Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Happens in the Local Airport after Midnight?

I have the opportunity, I guess more often than I would really like, to see first hand the answer to the title question.

The airport is Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood-Marshall Airport. Affectionately known as BWI.

BWI Concourse D after Midnight,
September 17, 2010

I live 10 minutes from the airport. I have realized that because I live so close, when friends or family are arriving all they have to do is call me from the aircraft when the plane lands, as soon as they allow cell phones to be turned on, and I have plenty of time to get to them before they deplane and retrieve their bags. I usually check into the Cell Phone lot and await the call that the bags have been found and they are ready to depart.

It is really convenient.

But after midnight--the bustling place that during the day is BWI--with often 30 minute waits to make it through security, becomes a ghost town.

It is really weird to be walking through the deserted concourses.

And I was arriving on a scheduled flight just a bit early--not even late! And because I was on United (my favorite airline) I knew from listening in on the pilots communications that there were about three other flights arriving within a few minutes of us.

The people in the image are my fellow fliers who also rode United flight 168 from Denver to Baltimore.

For over three hours, we had been confined in a close space. Closer than friends. But once the cabin door was opened,  all I saw of my flight mates was their backsides. Everyone was in a hurry, streaming past the closed and deserted shops to retrieve baggage and make their way home or to their true final destination.

I know some had a long trip.

I was lucky.

Withing 45 minutes of landing (not deplaning, but from when the wheels touched the runway) I was home.

I had passed through the ghostly empty airport.

I also got lucky on a shuttle ride to the parking lot. It is so rare when the shuttle pulls up just as I arrive at the pick-up point.

And the truck roared to life as I turned the key.  It carried me home to complete the trip.

I hope everyone else who rode Flight 168 with me into the deserted BWI had a smooth trip.

It is good to be home--because after midnight at BWI, nothing happens.

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