Up, off and away

Up, off and away

Up, off and away

Have you been to the airport recently? Was it a pleasant experience? My last encounter with the Las Vegas Airport sure wasn't. 

It was not that long ago when you could drive through light traffic to the airport and park your vehicle by the wire fence separating the car park from the waiting planes. Then you could hop into the building, buy your air ticket and wait around for your boarding call. 

As soon as your pending flight departure is announced, you walk right outside and file through the fence gate as you hand your boarding pass to the agent. 

Climbing up the steps into the aircraft, you find your seat, you make yourself comfortable and in a jiffy you're flying up, off and away into the beautiful wild blue yonder. 

What was, back in that time, a simple little airport serving the town of Las Vegas has since grown and expanded into a large city expanse of an airport containing three giant structures, Terminals 1, 2 and 3. 

As you drive in off the freeway you have to know which terminal, airline, flight number, arrival or departure time. And if you haven't been through the procedure previously, well you're bound to get lost. 

Driving in you carefully wind your way through a maze of signs, exits, twists and turns and busy heavy traffic. You have to know where to turn, when to zig and when to zag and if you're not lucky enough to spot and arrive at your desired destination, why you've passed through the entire complicated complex and you find yourself back out on the freeway again. 

This happened to me a couple of times. I had to quickly find an exit, manage to get back on the freeway going the other way and try it all over again. 

You locate the right terminal and find a parking spot. You make a mental note of its exact location so you can hopefully find your car again. 

You have trouble trying to buy a parking stub from a machine that does not take cash. The entire environment seems to be fighting you. 

There's a scramble of bodies and luggage everywhere, people all rushing about like ants on a hill. It's a noisy, tense experience you try to cope with without looking too out of place.

Security is all around and you know that cameras are watching you. You feel like a criminal suspect even before you face the dreaded TSA.

After all the hassle of waiting in lines, being patient, cooperative and compliant, you actually obtain a ticket to fly. Now you have to find the gate. 

I won't even describe the TSA ordeal. My long string of curses would not be printable!

Your gate is miles away of course. As you trudge along laboring with your bags, you tell yourself, "This is the last time I'm ever going to do this. I don't care how far it is. Next time, for sure, I'm driving"!

Finding the departure gate you select a seat and try to rest and calm down. That's when you notice a miraculous transformation take place among the people around you. 

You've also seen it previously at the baggage claim area. Human emotion pours out in hugs, kisses, tears of joy and sadness, joyful hellos and sad goodbye's. Husbands, wives, sweethearts, kids and old folks, all freely share their affections with each other for a brief moment in time. 

The airline staff at long last takes your boarding pass and ushers you down a dark tunnel into the belly of the plane which looks like the inside of an ocean liner compared to the planes you knew back in the day. 

You're seated, buckled in and ready. You hear the rumble of the jet engines increase and you sense a motion as the big bird heads out for the runway. 

It starts slow but then it increases speed rapidly. Then you're shooting like a rocket down the long concrete runway. 

That's when you feel a gentle lift off and you watch the ground, cars and buildings fall away below you.

It's quite a euphoric feeling to say the least. It's as though you're leaving your cares, woes and anxieties behind you down below. 

And there's your future right there before you, a bright, peaceful, beautiful blue sky. 

If I have access to headphones, I love to tune in and listen to dramatic classical music as I fly up, off and away.

Dan can be reached at danhughoconnor@gmail.com