Get to the airport early, they say. Listen, I did not.

A drawing of Hannah running through the airport with her suitcase

Running with the Loaf.

By Hannah Grahek*

I am riding in the car. The anticipation of the vacation my family is about to embark on is building inside me. We arrive at the airport and the excitement dwindles for I know what comes next.

Waiting.

The inexplicable annoyance that comes from sitting in the dreadfully uncomfortable airport chairs for two or more hours. Honestly, can the airport not get more comfortable seating options? I'm not asking for a lazy boy here, just something I can stretch out my barely five foot self out on. These are the thoughts that are running through my adolescent mind. I just could not grasp the need to get there so early for what seemed like pointless reasons. Two hours can seem like an eternity when you're an anxious little gal ready to be on the beach.

Fast forward to present day. After now sprinting through the airport with a loaf of a duffle bag strapped to my back (rolling carry on bags were invented for a good reason), I now finally get it. It only took me three separate instances to figure it out.

Get to the airport early.

As smooth as some flights go, there is always the chance that others will not. This I discovered. The first time I flew abroad went smooth as ice. I had my mother's voice ringing in my head and I got there early, I actually did! But I soon found that that impatient voice was still in my head as I sat in the rigid chairs for the next few hours. I questioned if this whole process of arriving early is even necessary. Everyone's warnings quickly began to fade.

But then came Dublin.

We traveled to Dublin over the weekend of St Patrick’s Day. Our flight left at 11 a.m. on Sunday, and to say we got a slow moving start to the day would sadly be an understatement. When we finally emerged from the apartment to catch our bus to the airport we realized that we had missed it. Great, we thought, the worry not yet building about missing our flight during Dublin’s busiest travel weekends, but more so the dread of paying for a cab. After we hailed one and gave our destination to the driver it dawned on me how close on time we were cutting it. We were going to arrive at the airport at the time our flight started boarding. We told the driver our situation, to which he responded with an, "oh, you know you're supposed to be there at least an hour prior to boarding time" So I've been told...

We get to the airport and frantically run inside, loaf and all, and try to find out where we check in. Anxiety skyrocketed as we raced around not knowing if we'd be able to make it out of Ireland that day. As we manically ran through the airport we knew what everyone was thinking: "Just get here earlier." At one point my friend's backpack zipper conveniently decided it no longer wanted to stay zipped and products flew everywhere. Tears were on the horizon. It was a mess.

By some grace of God, we made it to our gate and they were still boarding. At this point all we could do was laugh at how ridiculous the last hour had been. We knew the situation could have been completely avoided.

I am embarrassed to say that it took another two times frantically running through the airport for the lesson to finally stick. I can confidently say I will do everything in my power to avoid running through the airport in future traveling endeavors. As dull as it can be to wait in the airport, it is worth it to avoid the headache. There are many steps one has to go through before they board their flight. One needs to find the area they check in, then go through security and lastly find their gate where their plane departs. Sometimes these steps can go quickly, but there is always the chance that the lines will be long. In many cases it took us fifteen minutes to just walk to the gate. No one wants to start or end his or her trip in a stressful mindset. It is just not worth it.

I now join the masses when I say, just get to the airport early.

*Hannah Grahek is a communications studies major with a certificate in fundraising and philanthropy communication at the University of Iowa. The junior, originally from Oskaloosa, Iowa, will be spending her semester on the API program in Florence, Italy.

Student blog entries posted to this International Accents page may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UI Study Abroad and International Programs.  The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

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