It’s Not Easy Going Home For Christmas: Chicago O’Hare Edition

A small blonde twenty something rushes up to me, “Are you going to Ft. Lauderdale? You missed it.”

On December 22, 2015,  I arrived to the airport and saw everyone’s worst airport nightmare, the longest line.

TSA Pre-check:

I thought like Seth Godin encouraged me to do in several of his books. He looked at the systems we have in place and thought about how we could use them more efficiently.

I looked into TSA pre-check, and you have to go through an application process prior to using it along with paying $85.00 for five years of TSA pre-check benefits.

While people were cutting in line and freaking out about missing their flight, I thought about using TSA precheck as a solution.

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There should be airport workers soliciting the service in line, especially for those who are going to miss their flight.

Even if they had to take their shoes off and take their laptops out into a separate bins, if passengers at O’Hare paid for a one time use or signed up for the program, I think it would help relieve the stress, the swear words, and let’s face it, the tears from missing your flight.

The lines at O’Hare were insane.

For all of the passengers who got there an hour and a half before boarding and missed their flight, this is for you. Me and the three guys behind me the eve before Christmas Eve doing our second round of security TSA checks feel you.

The prior night’s experience was civil, painful, but civil. At 6:00 pm at O’Hare, people were dressed in pink dresses, cute booties, and the only thing they were missing was a smile.

Stay Positive:

The girl standing in line with me was Becca. She lives in LA, but was on her way to a small town in Iowa (not the same as The Bachelor).

She had the best Christmas spirit. We talked about our LA experience and about project management. She does fundraising for universities like UCLA.

We laughed at and almost asked the girl who brought Stan’s Donuts as her carry on, if she would share.

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We talked about our families and Christmas activities. And it felt amazing.

It felt amazing to not be standing in line for over an hour hating my life, but rather making the best of enduring the longest line of my life, like longer than Universal Studios.

“Did she bring every non-TSA approved item in her carry on?”

Becca commented as a girl tossed out four water bottles.

It was 15 minutes until my flight left, and the attendant just checked my ID. My gate was the last one at the end of the hall. I took my bags, threw on my heels without zipping them, and then ran to the gate—the gate where I met the thirteen year old boy sobbing because their family is going to miss their cruise. And I met the blonde, who I later learned was named Sage, and she was traveling with her boyfriend.

I left the airport shocked. And hurt and hangry. Yes, hangry. I hadn’t eaten  I kicked my bag through the turnstile to head back on the blue line.

Does Your Family Really Want You Home For Christmas:

I got home and called my sister. She was so there for me and said if I didn’t make it home, then she would come fly to see me. She then offered to pick me up at another airport. And then, she said that her boyfriend had a flight voucher I could use.

A tear rolled down my face. I was dumbfounded by the lengths my sister would go through to see me for Christmas.

I Snapchatted(@Rationalization) with my other sister, who said that she missed me and sang me a Christmas song. It was perfect and everything.

I then entered into emotional eating at the thought of not going home for Christmas.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas:

When the food arrived. I turned on Empire. I am still behind. I fell asleep. No alarm set.

I was dreaming of Jonathan Taylor Thomas and his struggle to get home for Christmas with Jessica Biel in the Christmas movie, I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

I woke up at 5:40 am.

I ordered an Uber and a nice Asian man took my bag and played some Christmas jazz on the way to the airport.

Standby:

I was on standby with sixteen other people for the already overbooked 8:50 am flight. A group of four of us, Sage and her boyfriend, a graduate from Northwestern and I, all were rooting for each other to go home for Christmas.

Our logic was that if we all missed our flight, it could happen again.

There was another flight at 11:50 am. The Northwestern graduate found another flight home, so it was me and the couple.

It started to rain. They finished boarding the 11:50 am flight, and I was fourth on the standby list.

The flight attendant started calling names on standby. She called Sage’s name and said they had ONE ticket left. Sage discussed it with her boyfriend, and they wanted to give the ticket to me.

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The next person on the list was the Northwestern graduate, who took another flight home.

Then, they called my name. I felt like I won the golden ticket.

Sage and her boyfriend each gave me a hug, and I rushed on the plane to none other than a window seat.

There’s no place in the world I would rather be than home for Christmas.

The struggle was real, but by the time I went on the runway, my spirits were lifted, and I was ready to celebrate Christmas with my family.

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