Tuesday. Time to return home. I head for the airport far too early for my flight, mostly because I’m trying to keep from paying an extra day for my rental car. Check-in is smooth and successful. I’m not checking my bag – probably they’ll make me do the gatecheck again – and I skip coffee for the present. It’s one of the few things that’s still free on flights, and I don’t want to be hopping up and down to the ladies room pre-flight. I can get my caffeine fix later.
The 9:47AM flight to Newark, which is the flight before mine, is actually leaving from the same gate my 11:50AM flight will depart. That never happens in Newark: they’d be on opposite sides of the airport. But no, the 9:47 (kismet, at it were) is leaving from the same gate. Is leaving, not has left, because it’s delayed. The weather system that moved in and rained all over me yesterday has stuck around, and is clogging up flights both here and there. My flight is still listed as on time, but Orbitz is emailing me with warnings of 75 minute delays across the board at present.
Harrumph. I’ma-go-get on this earlier flight, if I can.
Which I do.
Then I settle in to finish No Time for Kings, which is every bit the great read I’d heard it would be (and no surprise considering the talent of author Mark Petruska), and subsequently dive into The Hunger Games on GotC’s say-so. Very different, but also a great read. Eventually I get on a plane. Have coffee. Flight is a little bumpy, but not uncommonly so considering the weather. The landing is smooth.
And then they let us all off the plane, and we have to wait for the gate-checked baggage.
Let me just say that what’s great about gate-checked baggage is that they don’t charge you for it. Or they didn’t this time, probably only because by all rights we SHOULD have been able to carry on these bags, and it’s not really our fault the plane couldn’t accommodate them overhead.
The other thing that’s great about gate-checks is that at Newark Airport, baggage claim can take up to 45 minutes to get your bags to you. As if they don’t plan for the fact that you might, in fact, want your bags back post-flight. Whereas gate checks will take far less time. So if you have to check a bag, gate checks are much preferable.
Except. Well, this is strictly hypothetical, of course…
… but, well, except when your bags are going to baggage claim, you can do things like stop off at the restroom on your way there. Whereas if your bags are gate-checked, you have to wait for them at the end of the ramp. If you go up the ramp to use a potty, you’re not getting back down through the check-in to get to your stuff. So you would, hypothetically, have to stand there and wait for those bags. And if, say, you’ve had a cup of coffee in the air, and the flight was a few hours, and you didn’t need to go enough to fight the teensy little germfest they call a restroom in flight, but suddenly it hits you once you’re standing in the cool air of the ramp… you could find yourself trying really hard NOT to do the pee-pee dance while you wait for someone to get around to – oh yeah – opening the hatch and bringing some of the doggone bags up. You might feel a little guilty for praying for your bags to get pulled out first, when there are things like world peace to be prayed for. You might even be almost tempted to think mean things like, they should make whoever unloads gate check bags have to come do the job before they can use the bathroom, because for sure the job would get done in triple time then.
And then, in answer to your desperate but wholly undeserving prayers, your bag might be the very first bag off the plane, and you might get to it before anyone else can even register that bags are arriving and start crowding up, and you could be the very first person to the ladies room, and so far ahead of your airport pickup that you feel a little silly standing out there.
But you’d be nearly home, after a New Places adventure, and it would just all be good.