Things I Learned at SFO

The Airport Life of Pablo, Part 1

Free as in WiFi

My iPhone is off. It won’t turn back on. I’m stuck all day at SFO with deadlines in D.C. with a layover in Denver in between. Coffee at Starbucks. I open my Macbook. The WiFi defaults to “attwifi” network. I shop around.

The WiFi at SFO is free. Like, legit free. You choose it. You click an agreement you don’t read. And in seconds you have free WiFi at the airport.

The only other airport I’ve been to with free WiFi was NCE. The WiFi there was terrible but I fell in love with the principle: free WiFi in airports keeps me productive and efficient. It’s an economic win for America.

Frontier Airlines is Cheap and Nimble

Frontier Airlines isn’t always on time. Sometimes airports forget about them on the tarmac. But you can switch your ticket for a negligible fee, by industry standards. I’ve had to move my flight back to DCA twice — once for an unscheduled meeting that came up, the other because I overslept. At the counter, I immediately admitted oversleeping, to make things easier. She got me on the next flight right away for a very reasonable Idiot’s Fee of $12.

Be Easy On Airport Checkin Counter Attendants

The gal she’d attended before me at the counter left in tears. She was going to miss something very important, like her valedictory address or a twin sister’s wedding, that only happens once in a lifetime.

The two bros queued up beside me weren’t buying it. They admired the tears but stayed focused on the prize. We’re all going to Denver, he said, on a last minute switch because we were late. “We are idiots,” one bro admitted. He was right.

On the other hand, the checkin attendant is innocent. Her job is to keep the line moving until the end of her shift. Low-maintenance is the highest value a customer can offer her. Since we were all going to Denver, the two bros and I teamed up, approached the counter together with smiles and humility. We were through in seven minutes and now we’re on our way home.

Ooorah SFO

I travel with a standard-issue, heavy duty Marine Corps garment bag, a gift from a dear friend who served with it through three tours in Afghanistan. It is a magnificent piece of luggage, capable of transporting 3 suits, 4 shirts, 2 pairs of shoes, underwear, socks, 2 Moleskine notebooks, a Macbook air, a shower kit, with flying colors. As a conversation starter at SFO, however, it inspires a very different bag of tricks from the imaginations of total strangers — mostly conspiracy theories about “the government” and “Washington”, where I land this afternoon.

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