Saturday, December 22, 2007


I arrived at the airport shortly after 4:00 for my 7:00 flight. I anticipated holiday crowds but did not find them. After the difficulty in getting out during the holidays last year (due to weather) - and a lot of running around today getting ready to go - I was pleased how smoothly it all went. I used the extra airport time to have a nice dinner, take advantage of the DIA’s new free wireless service, and browse in the shops.

Then I moseyed to the far reaches of C terminal to catch my flight. It was first delayed, then canceled. Now it looks like I’ll be on one that doesn’t leave for another four hours. It will get me into Seattle in the wee hours of the morning.

I don’t know if I’ve ever spent eight hours at DIA. Have you? [Note - ended up being closer to 10, then a few hours in a hotel, then a few more back at the airport the next morning...]

When there’s nothing uncertain to fret about and when you’re not exhausted, airports can be an interesting place to be - a pause between things, a window for observing human nature (often human nature under stress, but still, interesting).

Brings to mind these words of Chesterton. He may have never spent time in an airport, but had some similar experiences with train stations:

"The only way of catching a train I have ever discovered is to be late for the one before. Do this, and you will find in a railway station much of the quietude and consolation of a cathedral.

"It has many of the characteristics of a great ecclesiastical building; it has vast arches, void spaces, coloured lights, and, above all, it has recurrence or ritual.

"It is dedicated to the celebration of water and fire - the two prime elements of all human ceremony.

"Lastly, a station resembles the old religions rather than the new religions in this point, that people go there."

G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

This may be my favorite of Chesterton's books, just for sheer playfulness reined in a bit by the demands and skills of the newspaper editors for whom the pieces were originally written. Project Gutenberg which will allow you to download it (and many other public-domain works) freely and easily.


Orrange said...

unfortunately yes we have spent 8+ hours at DIA. Glad you didn't have long lines though... but bad news that your flight was cancelled. Flying seems to be more and more difficult these days. I'm glad you are able to sit back and have a calm outlook on it.

Marti said...

Yes, you can't just stroll in an hour early and assume all will be well, anymore. And I remember sometime in the 90's when I discovered that missing a flight to Seattle usually delayed me less than an hour, as it was so easy to get on the next flight! Not no more...

Yeah, I've got a philosophical attitude today - not easily irritated. Maybe I'm in vacation mode.

Hope your DIA 8+ hour experience did not include a couple of toddlers! Glad, of course, that your =life= includes those kiddos, but they do make some things more challenging, eh?

I Was Just Thinking.... said...

I'd rather be stuck at DIA for 8 hours than Lambert or LAX. Myabe Schipol would be better or Heathrow!
Thanks for the heads up on Project Gutenberg. I just read A Christmas Carol through dailylit.

Marti said...

Turned out closer to 10 hours. They canceled the second flight as well and put us up in hotels. Mine was quite far away, back by Stapleton. Crawling into bed at 2:30 am - having left my house at 2:30 in the afternoon - I thought, 'I made it 25 miles in 12 hours. Pa Engels could have done better with his horse and buggy.' But it looks to work out well in the end - I'll probably get a free flight out of it and the pickup times are much better for my parents!

Yeah, I don't mind Heathrow or Schiphol; both have a good bit to see and do and nice places to catch a nap...

Shane said...

Ah, Chesterton. . . I often quoted that bit in Holland as we strolled in the front doors of the station just in time to watch our train departing!

And thanks for the happy news that DIA has free wireless. May this be the beginning of a switchover trend for many airports.

Marti said...

Yes, the free wireless is a nice touch! It definitely helped the time go faster. Of course, finding an outlet to plug into when one's power is low can sometimes be more difficult.

Of course, such power corrupts... Last time I was stuck in an airport - I think it was either Phoenix or LAX - there was a young family there, and their son, age six-ish, seemed concerned that his mommy might love the computer more than she loved him - and he had some evidence on his side!