Ask the Airport Employee

at the gates

A wintery day on Concourse B. Hey American – keep it down! That’s my office right there!

Since the cold, wet winter weather has set in, I am no longer able to sneak off to my favorite outdoor plane spotting locations at lunch time.  Instead, I’ve taken to wandering the terminal and doing my plane spotting from the inside.  I have to sport my SIDA badge at all times, so it is pretty easy for the average traveler to figure out that I’m an airport employee.  I must seem like an approachable person because they’re starting to come to me for assistance and to ask questions.  Here are some of the most common questions I get asked:

Where is the bathroom?

Bathroom-gender-sign jpeg

The bathrooms are located there… and there… and there… and there…

I can’t speak to all airports everywhere, but most airports I’ve been in are pretty liberal in their bathroom placement.  That is to say, generally you don’t have to go very far or look very hard to find a potty.  This is certainly true at my airport.  Even with all the construction going on, most of the bathrooms are open and the airport has taken pains to place signs for them all over the place.  And yet, I still get asked this question. My standard answer has become “Oh, it’s just up ahead.” Or sometimes for a change of pace I’ll say, “It’s just around the corner!” The truth is, I may or may not have any idea precisely where the nearest bathroom is, but it really doesn’t matter because honestly, they’re everywhere.

Where is gate ____?

airport map

Um… what???

I understand the stress of trying to find your gate in a strange airport. Many years ago I was traveling through Mexico City on my way to a meeting in Puerto Vallarta.  I’m convinced that whoever had the job of assigning gate numbers in the Mexico City airport had a mean sense of humor, or was drunk, or handed the job off to the nearest 5 year old child. My co-worker and I were trying desperately to find our gate – I think it was A7.  It seemed logical to us that it would be located in A concourse. Wrong! So far as we could tell, there was no A concourse. As the time for our flight grew closer and closer, we were forced to utilize our toddler-level Spanish to attempt to get assistance in finding our gate.  Eventually we managed to locate it near B7. Which was near C7. And D7.  And no, there’s no concourse 7.


Gate B23 plays a really poor game of hide and seek.

This is why I’m pleased that my airport is laid out in a way that makes sense. Even if you aren’t familiar with the layout, there are clearly visible and easy to understand signs which direct travelers to the gates. And yet, I still get asked for directions.  Most recently a young man asked me how to find gate B32.  I pointed up at the GARGANTUAN, can’t-miss, neon yellow sign which loudly proclaimed gate B32 to be just a few steps down the corridor. And yes, the traveler spoke English quite plainly.

Where is my family picking me up?

pick up

Your family will pick you up here. Or there.

This was a fun question that I got asked just last week. I responded with, “I’m not sure. Where did they tell you they were picking you up?” She responded “The same place they dropped me off.” OK… “Well where did they drop you off?” She paused. “I think in the passenger drop-off area.”  Although my airport might seem big, there really are only two entrances – the ticketing level and the baggage level.  The ticketing level is up, the baggage level is down.  Wait in one place for a few and if you don’t see your family, try the other.  Or there’s this handy gadget that pretty much everyone has these days called a cell phone.  You could try contacting them. Or there are taxis and shuttles and rental cars. Ultimately I told her to try waiting upstairs since they most likely dropped her off at ticketing.  She wasn’t still standing there the next morning so I can only assume she managed to find her family.  Or she stole a rental car.

My flight is at 7am on Sunday – do you want to meet up?

take off morning

Taking off into the sunrise.

OK, this question is one I get asked by friends who, for whatever reason, always seem to be flying at very early hours on the weekend.  Do I want to meet up at 6am on a Sunday? Are you kidding me? I love the airport and all but let’s not forget – it IS the place where I work.  Are you hanging out at your office at 6am on your day off? To be honest, I think what my friends are really after is my airport employee discount at Starbucks.  But if any of them ever decide to travel mid-afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday then I probably would stop by to see them off. And by that I mean, watch their airplane roar into the sky.  I am, after all, an avgeek.  It’s what we do.

6 thoughts on “Ask the Airport Employee

    • I didn’t think of that Airplaneviewer, but you’re right. In the case of those who can’t find the gate (or bathroom) right in front of them, I prefer to hope they’re just really nervous and it’s clouding their ability to think.


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