The comfort of my travel routine & people watching at 5:00am

George Clooney’s character in “Up In The Air” had a specific and efficient routine when traveling. From packing his bag at home, to checking in at the kiosk, to getting through security and entering the lounge, it was essentially a well choreographed ballet. I, too, have my own routine, and while it is just that – a routine – I am very much conscious of my steps and relish every moment since I love to travel.

I’m an early riser and prefer the 6am bank of flights out of LAX. The night before, I pack my bag in a particular fashion depending on the type of trip (work, vacation, mileage run, etc) and set both my alarm clock and cell phone alarm (out of paranoia). My brain is so programmed for early flights, though, I usually wake before the alarms. I jump in the shower and hit the road, driving the same route, parking in the same lot (virtually the same space), and catch the shuttle to the terminal. I re-print my boarding pass, get through security with organizational precision, and walk to the lounge.

I feel like I’m “home” when I’m strolling through Terminal 7 and experience the usual sights, sounds and smells (as bad as they can be). That early in the morning, I generally hear the same terrible elevator music, smell the first waft of a McDonald’s breakfast (nasty!), and hear the rolling metal doors opening at Starbucks & Hudsons News. I get my first dose of caffeine and head back to sit across from the Red Carpet Club in gate area 71A and wait for opening at 5:00am. The Hawaii flights are usually arriving and I sit there and watch the bleary-eyed & often sunburnt travelers make their way to baggage claim or stick around for connecting flights.

I’m most entertained by watching the behavior of people approach the Red Carpet Club doors and realize it’s not yet open. Most either look at their watch and find the posted hours or ring the bell for entry assuming the door must not work. When they discover the time, some come across and sit in the same area I do, some stand and line up (as early as 20-minutes before opening!), and some walk the concourse for something to do. About five minutes to opening, the RCC agent comes out to collect the morning newspaper bundles, and some think that’s the sign of opening, but wait… “Five more minutes,” the agent explains.

And so, as commonplace as travel has become for me, it has always been something I love to do and provides an enormous amount of comfort, peace and joy. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from Frequently Flying!

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