Five Life Lessons I Learned At Airport Security

In an attempt avoid sounding dramatic, this morning was a test on my patience and on my marriage. My husband and I are traveling to Chicago this weekend to visit friends and explore the city. Our flight this morning was scheduled to depart at 7:40am, which meant I had to be up and out the door by 5:15am (those that know me know that I’m not a pleasant person to be around before 6:30am). At 10:00pm last night, I checked us in and had our boarding passes emailed to me. This is where I learned my first lesson:

Come Prepared
The name on my boarding pass was my maiden name. I immediately ask my husband how he could have booked a flight with my old last name when we have been married for over a year, and he said he had no idea. There wasn’t much I could do about it at this point. I googled (Google has saved me on more than one occasion) what I could do, and I found that if I brought my old ID (which thankfully I still had) and my marriage license, I should be fine. Okay, a little extra work, but not a big deal. I can handle this. However, had I checked the flight reservations earlier or had my husband double checked the reservation before he booked, we may have been able to correct the name on the ticket. Thankfully I checked us in the night before so I could come prepared to the airport with my extra forms of ID.

This morning we ran a few minutes late and left at 5:25am, so I was unable to get my vanilla chi from Dunkin Donuts (I know, I know, first world problems-but this lack of caffeine and pick-me-up definitely impacted what was to come). We get to the airport at 6:20am and immediately head to security. Our boarding time is 7:05am and it is only about a projected 10 minute wait at security, so I relax a little thinking we should be okay. Wrong. This is where I learned my second lesson:

Arrive Early
We get to the security checkpoint and they are telling me my ID’s and marriage license will not be enough and that I need to go to United to get my name changed. I informed them that I looked up TSA policies that stated those should work, but they said that was incorrect. After 10 minutes and three security officers later, they agree I should go to the United desk. A security officer named Hughes (who will forever be a hero in my eyes) escorted us over and said to come see him if it did not work and he would help us. We head over to United and wait 15 minutes and talk to three representatives. All three were rude, and all three stated they could not change my ticket and that TSA should accept it. By the time the third United rep tells me this, I’m literally in tears and shooting daggers at my husband (because at this point I have clearly blamed him for all of this). The United rep rudely tells me to stop crying and my husband is angry and telling me we should just forget the trip. I’m stressed because I hate flying and I hate being late, so I’m almost ready to give up on the trip as well. Had I arrived earlier, I may have felt less stressed and had more time to resolve the issue.

We give up at the United desk and run back over to security. Hughes (my TSA hero) is there waiting and rushes us over. He gets me approved through security with the condition that I get patted down and have my bags searched. It is here where I learn my next lesson:

Kill Them With Kindness
Hughes the TSA capeless hero takes us to the front of security. The woman who has to pat me down is irritated because she has to leave her station and is rudely saying I’ll have to wait longer. I want to scream because at this point we have 10 minutes to get to our flight to board and I cannot handle one more rude person. However, common sense kicked in, I took a deep breath, and I said, “ma’am, I’m so sorry you have to do this. I know it isn’t your fault and I truly appreciate you going out of your way to help me get to my flight on time. It means so much to me.” Boom. Game Changer. She smiles and says it was a rough morning for her too but she doesn’t mind helping me. She pats me down quickly and helps me get my bags searched more quickly. It sounds like common sense and it sounds cliche, but kindness truly can change the world people. Hughes the TSA miracle worker helps us finish up and we make it to our terminal just in time to start boarding. By this point I’ve learned my fourth lesson:

Stay Positive
My husband and I did not treat each other well during this process. I was snapping at him and blaming him, he was yelling at me because he felt defensive, and the start of our trip was starting to give us the impression that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to go. However, standing in line to board, my husband leans in, gives me a kiss, and apologizes for his mistake and the stress it caused. I apologized for my negative attitude and for not being more understanding that he is a human being who is allowed to make mistakes. Sometimes in our disagreements I’m the first to apologize, and other times he is. What matters is that one person takes that first step. If we had both been more positive and understanding with each other, we could have supported each other and made the experience less stressful. We aren’t perfect, but hopefully next time we can be more proactive. That insight leads to me my last (and what I consider to be the most important) lesson:

Feed Yourself
Remember that first world problem where I didn’t get my vanilla chi? Turns out it was a very important part of our journey this morning. I need to eat. Eating is very important to me. I will be the first to admit that if I go too long without eating, I am all sorts of hangry. Skipping my vanilla chi and not having time to pack a breakfast was the biggest negative game changer of them all. Eat people. Take care of yourself. My body and brain didn’t have the nutrients and energy they needed this morning to properly function. I know a vanilla chi isn’t healthy (and there will be future posts on being able to eat healthy and still have it taste delicious), but I know if I had fed myself I would have been in a much better mood.

We are now on the plane with just a couple hours left until we land in Chicago. It’s been a crazy, stressful morning, but sometimes that’s just the way life happens. Hopefully next time we travel I’ll remember these five lessons. And hopefully I’ll continue to incorporate them in my life, relationships, and marriage.

More to come next time from Chicago!

Until the next journey,


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