Airports aren’t places made to run; the floors are slippery, passages are always packed with families dropping their loved ones off and sometimes little children chasing each other around while awaiting for parents to wrap bags or check in.
This makes it impossible to get anywhere, especially when you’re late for your flight. I pride myself on the fact that I’ve only ever missed two flights.
There was a time in my life where I was a frequent flyer, but so frequent that the staff at the Vida Café at OR Tambo knew my name. I’d pick up my latte and they would all chant the Vida greeting that’s sung to all coffee-buying customers and someone would always ask me: “So where are you flying to today, ma’am?”.
It was usually domestic, so I would grunt “Cape Town” or “Durban”. The grunting was due to the fact that I’m so paranoid about missing a flight, I hardly got any shut-eye the night before.
I’d get up that morning at 4am and take a cold shower to force myself to wake up. Then I would drive to the airport and, because I’m on the company budget and have to pay the cheapest amount, I’d always park at shade one or two parking, which is a fraction of the cost of the normal exorbitant airport parking fee. I guess you pay less to walk or run further.
I’ve missed two flights. For the first one I blame the Gautrain. That morning the train stopped for at least half an hour with the explanation that cables were stolen in the middle of the night and the train couldn’t run.
The second was just plain negligence on my part. Not allowing enough time for the drive, I got stuck for an hour because of an accident on the highway. Having a persistent nature pushed me to keep driving and beg the lady at the check-in counter to let me on. Her response was that I could book another ticket for an additional amount. Lesson learned.
I vowed I would never miss a flight again, and I haven’t since. Even if it means sleeping on one of those cold metal benches.
This isn’t a confession, but I’ve done that too.
Dummy’s guide to not missing a flight
1, Always check into your flight via your computer or phone 24 hours before. Plan your time. The airport is big and that run will seem much longer when you’re late. Decide on your parking budget before you park.
2. Log on to Travelstart for online check-in. There are options for all international flights so you can find yours, check in and download your boarding pass, which saves you that extra time.
3. For long-term parking, visit the ACSA website. There are many parking options and off-site parking involves taking a shuttle that operates at 15-minute intervals, which would make time management key.