Ahhh, the glories of air travel.
Get to the airport more than one hour ahead of departure, says the ticket. Okay, there at 1h15 ahead of time. I have a boarding pass, should just be a speedy trip through the...
...giant line of people out the door at the TSA checkin.
Two agents, literally six hundred people. It's worse because the attention span of most people means that the instant nothing is happening right then and there, out come the cell phones. Meaning nobody's moving because they're too busy making sure they don't miss a Kardashian tweet. Occasionally someone would look up and realize that oh wait, there's stuff going on.
Most people are missing flights. The presumption is that since the TSA is even slower and inefficient than usual, they'd hold the planes. This is a false presumption.
So there's crowds of people desperately trying to get rebooked before THOSE flights take off, but thanks to Standard Atlanta Customer Service Policy, people simply come out and stare at the terminals, ignoring the groups of people getting increasingly irate about being completely ignored.
"Ah said ten minute ago when ah come out here, am closin the flight, then ah ma get ta you." This activates TheAnglican's inner "spot the racist" game and sure enough there are two people behind me most certainly thinking very dark things about the possibility of mass deporations in a Trump Presidency. And thinking up an amusing "fake African name" to use to describe her when retelling this story later.
Ten, fifteen minutes of staring at screens. People are banging the counter to try to get her attention. Scowls shot from the bored, disinterested gate employee. "You have to be here 10 minutes before departure. Iss not ma fault.". "The TSA line is well over an hour." *shrug* "That don't got nothin' to do wit me."
I'm waiting for someone, somewhere to throw a punch. And it's not at all a function of race, even though the guy behind me is most certainly grinding his teeth and thinking thoughts he really should go to confession for about that woman and everyone who looks like her. One counter over a blonde middle aged woman with a pronounced Wisconsin accent is explaining in curt, "you're bothering me" tones that her priority is: Get this flight out. Do the paperwork on the last flight. Read my screen. Go to the bathroom. Grab my coat cause I'm going to go to another counter soon. Then you. Maybe.
It's why I never fly. When someone two counters over finds out he could have made another flight if she'd taken care of him when he first showed up rather than making him wait 25 minutes while she types on her screen doing other things, I'm thinking this is it. N-bomb at least, punch at most. But this is something these counter folk deal with each and every day. The airlines make a quarter per customer. $0.25. You might think because you paid $350 for your ticket that means something. You're worth less than discarded pocket change to any airline employee.
I'm one of the lucky ones. I'll only be delayed three hours. I have a new ticket but no seat assignment. So I have to take the train three more terminals over. I have time, flight leaves in two hours. I'm so glad at this point I woke up at 3:30am to make my original flight.
This is why I don't bring luggage. I have the bare minimum in a backpack. It's why the overhead compartments are "full" by the time they get to Group 3. People are carrying everything with them because you can never count on anyone or anything anymore.
A blonde runs up to the counter, a miracle that she can sprint in heels. When informed her flight to L.A. left fifteen minutes ago, she breaks down in sobs and collapses. She has no idea where to go or what to do. There's nobody, nobody anywhere to help her. As far up and down the terminal as the eyes can see, there are people standing around empty desks wondering what to do next.
Some are abandoning their initial fares and buying new tickets with their cell phones.
This, dear reader, is why I will be driving everywhere. I did the math. It would only take me eight more hours to drive to my destination. If I had simply driven as of 3 o clock in the morning, I'd have been at my final destination only about four hours later. It would have been a scenic drive. I price out the car idly on Priceline, do the math on the gas. It would have cost less.
Sure: it's a 17h drive vs a 6h flight. But factor in delays, rebookings, the TSA, having to get from gate A to... ohhhh sorry you missed your connection. I can get you on a flight 4h from now... it just makes more sense to take the roads.
EDIT: UPDATE: Oh goody! I'm 11th on Standby, on a 5+ person OVERBOOKED flight.
2ND EDIT: Had to buy a 2nd ticket to be considered to fly out of here before about Monday. The CSM is going around threatening to have people removed if they don't talk to him with the required level of obsequiousness.