Happiness, Success, and International Travel – Part 2

More Adventures with Travel Delays and Why Do Bus Drivers Take Breaks While Passengers are on the Bus?

This is a continuation from last week’s travel adventures where we were stuck in a 95 degree plane with a broken indicator light and the delay meant we would miss the connecting flight to Halifax. Click Here to Read More.

Luckily, the mechanic had made it to work on time and apparently we were the first mechanical failure of the day. We only had to wait another 10 minutes before we got the go ahead to take off. So we were only about 20 minutes late and the pilot reported we could make up some of that time in the air. Once we got to 35,000 feet, the plane cooled down significantly and there was a rush to get the jackets and sweatshirts out of the bins where they had been ignominiously stuffed. It is always interesting to observe unhappy travelers watching their belongings being pushed and shoved by fellow travelers who are attempting to locate their items and then re-pack the over-stuffed bins and force the doors closed. Luckily we made it through the process with only minimal harsh words and no full blown fist fights.

We made it to LaGuardia with 45 minutes before my flight to Halifax. All I had to do was find the gate. Disappointingly the flight attendant didn’t mention Halifax in her list of connecting gates. Also, checking my handy American Airlines App, I could not find any information about my connecting gate or flight, except that it was on Delta. Even worse, the video boards, filled with arrival gates, did not show any departures for Halifax or Delta. I came to yet another stressful realization. I was in an American Airlines only terminal. No Delta flights, no Delta information, no one who knew how to get to Halifax. So with 40 minutes to go I searched for an information desk. Did you know that all information desks are outside of security? Apparently once you get inside of security, you no longer need information.

So I headed towards the baggage claim area searching for anyone who could help. The Security Guard was able to tell me that Delta was in a completely different terminal and I would have to go through security again. Not only that, I would have to take a bus to the Delta terminal. My next move was to go outside and try to figure out the right bus to get on. If you have flown into LaGuardia, you know there are a lot of buses, a lot of people, and a lot of signs, so I did a lot of reading and considering trying to confirm that I would be getting on the right bus to get me to the Delta terminal. Believe it or not, I still had hope. With 30 minutes to go, I was hoping the plane to Halifax might be slightly delayed. After careful review of the bus routes I determined that there was only one stop between here and the Delta terminal. All I needed was an efficient bus driver. Notice my positive thinking or maybe wishful thinking. As we headed to the Delta terminal, we made what in my eyes was an unplanned stop. There were no people waiting, but the bus driver gets off the bus and looks any way. He is looking for potential passengers, or so I thought. He then starts strolling away from the bus. I am very confused at this point, but I see him pause, think, and then stroll back to the bus. I slowly let my breath out. I had been holding my breath trying to figure out my next move. The bus driver steps back on the bus and peers around the safety bar at his passengers who look on with expectant and somewhat surprised faces. He announces that he is on break now, and the replacement bus driver should already be here. But not to worry, the current bus driver is sure the replacement driver will be here in the next 5 minutes. I relax and breathe as I realize everything has conspired against me to make sure I don’t make the flight to Halifax.   There must be a reason. But in the back of my mind, I have a tiny glimmer of hope for the trip saving flight delay. After a few minutes, a new bus driver appears and we are once again off to the races. We get to the Delta terminal in less than 5 minutes, which means I probably could have walked there faster, and we all rush off the bus to check our flights. I get inside the Delta terminal and surprisingly, I quickly locate the video displays for the arrivals. Where are the departures? No need to panic, they put them right next the arrivals. But the arrivals have 3 screens and the departures have 1 screen. So the departures have to scroll through. Should I be looking for Canada, Halifax, or Nova Scotia? After seconds that seem like minutes, I locate Halifax and excitedly I notice my flight has been delayed. That’s right, what was horrible news 4 hours ago is now fantastic news. But my American Mobile Ticket App doesn’t work for a Delta Ticket, even though we bought it through American, so I try the self-serve kiosk. I don’t know my Delta frequent flyer number and I can’t get my passport to scan.   So I pull out my glasses to read the tiny print on my phone as I try to find the email or calendar notice that gives me the flight locator number to appease the kiosk. After many minutes of frustration, I am able to locate my reservation and get informed by the machine that I have to speak with an agent. Will wonders never cease! Not being a Delta frequent flyer medallion member, I have to get in the “we love you, but not as much” line,   which is always longer and is a guaranteed 30 minute wait. Now I am worried that even with the flight delayed I won’t make it.   I shouldn’t have been worried. That flight was not going to take off for hours.

I finally made it through the line and a very helpful Delta employee sent me toward security with the message not to feel rushed, because the flight had been delayed by yet another hour. My trip was saved and I would make it to Halifax. But I found that saved and safe are two different concepts.

By then, it was almost noon and my breakfast burrito of unknown origin was no longer providing the energy I need. Since I had a little extra time and I had made it through security with little trouble, I decided to take a few minutes to eat.   Luckily there was a burger place just past security. I noticed a line of people, but nobody at the counter. Not a good sign. I started looking around and I noticed that people were ordering using iPads secured to the counter. So I await my turn and notice all of the frustrated looks. It was unclear whether people were ordering or not. When I finally get my turn, it is because the man in front of me just gave up. He was half way through his order and couldn’t find something so he just walked off. Meanwhile a lady kept coming out from behind the wall, yelling numbers, and handing out orders. So food was actually being distributed. Having worked with technology my whole career, I should not have been intimidated by an ipad menu. But I could barely read the screen without my glasses which I always hesitate to take out, and I can’t figure out how to order anything that is not a combo with a number. So I find the burger combo and forgo the special orders that make my wife crazy when we visit a drive through burger place. No mayonnaise, no onions, add cheese, etc.. I follow her advice and just pick a number. But there was no menu to pay and no place to swipe a credit card. Could I have gotten really lucky and stumbled on the only free burger place in New York? I see my ticket print out from the mini-printer on the counter. Not too difficult until another ticket prints out immediately after it. Which one is mine? No glasses and I don’t remember what number I ordered. So I let the more experienced airport worker pick up the tickets and figure out who gets what. It is a good thing to, because when he handed me the ticket, everything was abbreviated and I can’t tell if I got the right ticket or not. About that time the lady comes out from behind the wall and yells at the milling crowd, “You have go down there to pay before you can have your order!” She is clearly angry about this because no one seems to understand the system. As we all look down the hallway, off in the distance, about 100 yards away, we can see long lines in front of registers that apparently collect money for all the restaurants in this general area. So I need to go way down there to pay. But I want a bottle of water for my trip and the cooler with drinks is next to the ordering counter. So I grabbed a water bottle and began the long trek down to the registers, hoping my food doesn’t come out before I make it there and back. No need to worry. The burger makers had plenty of orders to prepare before mine. So many that they forgot about mine. As I am walking down the hallway to the registers with all of the other travelers who have just come through security, a panicked thought crosses my mind. What if they think I am stealing the water? I mean, I could just keep walking and keep the water without paying for it. There is no way they can keep up with who has paid and how hasn’t. Being honest and hungry, I stop at the register, wait in line and pay for my food. I then trek 100 yards back to the place where I ordered and wait for the angry lady to come out from behind the wall and yell my number, which she never does. While waiting I decided to fill the to-go cups with ketchup for my French fries. There are two red ketchup dispensers and one mustard dispenser. I had the weird thought that I should sample ketchup from both dispensers, but dismissed that as crazy. Maybe not so crazy after all. More on that in a minute. After about 10 minutes of waiting and confirming that my number was passed 10 orders ago, I stepped up to the counter and asked the lady about my order. This set off a firestorm of checking and yelling which eventually resulted in my box of burger and fries being shoved through a window near the wall. I then inquire about my Mocha Shake, which is not exactly a Mocha Frappe, but close enough. Once again I had set off a flurry of yelling and activity the resulted in a shake being unceremoniously plopped in front of me 5 minutes later. I politely say thank you and prepare to leave the counter. That is when I realize, I didn’t get a nice bag of food to go. I got an open box of fries and burger, a shake, a bottle of water, and two of those little cups of to-go ketchup. I also have a suitcase and brief case I am lugging around. Now anyone with four arms could have easily left the counter, but I had to do some re-organizing. There were no seats and tables anywhere in sight. I had to prepare to carry an open box with fries, burger, mocha shake, ketchup cups, and my luggage through the busy airport terminal without spilling or making my usual mess. Which reminded me, I had forgotten to get napkins. But it was too late to turn back now and I didn’t have any hands to spare.

Finally and without incident, I found my gate. It was over crowded with people and seats were at a premium, much less seats with a table. I got lucky and spotted a guy packing quickly to catch his flight, so I snagged his seat and table. It was nice to have a moment to relax and enjoy my food. That was until I figured out that my chosen ketchup bin had really been Bar-B-Q sauce. So I had French fries and two cups of Bar-B-Q sauce with my greasy burger. And no napkins!


“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” – Napoleon Bonaparte


[Success Hack: Perseverance is a marker for success. Success is never a smooth road. It is full of challenges and obstacles that provide us with the opportunity to give up at every turn. Practicing perseverance on the smaller things like lunch and making a flight will increase your confidence and ability to persevere through the important and truly challenging obstacles in life.]


[Happiness Hack: Positive Thinking helps build perseverance and helps make you happier. Believing you can get through the challenges you are facing to reach your goal creates hope. That hope increases your will power to keep moving forward and your level of happiness because you realize that no matter how tough the situation you are facing now, you can create a positive ending.]


Think positively and persevere until every option is exhausted and you will be happier and more successful.


Next week: Crowds and Flight Safety: Should You Be Worried If the Emergency Hatch Lever Cover Keeps Popping Off?


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness, Success, and International Travel

I travel a medium amount for work and most of the time my trips are fun and uneventful. I don’t like to be away from my family but it is good to see new places and meet face to face with friends from work who live in other parts of the world.
Sometimes however, happiness can be found by the hilarious circumstances created when the travel industry and our busy schedules collide.

For this particular trip I woke up at 4 am. I always try to get an early start on my travel so I can get home sooner and so I am prepared for any travel surprises. After a quick pass through security, very few people arrive at the airport around 5 am; I headed straight to my gate to confirm I knew where it was and check for crowds, boarding delays, and any other potential travel challenges. Gate 20, my gate was unusually quiet, but I figured that was the result of an early morning flight and that didn’t leave for another hour. My next stop was my routine trip to McDonald’s at Gate 32. This is a sojourn I make on most international flights as I find a pre-flight hamburger, large Mocha Frappe, and bottle of water always make my trip a little more enjoyable. I had visited that particular McDonald’s at Gate 32 often at 5 am, so I was surprised this time to find lots of customers standing outside waiting while all of the employees stood inside the cage looking security gates staring back out. I was able to determine that the manager had not yet arrived with the money so they were not going to open until the money arrived, which might not be until 6 am, when I would hopefully be on a flight catching up on my sleep or possibly a little work. An immediate solution came to my mind and clearly it had occurred to the other sleepy travelers standing outside the cage. We had money and we would give it to McDonald’s. Most of us travelers used credit cards and we would be glad to give up a few cents in change in exchange for a tiny sip of coffee or bite of an Egg McMuffin to get our morning started. But the employees behind the cage were like the guards at a prison. No money comes in and no food goes out!
Not to worry though. I knew of a Starbucks’ at Gate 28. I needed a little exercise and I figured I could lead the other traveler’s to their desperately needed coffee elixir, as long as I got a head start so I would be the first to order. As I arrived at Gate 28, I recognized my naiveté, as I noticed the Starbuck’s line that already forming because for some reason the Starbuck’s was not open either. Word from the crowd was the prep person had not made it in on this very early Monday morning. The manager was there with the money, but nothing had been prepared for the morning rush and they could not open until all the preparations had been made. Another solution came to mind. Why not open with a more limited coffee offering so those of us in line could make our flights? But the manager at the counter just kind of grunted at me. She did not see the wisdom of my idea. But I was able to confirm she did have the money, although my question about having the money brought suspicious looks from more than just the manager. Another solution! Starbucks at Gate 22. Various members of the crowd confirmed that Starbucks at Gate 22 was not open either. Apparently it is hard get good help at 5 am on Monday mornings. The manager overheard our discussions about Gate 22 still being closed and felt the need to make a call to determine their challenges. Which meant she also stopped her urgent prep work and all of the employees seemed to follow her lead. After getting confirmation that no, they were not open either, she went back to work. By now it is 5:25 and I am back in the middle of the line and Starbuck’s has not even opened yet. My flight will be boarding in 5 minutes if it has not started already. Time for an executive decision; Get on a 4 hour plane ride with no food, coffee, or water, or possibly be late getting on my flight. Strongly preferring to be early rather than late, I forgo my pre-flight ritual and head for Gate 20, which is only 8 gates away. Or for those of you familiar with DFW Airport, what seems like a 3 mile walk. Now that I am in a hurry, it seems the area has become overcrowded with Starbuck’s customers and potential travelers waiting on their flights. So I pick my way through the crowad and then increase my pace heading to Gate 20. I would take the moving sidewalks to increase my speed, but every sidewalk along the corridor to Gate 20 have been shut down for maintenance. It seems like everything was going my way this morning. As I get to Gate 24, I realize that crowds have thinned significantly and off in the distance I don’t see any crowds at all. As I pass Gate 22 at a crisp walk, I don’t see anyone at Gate 20. The sudden realization that either my flight has left or it is not boarding at Gate 20, rushes over me in a small wave of panic. As I run through my options I start looking for a display board to check my departure gate. If it is still terminal D, I could possibly run to my gate, but if it is in another terminal, I am missing this flight. So you know those big video screens that show the gates for all of the arriving and departing flights. They are everywhere, except around Gate 20. On a side note, why do they show all of the arriving flights? Friends and family can’t get through security to wait on someone at the gate, so who needs to know which gate a flight is arriving at, besides the people on the plane? Don’t travelers only need to know from which gate their flight is departing?
Anyway, I now need to make another executive decision, do I go down to Gate 19 or up to Gate 21 to find a video display of the departure gates. The wrong direction could cost me precious minutes. I head back the way I came believing I might have seen a working video display next to the non-working moving sidewalks. Success! My flight is leaving from Gate 28. The gate next to the unopened Starbuck’s I had just come from! It is now 5:40 and my flight should be boarding. Do I run or walk calmly toward the crowd? I chose walking calmly but quickly. The crowd is a good sign. As I get to my gate, I hear the announcement. My flight is delayed. Good news for a person like me who can’t find the right gate, but bad news for a person like me who has a one hour layover in New York before catching a flight to Halifax. One hour does not leave a lot of room for delays.
More interestingly, the reason for the delay is announced. I live in Texas where days are smoldering and the nights stay pretty hot. With a low of 90 degrees the night before, and sitting on heat producing tarmac, our enclosed aluminum tube that flies had heated up beyond humanly bearable limits and had not yet had the chance to cool down. So they had the air conditioning running at full blast to cool it down. Another side note: have you ever been in an airplane when they shut down the engines to save fuel, but left the AC running. It is like using your breath to blow out a forest fire. Air Conditioning on airplanes only works when the engines are running! By the way, I did a quick check of the Starbucks to see if I could get something to eat and drink, but the line was at least 50 people long at that point. 50 people going through Starbuck’s could take a while. Someone was willing to miss their flight. I did see however that the Bar-B-Q restaurant was opening up. A few people were checking in with them and walking away with sustenance. So I headed over and found they were selling sausage and egg burritos that were not on any menu. They were literally pulling them out of a bag and handing them out. So I grabbed my bottle of water and burrito of unknown origin and headed back to my gate to eat and wait patiently.
We were all surprised when they started boarding the plane 20 minutes later. As we boarded the plane, we realized being on time was more important than being cool. The sweatfest had begun. Much like Texas in the afternoon, we literally walked into a wall of heat. It was early in the morning, many of us were unable get coffee, our flight was delayed, and now the heat. Everyone immediately began commenting and complaining in half-raised voices. Once people made it to their seats they shed as much clothing as was allowed and began fanning themselves vigorously. I don’t think I have seen so many people in t-shirts on one flight in my life. Suit jackets, ties, and sweatshirts were being stuffed into every available bin space. Amazingly, we all understood our group dilemma, so we boarded and got seated as quickly as possible so they could start the engines and turn on the real air conditioning. Once we were all settled and anticipating our quick departure, we got the dreaded news. An indicator light was out and we would have to sit in the sweltering heat and wait for a mechanic to come check it out. My one hour window to transfer planes in LaGuardia was getting smaller and smaller.

[Success Hack – Being prepared is a key to success. But I let my routines interfere with my preparation. My routines led to assumptions which led to my mistakes. I should have double checked my gate and opted for the wonderful nutritional food they have on the plane. I should celebrate my success: I persevered and made the flight. But also take responsibility for my failures. I was lucky the flight was delayed, and I made a series of errors that could have led to failure instead of success. Plan ahead and persevere towards the most important outcome like making the flight vs. routines like getting breakfast]

[Happiness Hack – You are going to make mistakes like not checking the gate and there are many environmental factors that will work against you like the restaurants not being open and the plane being overheated. Don’t waste your time being angry at yourself or someone else. Find the humor and help others find the humor and you will be happier.]

[Extra Hack – being angry in these situations is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die. Don’t let things you can’t control ruin your day or distract you from your goal. Stay calm, have fun, and decide what to do next. ]

Next Week Part 2 – More Adventures with Travel Delays and Why Do Bus Drivers Take Breaks While Passengers are on the Bus?

Week 3: Crowds and Flight Safety: Should You Be Worried If the Emergency Hatch Lever Cover Keeps Popping Off?


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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