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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Joys of Domestic Holiday Travel... Really!

Yesterday we left the Midwest to spend Thanksgiving week in California with Kam's family; our first flight since our trip to Europe this spring.

Previously, I would have preferred to remain home-bound rather than face O'Hare International Airport during the holiday season. What is it about ORD that is so disenchanting in the winter? The Chicago weather delays? Or maybe the fact that bad weather anywhere on the continent will somehow delay flights out of Chicago? I don't know, but whatever it is, I have spent far too many hours in lines at gates in ORD, waiting and hoping to get a coveted remaining seat on a back-up flight for my back-up flight.

And then yesterday arrived. I was prepared for anything as we headed toward ORD, just days before the busiest travel day of the year.

Prepared for anything, that is, except a pleasant and enjoyable journey. Just minutes into the airport, it hit me: no matter what the issue, everything is easier to face in domestic travel. In this, our first trip since our travels in Europe,

I realized how many things I love about domestic travel:

  • Being able to read the signs. All of them. Without thinking. Without using context. Without wondering what the symbols mean. I just love to be able to look up at a sign have instant access to the information I was seeking, especially in an airpot.
  • Understanding the queuing system. I won't try to say the North American way of lining up in a neat and polite manner that respects the time and space of fellow queuers is better than other -ahem- systems. No matter where you're from, it's just easier to line up with people whose method matches yours.
  • Clean restrooms. Okay, admittedly this experience will not be shared by all who travel domestically, depending on where your domicile is... but here in the States, it would be on rare occasion that I would cringe at the thought of a public privy. All the more important when traveling with a child!
  • And my newfound favorite part of domestic holiday travel: TREATS!
Treats? Really? Now, I'm not one of those people who sneaks around the big box mega discount stores, trolling for free samples... but I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to be met, not by weather delays at ORD, but by this happy scene, courtesy of American Airlines, and featuring apple cider (not just apple juice, but apple cider!) and Starbucks coffee, with a little sign offering holiday greetings from the American Airlines family, and three of the happiest airport personnel I have ever encountered!

Not to be outdone, the ubiquitous Starbucks in the world infamous LAX had an employee actually walking through the baggage claim area, offering little cake bites to holiday travelers. In all my years of flying during the holiday season, I have honestly never experienced anything remotely close to the hospitality that met us in our travels yesterday. (And for those who caught the news yesterday, I should say that we consumed our treats and claimed our bags just early enough to miss the LAX shut-down last night... or this might have been a completely different post!)

So thank you, American Airlines and Starbucks, for the pleasant entry to not just the airports, but to this holiday season!

Anyone else who loves world travels find that you love the logistics of domestic travels just a little bit more?

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