If you had walked into the East Terminal at Lambert Airport this morning, you wouldn’t have believed we’re in a recession.
I was there to catch a 7am flight to Vegas, where I’ll play in a couple of tournaments this weekend. Normally, if I get there by 6am, I can breeze through, get a bagel and juice and a newspapers, and have plenty of time to get on the Southwest non-stop.
Today was anything but normal. The place was packed, with the line for the security checkpoint almost out the door. Only two airlines operate out of that terminal — USA 3000 is the other one, and this was one of the days they fly to Orlando and other warm places.
Among the hundreds of people waiting to do the TSA dance were lots of families taking advantage of the holiday weekend to get away, with dozens of bleary-eyed children clutching teddy bears while trying to temper their early-morning exhaustion with their excitement about going to Disneyworld. I looked at them and thought, kid, if you think this is bad, wait until you see the line for Space Mountain.
Although one TSA agent went through the line lying to us (“this will only be a few minutes more”), another agent — aware that some of these travelers may not fly very often and were thus unaware of the security rules — kept going through the line offering plastic bags for liquids and gels and reminding people to throw away their water bottles. Still, there are always some people who don’t pay attention, and they were the ones slowing down the proceedings even more. One guy in front of me either didn’t understand what metal is, or he was begging for a strip search. If you listened closely, you could hear the more experienced flyers in line silently shouting, “C’mon buddy, I got a plane to catch!”
In the end, instead of the usual 5 minutes to clear security, it took me about 35 to get to the other side, where I quickly grabbed some breakfast to go and made it onto the plane with minutes to spare. Surprisingly, there was still room in the back — even an aisle seat! — but by the time everyone else made it, we were at capacity, and I wondered again what all of this said about the state of our economy.