Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

Dear Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport,

My recent overnight stay in your older but generally uninteresting Terminal 2 due to a canceled red eye flight was not really the highlight of my trip, but it did certainly put an unusual cap on what had turned out to be a rather unpredictable excursion overseas.

Being part of a group of people who have just had their lives changed by those silly words, "Flight Canceled" is not always a nice experience, but at Sky Harbor, at least it wasn't sooo horrific. It must be said that at least the place is kept clean. Since I was not allowed to stay in the gate area, I was witness to the cleaning crews as they waged war on dust particles all along the "lobby". As I loitered in what must be the world's most uncomfortable seats I was treated to one woman "training" two others how to clean. Not really a lot of fun, but was very entertaining since none of the three had a common language.

I've been using Sky Harbor Airport since the mid 80's when jetways were a luxury and disembarking customers were shuttled down steps onto the slightly mushy tarmac which had been subjected to the heat of both jet engines as well as the wilting temps of the Phoenix desert weather.

Perhaps I should let it be known that I think the name Sky Harbor is fantastic. It is a harbor for things which fly through the sky. How simple, how eloquent, how lovely.

Also, the airport's fantastic location in relation to where my Mother lives has made visiting her oh so very simple. My Mother and brother live 10 and 15 minutes away respectively, how great is that? I can pretty much call my brother right after touch down and know that he will be waiting for me outside after I pick up my luggage.

IF they didn't live so close, there are great options such as the "Cell Phone Waiting Lot" system which is pure genius! How smart is that? Call your source of transportation as you see your bag pop out of the baggage claim, and BOOM, they drive directly out of the special lot to your pick up point!

May I just discuss another point of genius? Free Wi-Fi everywhere in the airport! How freaking fantastic is this? Flight canceled? Crank up that computer and see what else is available. Bored while waiting for your flight? Play some online video games, catch up on a little work, or simply research your next vacation.

Need to get a message to a passenger coming into Sky Harbor? You can either do this through the Internet, onsite at a special terminal, or by phone. At the baggage claim and at other areas throughout the terminal there are huge signs with PAL (Paging Assistance Location) displaying personal messages such as; "Bill and Judy, we'll be on the north side exit waiting for you at door number 5". Wow!

Years ago I had a proposal of marriage in one of PHX's terminals but perhaps the PAL system would have been better for this. The girl I was dating had been thinking for some time about popping the question to me. We were going to be in the same terminal of PHX within about 12 hours of each other. She called me and told me to visit the ladies restroom closest to blah blah (I say blah blah because I have long since forgotten the details) gate. Then I was to go into a particular stall and get my message. As I had suspected she was asking me again in a new and different way if I would marry her. No, I didn't take her up on it and later when we met again in Wichita I turned her down again. Moral of the story, never accept a proposal of marriage made in a toilet or from someone who would think that location was cool/romantic.

Then there was the Box Knife Incident. It was fall of 2002 and I was to catch a flight in Terminal 4. I went through security to my gate only to find it was still deserted because I was there so very early. Already seated there and looking bored was a woman who checked me out surreptitiously when I came to sit down. As I neared my chosen area I saw a box knife simply lying discarded on one of the seats. This was much like the weapons supposedly used by the terrorists on 9/11.

I approached it while visions danced through my head of the security detail I had just gone through to get to this supposedly "secure" area of the airport. Once again I met the eyes of the only other passenger in the waiting area. As I looked from her back to the box cutter I got the idea that she had already noticed what I had found and was also unwilling to touch it.

Eventually we talked about it and I told her that I would like to take the potential weapon of mass destruction to the check in desk, but that I would like her to confirm to anyone with further questions that it was sitting there before I had even made it to the area. She concurred and we talked for a minute or two about how that thing could have gotten past security and why on earth someone had abandoned it there. Soon I got up and carried it very cautiously (you know, by the edges to keep from smudging any possible fingerprints - have I watched too many cop shows or what?) over to the desk with three airline employees.

The airline representative took one look at what for me was a dangerous object and simply grabbed it out of my hand (not caring about any fingerprints, let me tell you) and threw it in the trash can at her feet. I nervously told her that it was not mine, that I had found it on a seat in the waiting area opposite, and that I was worried about it. She dismissively told me that I had done the right thing and that now it was safe. WTF? It was safe? In her trash can? To this day I often wonder if that was some kind of test.

Through the years I've been in and out of this airport MANY times. So many times that I know which side of the plane to sit on to get the best view of "A Mountain", and what time of day is best to see shadows on the ridges of the local physical geography. Want any of that goofy information? Simply ask.

OK, enough of airports... let's get a look at a frustrated kitty.
Oh, you have to watch through to the end. ;)

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le0pard13 said...

Great airport stories, SnB. You have to appreciate airports with free Wi-Fi. I just wish our own LAX would see the wisdom of it (I'm not holding my breath, though). Thanks for this.

cliff1976 said...

It is a harbor for things which fly through the sky. How simple, how eloquent, how lovely.

Sounds a lot better than Flughafen, doesn't it?

Snooker said...

@ Le0pard - Wi-Fi should quite simply be free in most public places. I like the trend in America for companies (stores, public spots, hotels) to have it available for customers. Now if Europe would just catch on.

@ Cliff - Tee hee hee. You're absolutely correct there my good man. Sky Harbor flies off the tongue with ease. Flughafen sounds to me like some goofy misspelling. ;)

Goofball said...

free wi-fi is great!!!!

funny airport stories, they sure are a universe on their own

loved the kitty very much as well!

AstroYoga said...

Love the free WiFi at Skyharbor. I think the airport in Maui has it too. Aside from that, I've never been at another airport with free wifi.

The cat reminds me a LOT of my toddler in that video.

Michelle said...

That kitty is adorable!

Kristen said...

Nice stories.!!I had so much fun,free wifi is indeed nice..I love the cat on the video,he cat looks so cute..!
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