Yes, there is an ideal way to miss your flight and I will share how I discovered it. It has become a pattern for me to run late when traveling, however hard I try. So I decided to attempt to perfect the art of missing flights. As for the issue of close calls, it is getting better- I am learning from each travel experience but it is still an area that needs improvement nonetheless.
I have several horror stories of running late for a flight but I will never forget this one back in 2012. At the time, I lived in Cookeville, TN and that summer, my friend had invited me to go on a cruise with her and her family. I had been looking forward to this cruise for months, counting down the days. It was a one week cruise porting at Cozumel, MX, Honduras, Belize, and Cayman Islands. I felt it was a rare opportunity (and I was right, as I haven’t been on a cruise since lol) so I decided to put a significant portion of my savings to paying for it.
The cruise was leaving from Florida, so I would have to fly there first, and probably spend the night (so that I am not late of course). Problemo numero uno– the closest airport to Cookeville is Nashville, TN which was an hour, away so not too bad. I think I misread my itinerary and when I discovered I was leaving much earlier than I had thought, I drove like a maniac to Nashville, praying fervently to God for a miracle.
When I got to the check-in counter, they said I was too late. I am so surprised that I didn’t burst into tears immediately. It was completely my fault. I couldn’t argue my way out of this one. I explained my situation to the travel agent and she took pity on me and searched for alternative flights and sought the necessary approvals. By some miracle, she was able to put me on the next flight to Florida and I didn’t have to pay a dime. Won’t He (God) do it?!
I’ve had a few other close calls, but that was my most dramatic by far. And you’d think that event in 2012 would have done it for me for good, but no. I don’t know what it is. In fact, I do- I HATE waiting at the gate. It’s absolutely boring and a waste of time so I always play this optimization and risk analysis game in my mind to determine the ideal time to leave home or work while taking into account distance, [rush hour] traffic, weather, possible delays, security lines, size of airport, parking, shuttle schedules. It’s all a rather delicate balance, you see ;).
So after so many years of traveling, I finally found the best way to miss a flight. I discovered it in October 2015 while I was visiting Monterrey, Mexico. It was my last of 10 days there and it was a Saturday. Tip 1- pick a relaxing day to do it. Saturday is best for this, I’d say Friday is next. Sunday or Monday morning not so good if you are trying to get to work at 8am Monday morning. Depending on your schedule, it can be any day of the week, really. Just make sure it’s a day you are typically relaxing.
The cute restaurant in Santiago, where we had brunch
As it usually happens with me, at the start of a holiday I have this sense that there is so much time to do all I want to do, to check off my tourist list. And then about 48 hours before I leave, I realize the list is only 20% crossed and I start to freak out and a lot of the items on the list end up getting done on the very last day. Tip 2- Don’t try to fit too much on the last day.
So anyway, really, Saturday was the only day I had for this because my friend who I was visiting worked Monday through Friday and so this was the only day she really had time to take me to explore the cute little town of Santiago, see the waterfalls at Cola de Caballo, and eat some tasty goat meat at the famous El Rey Del Cabrito.
The whole time, I was really nervous about making my flight but she kept saying not to worry. I tried not to and focused on my goat meat instead. When we left the restaurant, our last scheduled stop, we were really cutting it close. That day, I experienced the kind of traffic I had never experienced before in Monterrey. I was panicking so much and then I got to a point that I decided it was best to stop panicking.
Tip 3- Think about the worst that could happen. Yes, I’m serious. Think about the worst thing, but not for long. This is just to help you come to terms with reality, in case it does happen. So you are not as shocked if it does. lol. For me, the worst thing that would have happened if I missed that flight was that I would have had to get on the next one and I would have had to pay A LOT of money. Worst case. Thankfully, I wasn’t broke. But if I was, I was employed, I’d save the money back up. If I wasn’t employed, then I was already in debt anyway, probably. Or if I wasn’t employed, I wouldn’t be in Mexico in the first place. haha.
Tip 4- If you are going to miss your flight, make sure it is on the return flight. I know– if one could plan these things then you wouldn’t miss your flight in the first place. lol. All I’m saying is, if you decide to be a little more ‘risk embracing’ – is that even a term?- the better time to do it is when you are going back home. This only works best if it is a holiday, in a beautiful place, with nice weather, preferably with a beach involved :). If it is long/boring/excruciating work trip in the backsides of nowhere and you want to get back to your family, do ALL of the planning to avoid missing your flight.
Tip 5- Stop and smell the roses. What I mean is find something positive to hold on to and think about. For example, I’d had such a great time in Mexico, my Spanish had improved immensely, I had met wonderful people, I had free rent for the trip, Monterrey was beautiful, it was great weather throughout — I was perfectly okay staying an extra day!
But no matter what, you always want to go home. Home is home. So I kept praying for a miracle. I thought it would be hilarious to tell the story of how God delayed a plane for me. And that’s exactly what he did! As I was sitting in traffic on the way to the airport, I kept getting alert after alert of the revised delayed departure time. I didn’t even get mad at all. Not one bit.
As soon as we got to the airport, I grabbed my bag and ran to the ticket counter to check in. They didn’t even give me any weird looks to indicate I was late in any way. I got to my gate and had to wait at least another hour before we boarded. And a little [unrepentant] part of me wished I had spent some more time at Calo de Caballo ;).
This is why I never learn my lesson completely! LOL.
Tell me, what’s your best/worst [almost] missed flight story?