Phoenix: City of a Thousand Stories

A collection of events from the airports I traveled to get to and from Phoenix, Arizona (namely Houston and Minneapolis/St. Paul):

All in Good Fun

The security reminder announcement (“…threat condition orange…”) in Houston includes this memorable line:

You are also reminded that any inappropriate remarks or jokes concerning security may result in your arrest.

This did not stop the gate agents for my flight from joking with one passenger, “Wait, this boarding pass is ripped.  Susan, what does that mean?  Don’t we have to put her on the next flight?”  I chuckled a little, but the passenger herself wasn’t amused, having already been delayed and rerouted twice that day.  Oops.

No; Are You a Security Threat?

Walking through Terminal E in Houston, I saw a woman flag down a uniformed airline employee.  This exchange followed:

Her: Excuse me, are you security?
Him:  No.
Her: Oh.

She walked on.  Just in case she knew something I didn’t, I walked the other way.

Sterility is a Relative Term

On the inside of a Jetway door in Minneapolis/St. Paul (i.e., the door facing into the airport), was a sign that read:

Now entering the sterile area

The “sterile area” is, of course, the part of the airport where everyone has already been screened.  If airport security works correctly, no weapons of any kind will ever be found in the sterile area.  Nor will too much toothpaste.

This begs an obvious question: shouldn’t the tarmac, where the planes are, also be part of the sterile area?

Am I Putting Him On or is He Putting Me On?

I overheard this snippet of a phone call while strolling through Terminal E in Houston:

In the upper right corner there’s a box that says “Search Mail.”  …  Right, it says “Search Mail.”  …  Yeah … Yeah … Okay, so do you see the box that says “Search Mail?”  … Right, it’s in the upper right corner … It doesn’t matter; just click Inbox.  Whatever.  Now in the upper right corner do you see the box that says “Search Mail?” … Okay, good.  Now type “Continental” … In the box that says “Search Mail” … It’s in the upper right corner.

The airport offers wireless Internet access for $8 a day.  After a few more minutes of that, that sounds like a bargain.

Airport Manners in the Twenty-First Century

The woman across the aisle from me on my flight into Boston caught our flight attendant’s attention.

The gentleman in seat 20F switched seats with me, and I’d like to buy him a drink.

I was first struck by how nice a gesture that was, and then immediately struck by how low our standards for manners have gotten, at least aboard aircraft, if a $5 drink as repayment for a kind act is as noteworthy as I interpreted it.  (To be clear, I find no fault whatsoever with the woman herself or her offer, which was indeed a nice gesture.  My concern is for the rest of society who have rendered it more impressive than it ought to have been.)

America’s Friendliest (and Most Quizzical) Airport

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport offers free wireless Internet access in addition to having abundant power outlets scattered throughout the waiting areas (at least in Terminal 2).  As with most such networks, users must accept the terms of service before gaining access to the Internet, via a page that looks like this:

Phoenix Sky Harbor Internet

Phoenix Sky Harbor Internet

Anybody else pause at that first question?  It reads:

How Friendly is Phoenix Sky Harbor today?

The possible responses are:

America’s Friendliest
Very Friendly
Not Friendly

For the record, it was very friendly.  I can’t in good conscious declare it “America’s Friendliest” having not yet visited many of our nation’s major airports.