The temperature was forty degrees. The boarding passes we'd printed at our son's read "Terminal A." We stood at the back of the line on the curb at the Philadelphia Airport the Monday after Christmas. All our gifts were in two suitcases for $50.
The gray-haired American Airlines employee at the curb had to be sixty. With care he checked the couple's i.d.'s at the front of the line, punched in their baggage tags, stood waiting for them to print, received their tip with a double "Thank you," and with a groan shoved their bags to the top of the mound on the luggage cart. With the wind picking up, Charley sent me to investigate the line inside the terminal while he stayed with our bags. The line inside still snaked around eight stanchions.
The American attendant repeated his ritual ten times. We had moved up to second. That's when he said, "Be right back." He began to press his weight against the pyramid on the cart. The cart inched forward a foot. The man waiting at the head of the line jumped to help. The cart began to roll through the automatic doors into the terminal.
After ten minutes the attendant returned to continue his tagging and after another five minutes, our bags sat on the cart, ready for flight. "I'm sorry, but you're at the wrong terminal," the attendant said, looking at our boarding passes.
"But they say 'Terminal A'," I said, pointing to the boarding passes.
"They do, but since the merger with U.S. Air, the Florida flights are going out of Terminal C. All three terminals are American now."
"What's the fastest way over there?" Charley said.
"Wait right at that corner there for a bus."
Ten minutes later we got off the bus at Terminal C. My toes tingled from lack of circulation, since I hadn't expected to stand in a line in 40-degree temperatures for forty-five minutes and had packed my boots in the suitcase I'd just checked.
Upstairs in Terminal C we checked the "Departures" board. At least we were in the right place. "Where's the TSA Pre-check line?" Charley asked an American employee at the end of the security line.
"Back in Terminal B," he said.
About five years ago we paid $100 each and been interviewed for Global Entry on our passports so we could go through a screening machine re-entering the country. The first time we tried it, Charley's fingerprints didn't read because his fingers had no oil. We were detained in a side room for almost an hour with drug dealers and illegal immigrants. We no longer used the Global Entry machines.
We paid $85 each for TSA Pre-check and had more interviews so we wouldn't have to wait in a long security line or remove our shoes or belts or jackets or baggies with 3 ounces of liquid or computers from cases. The little red check mark with "TSA" was printed on our boarding passes.
By the time we walked back to Terminal B for pre-check, we could have passed through the long security line in Terminal C and been relaxed at our gate with a book and a coffee. We stayed where we were.
As did our suitcases, which followed us back to Florida twenty-four hours later. I guess the curb attendant hadn't gotten anyone to help him push his cart inside.
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.