The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Best Laid Plans

The fine, up-standing police officers that control traffic at the Philadelphia International Airport do not allow lolly-gagging around the pick-up lane for arriving flights. Actually, they don't allow a full stop. You can slow your car down to about 3 miles per hour, and the person who needs to be picked-up must accurately throw their luggage into your car and then jump in themselves. If you attempt to fully stop your car, you will be chastized publicly by a police officer, blowing his whistle, pointing at you, jumping up and down, and waving his arms.

Because of this, if you find yourself driving to PHL, you'll see cars parked on the shoulder of the exit ramp leading to the airport. In the current cell phone age, people wait in their cars for the call that tells them that the person who needs picking-up is standing in the median, ready and waiting. If you do not do this, you will drive by the pick-up location, not see said person, and have to circle the entire airport. Not fun.

This Thanksgiving, the Bread Winner's mother came to town. Through the Bread Winner, I relayed all of this information. I told her to call me when she was standing on the curb and then I would show up minutes later and retrieve her. "Call when I get off the plane to let you know I've landed?" No, when you are standing on the curb. "Call when I get to baggage claim?" No, when you are standing on the curb. "Call when the baggage starts appearing at baggage claim?" No, when you are standing on the curb. I swear to you, it will take longer if I have to drive around the airport, and I will have to drive around the airport if you are not standing on the goddamn curb.

So what does she do? Why, she calls me when they get off the plane. This is my mother-in-law, and although I was tempted to say, "Weren't you listening when we went over this a few weeks ago? Call me when you're standing on the curb!" I bit my tongue and said, "Okay."

I found myself having to guess how long it would take her to walk from her gate to baggage claim (she ended up not checking baggage, but she still needed to go to baggage claim to leave from the doors that would place her in the pick-up location). I decided to give her five minutes. Then, with a feeling in my stomach that said, You'll soon be driving around the airport, I pulled off from the shoulder and followed the signs for Arriving Flights.

Naturally, she wasn't standing on the curb. Naturally, as I attempted to stop my car to wait for her, a police officer ran at me and with his eyes he accused me of committing a crime worse than mass murder. So off I went. As I was winding my way around the airport, she called again to tell me that she was, in fact, standing on the curb. I asked her to tell me what terminal she was at. She said she couldn't see any signs. I asked her to tell me what signs she could see. Then I told her to be sure to be standing on the median and not the curb next to the airport (the curb next to the airport is for buses and such, while the median is for car pick-up). She said, "There's no median." What do you mean, There's no median? "There's no median." Ah, thanks for the clarification. Only, there is a median in the pick-up area, so you see why I'm confused.

I heard her turn away from the phone and say to one of those aforementioned police officers, "The person who is trying to pick me up can't fine me." Oh, so now this is my fault?

There I hear the police officer say over the traffic noise, "You're on the wrong side of the airport. This is for departing flights, for drop off. You need to go to the baggage claim area and exit from that door. That's the pick up area."

Once I drove around, this time following the Departing Flights signs, I picked up my dear mother-in-law. "Oh," she said, "that's why all these people are being dropped off here."

Yes, indeed.


  • In Seattle, "The Jet City" if you even THINK about picking someone up using the Arriving Flights lane, the TSA will assult your house, drill a hole in your roof, insert a long pole into your livingroom, grab you out from your cozy livingroom chair, put you in a bag and haul you away...forever.

    It's either that, or park in the "Temporary" parking garage...for a fee of course. You'd think they'd offer you 30 minutes of parking for free or something, but must pay (ok it's $2 for 30 min, but rates goe up exponentially after that), but directing an out of town guest to your location into said garage would require them to use a sextant, GPS, divining rod AND a Sherpa guide. Cell phones don't work in the garage.

    However, all that is probably nothing compaired to Philly Airport traffic so well done.

    By Blogger Wheelson, at 9:02 PM, December 01, 2004  

  • HAHAHA! You have to love the MIL. Aren't they all so well much so that you could throttle them? At least you got her eventually.

    Thanks for stopping by my site, BTW! I hope you'll come back again.

    By Blogger Cattiva, at 9:39 PM, December 01, 2004  

  • The good thing about my small, regional, "International" airport is that hardly anyone ever uses it, so the "police" are so happy to see anyone, they practically encourage you to park in the "pick up" area and buy you a coffee. The bad thing about it is that there is little competition and the prices are outragious

    By Blogger Diva, at 11:30 PM, December 02, 2004  

  • Ugh, remind me never to go there. I thought Logan in Boston was the worst...but then with Logan, it's a "you can't get there from here" experience all the way. After all that, how was the MIL's flight experience?

    When I think about what we used to have when we were younger. The bunch of us sitting around on Saturday nights used to try to think of things to do and one or the other of us would say "hey, I know, let's go down to the airport (Logan was about an hour away then) and watch the planes come in and take off...then we'd jump in the car and do that. When we got to the airport, as I recall, we just parked any old place (for free of course) and went to the observation deck (outside...right next to the planes) and have the time of our piddly lives. And now you can't even pick up a bona fide traveller. Sheesh... ~;^}

    By Blogger foxymama, at 12:32 AM, December 03, 2004  

  • Wheelson, There's temporary parking at PHL as well, although I don't think it starts out at $2. I think it's more like $4. If people would do as they're told and call when they're ON THE CURB, the waiting on the shoulder of the exit ramp would work fine. Are you not allowed to do that in Seattle? Or has no one figured it out yet?

    Cattiva, My MIL is a very nice and wonderful woman...but she does think she knows better than me about some things she has actually no idea about--like the Philadelphia International Airport! BTW, your blog is great. I'll definitely stop back by again. Got there via vadergrrrl.

    Diva, PHL manages to be quite expensive as well, although now Southwest has arrived and driven down USAir's prices. It's actually a lot cheaper to fly out of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, but that's a good hour and a half away. Sometimes I do it, sometimes not. But at least we're lucky here and we have some choices.

    Foxy, I will not remind you never to come here! Since you don't live here, you won't have to pick anyone up, so you'll be fine. Besides, Boston isn't that far. You could drive down! BTW, that's an interesting story about how open the airports used to be. There's a dividing line in movies now, I've noticed. Movies that show people waiting at the gate for people to arrive fall before 9/11/01.

    By Blogger Oz, at 8:24 AM, December 03, 2004  

  • Dont you just love it when you repeat yourself over and over again, only to find out that you were not listened to at all? Doesnt it make you wonder what wall you were speaking to the entire time...

    By Blogger D.T., at 11:20 AM, December 03, 2004  

  • I love comming to your blog. You make me smile every time. Thank you so much! *hugs*

    Travel is HELLLLLLLL! I hate those guys who chastise you at airports with their whistles...

    Thanks for your continued support. It means so much to me.

    Happy Holidaze.


    By Blogger Vadergrrrl, at 12:35 PM, December 03, 2004  

  • DT, Exactly. I mean, do people think that I talk just to hear myself talk? Okay, I do that sometimes. But that's beside the point. :)

    Vader, Glad you're feeling better. Always good to see you up and about, so to speak. :)

    By Blogger Oz, at 1:26 PM, December 03, 2004  

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