WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

I hate flying. I don't mean I hate the idea of flying, like the people who need to slam down two bars of Xanax and chase it with a bourbon just to keep from freaking out about the possibility of a plane crash. Despite being a pretty high-anxiety kind of guy, the (minuscule) risks of flying don't get to me. What DOES get to me, is the nonstop barrage of idiocy you're forced to deal with every time you want to fly somewhere. First there's the TSA, and while I could churn out several hundred blog posts about how stupid, ineffective, offensive, and idiotic the TSA is, we'll leave it at that. Of course to even GET to the TSA, you have to wait for the morons in front of you to figure it out, and despite 10 years of this crap I still wind up behind the guy who has no idea that his belt buckle has metal in it and is shocked, SHOCKED, that he can't put his dog through the X-Ray machine. Then there's the long, slow wait to actually BOARD the plane while people rush to be the first on board (thereby winning the right to sit the longest?).

IMGP2158-TSA Body Scanner Line
"Please be sure to leave all gels, liquids, and human dignity in the little rubber basket."


If you're an airline executive, here's a pro tip: stop charging people for checked bags and start charging them for carry-ons. A carry-on is more convenient: I don't have to deal with baggage claim, I can access my stuff right there, and I'm more likely to pay for the privilege. When you charge people to check a bag, you create a disincentive to use the space in the cargo hold and now suddenly every idiot in front of me is trying to cram a steamer trunk into the overhead bin while assuring the flight attendants, "It'll fit. It fit before." Then, surprise, the bins are full and we have to wait for the last 50 people on board to gate check their bags. Charging people for carry-ons means more people willing to pay the fee and less time waiting for people to wrangle their giant, oversized bags onboard. Don't worry about people hating you for the switcheroo: everyone already hates you...
 

 

But this isn't about any of that, I just needed to touch on it briefly to give you an idea as to where my stress level was by the time we landed at Sea-Tac Monday night at 8:30. We had spent a five day whirlwind trip trying to see everyone we could (and, in my case, dealing with horrible gnawing guilt over all the people I didn't get to see) and, as nice as it is to visit home, see my folks, and hang out with friends, it's just awesome to know you're finally going to sleep in your own bed again. So I was very anxious to finally be home and very sick of traveling by the time we were waiting at the curbside pick-up part of the airport, which is a pretty typical "two lanes for thru-traffic, two lanes for loading" set up. My wife called our ride (her dad, staying at our house for the next week or so) to see where he was and we waited.

The scene was already chaotic when we walked out. A police car sat parked diagonally across both loading lanes, effectively blocking them. There was no police officer to be seen, though. People were parked throughout the loading zones and talking on their cell phones or just absent-mindedly staring off into space. This is illegal. This is against airport etiquette. I know because there are signs roughly ever 30 feet telling you not to do this. I know because the one time I was foolish to try waiting to pick someone up an angry guy with a neon road safety badge yelled at me and threatened to tow my car. And you know what? He was right to do it. I was flouting the law and disrupting the flow of traffic. So I was feeling some righteous fury in my gut as I watched a guy park his car, get out, and walk into the airport to find his girlfriend at the baggage claim.

 

Chaos at the airport
"Hey bro, I should be back in like 30 minutes. Just chillax."


Where was the cop? Where was the tow truck? You can't just have the rules apply SOME of the time. That's anarchy! I was seriously considering my wife's suggestion that we just steal the dude's car when he came back out, loaded his passenger and her bags, and sped off. Suddenly our ride was here. Or rather, there. He couldn't get through to us as there were now three lanes' worth of cars parked with people just sitting there, mouths agape, staring into space. "Are you kidding me?" I heard my wife complain. I knew what I had to do. I had to take upon myself what the airport could not do. I would become the scourge of parking violators everywhere. I would be the lamest vigilante in history. My eyes fell on a gray VW Beetle; a woman sat at the steering wheel talking on her phone.

This was my moment.

I charged out into the loading lanes, "ARE YOU LOADING SOMEONE?!" She jumped as she heard the volume of my voice but didn't seem to understand my words. I was already waving her on as authoritatively as I could while hoping she wouldn't question my credentials or worse, a cop wouldn't show up and bust me under some bizarre TSA thing about making threats at an airport. She rolled down her window and set her phone down. That was more respect than I had expected.

"What?"

"ARE YOU LOADING SOMEONE?!" I pushed to keep my voice loud and forceful without seeming like just a screaming, angry guy, "THIS ZONE IS FOR LOADING AND UNLOADING ONLY. NO PARKING, NO STOPPING, NO EXCEPTIONS." I had read the sign several times.

"Well she's getting off her plane now."

"I DON'T CARE. YOU'LL HAVE TO COME AROUND AND PICK HER UP."

"But I'm on the phone with her-"

"NO PARKING, NO STOPPING, NO EXCEPTIONS. NOW MOVE IT!" She huffed and gunned her engine without putting the transmission into Drive. She slammed the stick back and pulled away, visibly flustered. My father-in-law pulled into the spot she had just vacated and we threw our bags into the bed of his truck.

 

Loading up
It looked cooler in my mind.


"That. Was. AWESOME." I heard him say as my wife climbed in. I was giddy with the rush of adrenaline that only comes with righteously verbally assaulting a stranger in public. I turned to survey the battlefield one last time before I hopped into the beat up pick-up truck which, in my head now, was a Blackhawk chopper airlifting me out of this mental dead zone. I couldn't resist. I turned to face the still-snarled mass of parked cars.

"YOU'RE ALL IDIOTS!"

And with that, we were on our way home. "Wow," my wife remarked, "maybe they should pay you to do that from now on."

"Are you kidding? I'm thinking of going back and doing it for free."




Flickr photos (in order) IMGP2158-TSA Body Scanner Line by David Prasad, Chaos at the airport by tyo, and Loading up by The U.S. Army used under a Creative Commons License.

DavidE


quality posts: 0 Private Messages DavidE

I agree, Sea-Tac loading/unloading is the worst. They seriously need some enforcers to get the inconsiderate starving pilgrims to move.

I have to give props to LAX and SNA airports, though. They don't seem to have this problem. In fact, the last time I flew into SNA, the pick-up curb was near empty, some lady in a BMW stopped for two minutes and a cop was there to yell at her and write her a ticket. I wanted to give him coffee and a doughnut and tell him to move to Seattle.

llandar


quality posts: 32 Private Messages llandar
DavidE wrote:I agree, Sea-Tac loading/unloading is the worst. They seriously need some enforcers to get the inconsiderate starving pilgrims to move.

I have to give props to LAX and SNA airports, though. They don't seem to have this problem. In fact, the last time I flew into SNA, the pick-up curb was near empty, some lady in a BMW stopped for two minutes and a cop was there to yell at her and write her a ticket. I wanted to give him coffee and a doughnut and tell him to move to Seattle.



The guy who yelled at me was at LAX, so I'll agree they seem to have their system down.

slswift


quality posts: 0 Private Messages slswift

Where is the freakin' LIKE button!!?!? This is a beautiful blog post.

I love the Loud Authoritative Voice. Or it's twin the Deep Authoritative Voice. I use it all the time in crowds like that. It's amazing how jammed people can get and how easily a little prodding can free up the whole mess.

taiwanbob


quality posts: 0 Private Messages taiwanbob

At Sea-Tac arrange your ride to pick you up at the departure (upper) level down at the far end by the international flights (EVA). Just make sure you stand downwind of the starving pilgrims smoking.

badplaid2


quality posts: 0 Private Messages badplaid2

Yea...during busy "arrival" hours, like later in the afternoon and at night at most airports, especially around holidays, I almost always arrange to pick people up at departures. Some airports have policies againts this, but I have never had an issue. (Actually, most of the time, there arent even people telling you to move along!) The one time I was questioned, I said that my gf's flight was cancelled and she called me to swing back around to pick her up as "I just dropped her off".

It's always much less of a cluster. That said, it doesnt work very well in the mornings as most people are departing then. In those cases, picking up at arrivals is usually a piece of cake.


taiwanbob wrote:At Sea-Tac arrange your ride to pick you up at the departure (upper) level down at the far end by the international flights (EVA). Just make sure you stand downwind of the starving pilgrims smoking.



erichans


quality posts: 0 Private Messages erichans
badplaid2 wrote:Yea...during busy "arrival" hours, like later in the afternoon and at night at most airports, especially around holidays, I almost always arrange to pick people up at departures.



What the last two posters said. Sea Tac is so much better if you're a loading/unloading contrarian. The Port of Seattle doesn't care; they just want you off their property as quickly as possible.

skippykj


quality posts: 16 Private Messages skippykj

It would be funny if the person recognized you.

"Hey. Aren't you that guy from Woot? The one that was rapping in a dog suit?"

talanjs


quality posts: 0 Private Messages talanjs

Maybe it's just something at SeaTac because i know Newark you'll got shot if you pull over without loading and even in Denver the TSA ( or airport cops) are really on top of keeping you moving.

javamatte


quality posts: 4 Private Messages javamatte

Staff

SeaTac (and others, I'm sure) have a cell phone waiting lot. It's about 2 minutes from the loading/unloading ramp and they don't threaten to tow you if you park there for up to an hour.

Unfortunately, there aren't many signs. Just one labeled "Cell Phone Lot" which isn't terribly descriptive unless you were already looking for the pre-pickup waiting area named after a communication device.

Sigh.

I guess signs cost money and the money is already spent paying for the TSA grope-fest and $7,000,000 scanners.

cdxskier


quality posts: 0 Private Messages cdxskier

This is great =)

zikzak


quality posts: 21 Private Messages zikzak
javamatte wrote:SeaTac (and others, I'm sure) have a cell phone waiting lot. It's about 2 minutes from the loading/unloading ramp and they don't threaten to tow you if you park there for up to an hour.



+1 to this. I find myself telling people about this all the time, because for some reason they don't know: "You get a nice quiet parking space while you wait until your friend phones you from baggage claim. You don't get hassled by cops. You don't have to circle and circle the terminal in traffic."

But I guess people get confused by the "Cell Phone Waiting Lot" sign. I suppose they think it's a place for cell phones to wait...

chefjoe


quality posts: 2 Private Messages chefjoe

The cell phone lot is nice, but pretty undersized. I find that just stopping at any of the mega-marts or fast food places right off 518 (pref pacific highway/99) is about as close.

I guess this wasn't a crowded enough time where you had the people constantly circling around through the arrivals gate ? I love that one, the people continually looping through because there's not even places to pull over... blaming all those other cars for being in the way.

rtameo


quality posts: 5 Private Messages rtameo

I kind of like circling the terminal. It's like my own little race track.

IGotNothin


quality posts: 0 Private Messages IGotNothin

You're my new hero. And the carry on idea's a gem too.

matthew


quality posts: 20 Private Messages matthew
javamatte wrote:cell phone waiting lot



The last two people I picked up at the airport, when I said "I'll be in the cell phone lot," were both like "what is that? They don't have it in [city where flight originated]."

But I'm sure they do. No idea why it's not better-known.

mattryan


quality posts: 41 Private Messages mattryan

I have my own personal "channeling the devil" voice that I use when my agitation levels get to a certain point. It's actually made kids cry in fear. Their tears sustain me though

fishphotoguy


quality posts: 8 Private Messages fishphotoguy

That is a completely opposite experience to what I've had at Sea-Tac departures. It's been a few years, but I've been yelled at and threatened with arrest for not closing the trunk and moving along while we still bags inside. God forbid you waste time with a hug on the curb, or reach back into the car to grab your ticket. My wife's father was within an inch of being slapped with a ticket book, literally, while we were setting up a stroller and shuffling car seats.

We've stopped being shocked or upset about it, those guys in Seattle have conditioned me to think of airport policing as street theater.

willeet


quality posts: 2 Private Messages willeet

Awesome! I wish more people would take the time to figure out how airport pickups and dropoffs work ahead of time, as opposed to causing issues for everyone else. The few times I've had to pick someone up from the airport, I405 traffic has "helped" me time it so that I can't get there until after they've already gone through baggage claim and are standing on the sidewalk waiting for me. Which is fine, because then I'm not taking up a spot for long.
However, I went to the Port of Seattle site and determined where the cell phone lot was ahead of time, just in case, and also signed up for text alerts for the particular flight.
Thinking ahead and consideration of others seems to be lost arts.

threepiecewoot


quality posts: 20 Private Messages threepiecewoot
IGotNothin wrote:You're my new hero. And the carry on idea's a gem too.



It's a brilliant idea and I hope it takes off.

sdgardner


quality posts: 4 Private Messages sdgardner

Well Done!

saltone


quality posts: 1 Private Messages saltone

hilarious.

I shocked my neighbor with that voice change once. My wife calls it my "dad voice" I am usually pretty quiet and laid back but we were standing there and I saw my son being mean to the neighbors son and out it came. the neighbor was shocked, and I just laughed.

"What the hell are we doing fighting government, let's become government and we can then take whatever we want!".
Al Capone

SESteve


quality posts: 15 Private Messages SESteve

I can't help but notice you didn't choose to yell at the burly guy in the lifted truck with the NRA and confederate flag stickers.

llandar


quality posts: 32 Private Messages llandar
SESteve wrote:I can't help but notice you didn't choose to yell at the burly guy in the lifted truck with the NRA and confederate flag stickers.



Where was that guy? Did you miss the part about it being in Western Washington?

olperfesser


quality posts: 2 Private Messages olperfesser
javamatte wrote:SeaTac (and others, I'm sure) have a cell phone waiting lot. It's about 2 minutes from the loading/unloading ramp and they don't threaten to tow you if you park there for up to an hour.

Unfortunately, there aren't many signs. Just one labeled "Cell Phone Lot" which isn't terribly descriptive unless you were already looking for the pre-pickup waiting area named after a communication device.



Yes, I missed it the first time I went. It was on the right as we came into the airport area. The next day, was a breeze. We were in Seattle for a wedding. Since I arrived first, I rented the car. The next day I picked up my niece, and the following day, my daughter.

In FTL, where I live, the cell phone lot is very close in, right by the arrival entrance. But you have to drive a different route into the airport then out, then back in to get to it.

rayray099


quality posts: 6 Private Messages rayray099
llandar wrote:Where was that guy? Did you miss the part about it being in Western Washington?



There's at least one at every airport.
You were amazing!

kayak206


quality posts: 1 Private Messages kayak206

The correct way to be picked up at seatac airport is to take the light rail to beacon hill and have someone pick you up at the rail station.

Funny thing, I once knew someone who actually did get arrested at seatac airport for verbally assaulting someone who was violating the load zone.

amscray


quality posts: 0 Private Messages amscray

So because you couldn't yell at the jackass that left his car, you yelled at some random woman instead?

I gotta tell you, you're not a hero for being a self-righteous ass and yelling at some random woman because you were frustrated about the airport. I fly out of SeaTac all the time and I pick up from SeaTac all the time and I sure as hell have never been so angry that I needed to shout at someone sitting in their car waiting.

I haven't even yelled at the people that deserve it, the ones that open all their car doors for some reason, let their kids watch movies in the headrests, make room in their trunk or their minivan hatch while they wait to pick someone up 20 minutes from now. Life is just too short to be yelling at each other over this stuff.

The airport is the jackass that needs setting straight, not the average joe that is really just trying to go about their day.

unksol


quality posts: 13 Private Messages unksol
amscray wrote:So because you couldn't yell at the jackass that left his car, you yelled at some random woman instead?

I gotta tell you, you're not a hero for being a self-righteous ass and yelling at some random woman because you were frustrated about the airport...

The airport is the jackass that needs setting straight, not the average joe that is really just trying to go about their day.



That's certainly some strange logic you have going there... She clearly was violating the rules, and I hardly think loudly reading a sign to someone who is too lazy to read it themselves counts as yelling...

Yes the airport should have had people out there to do the yelling, but either way she's at fault. that's like arguing it's the cities fault some starving pilgrim is sitting at a green light or driving 60 through a school zone, and you shouldn't honk your horn.

davidbowser


quality posts: 2 Private Messages davidbowser
taiwanbob wrote:At Sea-Tac arrange your ride to pick you up at the departure (upper) level down at the far end by the international flights (EVA). Just make sure you stand downwind of the starving pilgrims smoking.



That's what we do at Newark, NJ (EWR). Otherwise, I just ask whoever is picking me up to park.

I have to state that passenger loading areas are a joke when short term parking is cheap. If it's less than $2 for the first 30 minutes (EWR is $3), and people are going to go in to baggage claim anyway, then they deserve a ticket for leaving their car.

amscray


quality posts: 0 Private Messages amscray
unksol wrote:That's certainly some strange logic you have going there... She clearly was violating the rules, and I hardly think loudly reading a sign to someone who is too lazy to read it themselves counts as yelling...

Yes the airport should have had people out there to do the yelling, but either way she's at fault. that's like arguing it's the cities fault some starving pilgrim is sitting at a green light or driving 60 through a school zone, and you shouldn't honk your horn.



He didn't honk. He screamed at her. He described it very clearly in his story. It wasn't loudly reading a sign, it was yelling. If he had simply honked at her, then he would be like everyone else in this city. Everyone honks at everyone in Seattle.

llandar


quality posts: 32 Private Messages llandar
amscray wrote:He didn't honk. He screamed at her. He described it very clearly in his story. It wasn't loudly reading a sign, it was yelling. If he had simply honked at her, then he would be like everyone else in this city. Everyone honks at everyone in Seattle.



Thank goodness someone yelled at me anonymously on the internet to correct how big a jerk I was for yelling at someone anonymously at the airport!

claudiajean


quality posts: 0 Private Messages claudiajean
amscray wrote:He didn't honk. He screamed at her. He described it very clearly in his story. It wasn't loudly reading a sign, it was yelling. If he had simply honked at her, then he would be like everyone else in this city. Everyone honks at everyone in Seattle.



You are clearly not from here. Meaning, not from Seattle. NOBODY honks in Seattle. Honking is considered exceptionally rude. You had better be hurtling down a 19% incline with complete brake failure and have toddlers in a crosswalk in your pathway, before honking is ever considered the courtesy warning a horn was intended to be.

As far as the starving pilgrim woman in the BMW, she admitted that her passenger to be picked up was "just getting off her plane".

Ahem, wha-at? Just getting off her freakin' plane?

Sea-Tac is a large airport. The passenger in mid de-plane was still a good fifteen minutes away from being out on the arrivals sidewalk and ready to immediately get in and go, twenty-five if she had checked luggage. There was no way on God's green earth that Ms. BMW should have even been in the scrum at the arrival lanes yet - she should have been out in the cell phone lot, or circling in the far outer lanes.

I'm glad the author spoke to her loudly, firmly, and/or yelled at her. Whatever it was. She deserved it.

(She actually deserved a spanking for being a selfish bee-atch parked in the arrival lanes, but sadly, no one in departures enforcement is apparently authorized to administer curbside spankings at Sea-Tac. That would quickly cut down on a lot of bad behavior.)