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how to travel by air (or not)

Step One:

Somehow manage to completely delude yourself into thinking your flight is on Monday, when in fact, your flight is on Tuesday.

Bonus points if the person who informs you of this error is a surly Southwest customer service agent behind the baggage checking counter.

Bonus bonus points if you printed off your flight confirmation email before walking out the door and still neglect to notice the JANUARY 11 staring at your face

Bonus bonus bonus points if your sister had to drive you an hour to the airport.

Step Two:

Put yourself into a mental and physical funk over this misstep.

Spend all of Monday working yourself toward a migraine and spend Tuesday morning sleeping in. You will wake up well-rested, albeit rather groggy and in a certain amount of pain, at 10 a.m.

Step Three:

Have the good fortune of attempting to fly home during a week where there is snow in 49 states.

The second leg of your flight will be canceled at about 10:15 a.m. Talk to oblivious Southwest customer service agents while you shove down your only meal of the day – toast with peanut butter and jelly – and force your groggy brain to figure out how you are going to get back to Boston A) in time to work on Thursday morning and B) without financial penalty.

Step Four:

Be reckless. Be wild! Be totally insane!

Throw caution to the wind. Sure, you could bet on Wednesday’s weather holding out, or even the good graces of your employers, if you happen to end up flying on Thursday and cannot make your shift at the Reference Desk.

But why do that when you can book a 12:40 flight at 10:30, when you are both in your pajamas, half-packed, without a car or a ride, and an hour away from the airport? Oh, and a plane that is flying into a city Southwest has labeled with a weather advisory so severe they are offering free flight transfers ahead of cancellations, and then from there into a city that is expecting 1-2 feet of snow starting in the evening?

Rely on the following for support:

– your tireless mother who leaves her cell phone ringer on during meetings expressly to answer “yes” when you call and ask her if she can drop everything she is doing, come home, and drive you to the airport.

– the fact that because you are an idiot and thought your flight was yesterday, your bags are already 95% packed and your suitcase will only require ten minutes of sitting and stomping and zipping.

– the assurance that even if you are stranded at BWI for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, you have a friend, a cousin, and an uncle who all live nearby and might offer refuge.

– a sister who remembers your energy drink in the fridge and brings it to you for the car trip to the airport.

Step Five:

Open your karmic doors to airport miracles.

Repeat to yourself:

“Traffic and weather will not impede my journey down I-94 in any way.”

“I will successfully check two bags and pose for a naked security photo in 20 minutes or less.”

“I will not be randomly selected for a full-body pat-down cavity-check terrorism search.”

“My gate will be preternaturally close to the airport entrance.”

“My connecting flight will be not be cancelled.”

“My boyfriend will eventually pick up his phone or read any of my frantic text messages and know I will be at the airport about 5 hours ahead of schedule.”

“This whole ‘de-icing’ the wings process will not be so prohibitively slow that I will miss my connecting flight.”

“The gate for my flight transfer won’t be too far from my departing flight, or too difficult to locate.”

“My bags and I will make it to the same location at the same time, and if not, my panic-attack-handwriting on my luggage tags will be legible enough for someone to leave my bags at my apartment, eventually.”

“The zipper on my suitcase that popped open in the middle won’t slowly unzip while in transit, my every belonging spilling into the abyss of airplane cargo.”

Step Six:

Don’t be afraid to run.

The gates might be close, but you don’t know that for sure and yes, your plane is already boarding, so if you get a move on, you might even have the chance to pee before your flight leaves.

Step Seven:

Be prepared.

Carry, on your person:

– Two Touchstones of Young Adult Literature, for productive entertainment (when you control that panicky-fuzzy-brain, finally)

– Gum, for ear poppin’

– Chapstick, for lip glossin’

– Excedrin, for aforementioned migraine

– Three Driver’s Licenses (two expired, one current), because last year you tried to fly with none, so you might as well be cautious

– Headphones and Kanye, for the inevitable chatty passengers who distract you from your riveting Touchstones

– Laptop, for accessing free wi-fi when you are stuck between departures and baggage claim at Boston Logan, due to some kind of security breach, and entertaining yourself while your boyfriend drives all the way from Southbridge after missing all of your frantic calls and texts until after you’ve landed.

Step Eight:

Do not cross your apartment’s threshold before acquiring the essentials.

– Groceries for that pesky snowstorm you barely averted

– Three bottles of wine and a case of Sam Adams

– Take-out pad thai, to make up for a pathetic daily diet of toast and airline peanuts.

Step Nine

If at all possible, schedule a day for recovery immediately after arrival.

Bonus points if you have snow outside and a boyfriend inside.

Bonus bonus points if you play over 2 hours of video games on your brand new HD-TV.

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