If you fly these days and are of a certain age you may remember the golden age of the Jet Set. Pan Am, Delta, United. You know the routine you’ve seen the glamor shots and maybe even been to the Pan Am terminal in New York City or flew on a Delta flight when drinking and smoking was the norm and every stewardess had a little hat.
Then the 1970s came and the same people who built prisons, police stations, and Amtrak stations came out of the woodwork and built all the airports. Then airline travel became less expensive but the seats smaller and smaller and the staff grumpier and were tired of serving you nuts. And let’s not forget smoking went out the window and drinks were no longer free. This sucks.
Suckation part II. With the little progress that had been made in travel, most of those gains in comfort were stripped in the neo normal age post Twin Towers and the new culture of Fear. No nail clippers. No shoes. No belts. No hats. No liquids. No drinks at all. No questions. No fun allowed. Travel was made to suck. And for those of us going strong in coach not once in a while for vacation or to visit grandma to stick her in that nursing home she always dreaded this is the travel suckation that keeps on giving.
Which is why it is nice that not all airports are created equally. And while we can lament the amplification of mallscapes everywhere (but real malls… Those are dying), being in an airport waiting for a flight or a connection and having more than one option to eat or drink is a welcome evolution from those olde days and those airports that are yet lost in time and are but a series of bathrooms, beige and gold and orange decor, a few worn out rows of seat, and of course CNN blaring. Is that man rubbing his naked and swollen feet over there?
Why yes that is.
Yes you can bang between Skyclubs and Admiral’s Clubs and other hideaways but for many of us on the road warrior spectrum, these are not fiscally available. And do they have rocking chairs? Because CLT does. CLT is a mall. Air travel is a pack em in poop em out and don’t drop too many from a great height industry. And I’ll take even the smallest kindness where I can take it.
CLT is a welcome transfer for the traveler wrinkled and tweeting on time zone changes. It’s a stopping point on the way to elsewhere but one that makes me happy rather than miserable – of which Atlanta, Bush, and LaGuardia present such offensive assaults on all senses or others that present special challenges to go from A14 to D12 one would think each terminal subscribed to an incomparable political ideology and perhaps Berlin after The War was simpler to travel about.
In CLT the gates spill onto different wings all (for the most part) connected by moving sidewalks that also present an opportunity to have a brisk walk about prior to entering the fetal position for another 4 hours. For the most part transferring is simpler than other large airports and junctions in this green and expansive nation and information is everywhere.
There is a core to the entire complex a center for all activity, with suspended artwork and a piano that on occasion has a player performing (a few other airports have pianos but I’ve not seen them used). Were cell phone service unavailable you could actually say to traveling companions “hey meet me at 11:45 at the mobile” and everyone would find it even if some walked down the wrong corridor at first. The shops are plentiful however, these are useless to me as I am not their target nor do I have room in my carry-on even if I had $250 for a glass bird or tumbler of crystal or high end handbag or spanking new shoes. I enjoy the energy these shopes bring and while I don’t think they make more than entertainment for the bored masses, they distract the vox pop long enough for me to score a rocking chair and perhaps a plug to rejuice my juice-thirsty devices and iThingamagigs.
And to CLT there are eateries and drinkeries aplenty and many situated as to provide perches upon with to do some people watching and wardrobe evaluating and to pretend to work from awaiting another tight screaming baby thirty thousand feet no service I have to pee but the seat belt light is on or do I have to do more than pee oh no what was in those chips they gave me ride to my next destination.
Today I make more arrangements. Same time. Same destination. Same price. Change in Chicago? Or CLT. It may sound strange, but I will take the southern route. Ok, it’s a longer layover than Chicago and I have to leave a little early. But it’s worth it. One of those rocking chairs is mine. You may even see me there next time you transfer.
Editor’s Note: The blogger hired to write these posts does not receive any compensation from airports, hotels, eateries nor has a sponsor for any of this work. The blogger is not saying no to be paid to shill the above, but has not shall we say met the right person.