Goodbye to the airport curbside pickup slow dance.
You may have missed this news tidbit from earlier this week, but it rocked my world: our airport has a new cellphone lot.
Located just off International Gateway approaching the terminal and next to the Blue Lot, the new designated spot for drivers meeting arrivals will, according to the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, remain free of charge and is larger and more conveniently located than the previous lot.
Chances are, you were unaware that the previous lot existed. I certainly was. Signage was minimal, and you nearly had to exit the airport to access it. Who would notice it? If you were going to the airport to pick up a loved one, you wouldn’t drive past the cellphone lot until after you’d completed your mission.
As someone whose spouse travels often and whose other family members reside well beyond driving distance from Columbus, airport pickup is a mission I know well. And despite the fact that as airports go, CMH—I mean John Glenn Columbus International Airport—is relatively small and convenient, it’s much easier to scoop up your arriving passengers at the curb than it is to meet them inside.
That latter approach not only involves paying for parking; it also often leads to uncertainty. There you are, waiting at the security checkpoint at their arrival terminal, frantically texting and hoping your passenger didn’t forget to turn their cellphone on after landing and has already slipped down the escalator to baggage claim ahead of you. By the time you’ve finally connected, watched your loved ones reunite with their bags and headed back up together to Parking Level Five, a person can feel like she’s completed a full day’s work.
My mom gets the meet-and-greet treatment; after 20 years of marriage, my husband does not. He’s a curbside pickup. But since I’m responsible and airlines are not, I usually get there early. And the dance begins.
It’s a slow dance. On the roadway outside baggage claim in Columbus, there is only one permissible action for drivers: KEEP MOVING. And so for drivers whose party has not yet arrived at the curb, the goal is to drive very, very slowly.
There are numerous trick moves: pretending not to see the uniformed traffic officer who is directing you to speed up and continue on through (and he knows your game); “accidentally” getting trapped behind a car that’s loading passengers (if you’re lucky, you’ll get boxed in by traffic going around you, in which case you can just shrug at the traffic enforcer as if to say, “I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do”); waving other drivers to go around you; and slowing as you approach the crosswalk in hopes that a group of overburdened pedestrians will appear, forcing you to stop and wait.
Anything to avoid exiting the area and having to circle around and begin the dance again. Which, inevitably, you will have to do--likely three or four times before the person you are meeting emerges from the terminal and waves you over to the curb.
I’ve done this dance many, many times, and I’m sure you have as well. Now that I have a teenage driver in the house, I’ve instructed him on how to carry out this dance successfully.
But today, thanks to the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, I’m done dancing. There’s a new cellphone lot at John Glenn Columbus International Airport, and I intend to use it. You’ll find me there at the wheel of my car, reading a book or a magazine or maybe playing Words With Friends. And when it’s time to pick up my husband or visitor, I’ll drive right up to the terminal entrance. At regular speed.