Estimated arrival time: 4:40 PM.
Actual arrival time: 5:10 PM.
I’m in Terminal 2? I’m not really sure. But the Internet says my 6:20 PM EVA flight to Taipei is departing from Terminal 1. I huff it with my pack from the arrival gate to the ticketing counters in whatever terminal I’m in. I ask a TSA agent what way to Terminal 1.
“That’s international, right?” He says.
“Go upstairs. Catch a SkyTrain to the International Terminal.”
But the Internet said…
I remember that you can walk easily between the terminals at SFO and follow the signs to Terminal 1 and the International Terminal.
In Terminal 1, I see a large group of Chinese people and think: maybe this is it? But they’re waiting in line to check in at Delta. And also, the flight leaves in less than 1 hour. I doubt this many people are running late. I keep power walking and see an information desk in the distance. But it’s worse than a mirage: once I get to it I see there’s no one there. I keep walking, deciding the Internet was probably wrong. My flight is leaving from the International Terminal, like common sense would suggest. I just hope the International Terminal isn’t too far away.
Power walking gets tiring so I jog. There are over 10 ticket aisles in the International Terminal, spanning over 150 meters. I’m at one end and EVA is at the other, so I jog the length. Aisle 3 is empty except for several workers in green EVA attire and a shaved-headed white woman wearing monk’s robes. I hand my passport to one of the clerks while another one asks: “Can you place your bag on the scale please miss?” It weighs 20 kilos. Is that too much? But I’m the one carrying it? “Overhead carry-on luggage is limited to 7 kilograms.” Since it’s a direct flight to Taipei and that’s my final destination, I don’t mind checking it. Without the pack, I can jog faster.
5:30 PM: Receive boarding pass.
5:40 PM: Boarding is scheduled to start.
At the security checkpoint I ask if there’s a faster line because my flight boards in 10 minutes.
“This is the fast line,” the TSA agent tells me. I try to occupy my mind with checking email and Facebook. I resolve that if I miss my flight, it’s OK. I’ll just go stay with family in Santa Cruz. But then I think of the hundreds of dollars I would’ve wasted on a ticket.
The line moves quickly and just before my backpack goes into the conveyor, a TSA agent grabs my water bottle.
“This can’t go through,” he says pointing to the few hundred milliliters I’d forgotten about. “You can throw it out—”
Don’t you know California’s in a drought dude! You can’t just waste water! I think as I chug the remaining liquid. The woman in front of me says: “Wow, that was fast.” But the thing is, this was not my most impressive airport security liquid chug. In Hong Kong, on my way to Mongolia, I did 800mL.
“Yeah,” I reply. “College training. But water is much more palatable than beer.”
Clearing security, I jog, again, to my gate. It’s about 5:55 PM, so I know I’m not in danger of missing the flight. But without the 20 kilograms on my back, the jog feels good; a refreshing exercise sandwiched between long airplane flights.
I arrive at my gate breathless and see on the gate informational screen that boarding time has been pushed back to 6:15 PM, but the departure time is still listed as 6:20 PM. What the fuck? I’m not mad it’s delayed. I’m mad they didn’t update the boards. Had they, I wouldn’t have jogged so much and maybe wouldn’t smell so sweaty.
I charge my phone and check my email and start writing this blog post. I go to the bathroom and pray to (the) airplane (G/g)od(s) that I get an aisle seat given that the last two flights I’ve done (11 hours from NRT -> ORD and 4 hours from ORD -> SFO) someone has asked me to give up my aisle seat so they can sit next to their family member and I have smiled and agreed and squished myself into a middle seat.
I post a farewell to Facebook in case the plane goes down and at 6:30 PM, we board and I find my aisle seat in an empty row at the back of the plane. There (is/are) (an/) airplane (G/g)od(s).