When you travel often enough, you are bound to have interesting encounters at airports. I’ve had some interesting encounters, though one of the most recent ones was quite puzzling.
An Encounter with an Infrequent Flyer
I had just gone through security at the NRT airport. I was waiting around for the rest of my family to finish up at the checkpoint, when a neatly dressed lady came up to me and asked, “Hi. Can you tell me if I still have time to go shopping?”
I was massively confused, thinking to myself, “Wait, did I hear her right?” I assumed most people budget enough time for their flights, so I started to respond, “Uh, you probably have time to go shopping…” My brother heard the exchange and chimed in, “It depends on your flight. What time is your flight?”
A Baffling Response
Her response was even more baffling — she said she’s “not sure”. She dug out a small piece of paper out of her pants pocket and shared it with me. The name of the airline and a flight number was handwritten on the paper. Since a flight monitor was not nearby, I asked instead, “Do you have your boarding pass? Can I see it so I can help you figure out how much time you got left?”
This time, she dug through her purse and handed me a folded boarding pass. I scanned for the flight time. “Wow”, I thought as I processed the info. She had less than 35 minutes before flight departure time. Boarding usually starts 20 minutes before departure time. She has yet to go through customs, and she’s wondering if she has time to do some shopping?
Alarmed, I said, “Your flight will take off soon. You don’t have time to go shopping. You need to go to your gate or you’ll miss your flight.” I directed her to the customs area, “You need to clear customs first and then get to your gate.”
Rooting for the Newbie
She finally seemed to grasp the urgency of her situation. She thanked us profusely, grabbed her luggage and headed to customs. When we got to customs area, we saw that the line was moving at a good pace. I spotted the lady near the front of one of the lines. I could tell she was getting anxious since she kept glancing at her watch. Once she cleared, she hurriedly walked to the directions of her gate and disappeared from view.
I never found out if she made it to her flight. I assumed she did — at least we all hoped she did. We were all rooting for her, much in the same way that you tend to root for the person who is running to catch a bus. It’s one thing if you are trying to make a tight connection because of a late arriving flight, but it’s another story to not even know when your flight is scheduled.
Still, I can’t help but chuckle at the question that started it all, “Can you tell me if I still have time to go shopping?” It really made me wonder what her story is.
Have you had any interesting encounter with random people at airports during your travels?