when I land at MSP; I have a two and a half hour drive to lovely La Crosse, Wisconsin-my final destination. The good news is that when I return to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP) tomorrow, I will have an hour or so to relax and visit some of my favorite places in the airport. Think: Minnesota Wild Sports Bar for some amazing Bavarian Pretzel Sticks. Or Brookstone-who doesn’t love the latest gadget and a free massage by chair?
While the fact that I have favorite places at airports is more of a statement about my work/life balance these days, it is imperative to know these places to keep me sane on the road (and tarmac). Any business traveler can tell you that they have a list of their favorite airports, a list of airports that they frequent (which hopefully match the previously mentioned list) and a list of airports they aim to avoid if at all possible. When you fly a lotyou spend an inordinate amount of time in the terminal, waiting. And although staying glued to the mobile phone is and/or laptop is always an option, sometimes I want need to disconnect. If you are like me, this parlays itself into keeping a running tab on where to go during your layover for eating, drinking and shopping. That’s why one of the ten commandments of the business traveler is: Know Thy Airport.
Here is a roster of airports that I transit through most frequently (you will probably start seeing tips from me about these airports, so stay tuned!):
- ATL (Atlanta)
- ORD (Chicago O’Hare)
- DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth)
- CLT (Charlotte)
- BWI (Baltimore-Washington)
- EWR (Newark)
I bet many other frequent business travelers in the United States have a similar list. It isn’t any surprise that most of these are major airline hubs, consequentlyI am usually connecting through them to my final destination to visit my customers. I know them well given the time I spend in them. The good news is that this frequency creates time for me to be the consumer I always strive to be-trying new foods, seeking out new items to surprise my family with as an offering for my time away.
What is it inside of us that makes us want to know these places so well? There is a story that I always tell that lends itself to the comfortability of business travel. I once had a hiatus from traveling due to company budget cuts. As any business traveler knows, nearing the end of the fiscal year you probably won’t see many airports, as companies aim to improve the bottom line. After this break from the travel lifestyle, on my first trip back throughSt. Louis airport (STL) . I sent my brother a text message, Starbucks in hand, telling him how oddly comfortable I felt sitting at the airport and that I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or just plain sad.
All joking aside, there is some validity to that feeling – the same reason I stay at Marriott properties almost exclusively when I travel for business – I want to be comfortable somewhere that feels familiar and that I know well, if I can’t be home with my wife and kids. I remember I used to hear frequent traveling friends referring to airports by code and thinking, “Wow, that is so confusing… can’t they just call it San Fransisco instead of SFO?” Nowadays, I find myself talking of my travels and sounding like I am helping my kids learn the alphabet. I just hope that I don’t teach them the wrong order when I actually do help them with their homework:
Addison: “Daddy, what comes after A?”
Daddy: “T-L honey…”
Like I said, it is human nature to want to be comfortable. Whether it is flying to the same airports and knowing the terminals well, or it is trying your darndest to fly with your favorite airline. OK, so maybe it is the sense of comfortability and the acquisition of frequent flier miles. Hey, a guy has to pay the family back for all of that time away with fun vacations. Am I right? Spring break at MCO(Orlando), here we come!!! Oh wait… we’re driving. No problem, I will use my airline miles for the hotel!
The Flying Salesman