Then Adam heard someone ahead say, "This is the friendliest airport I've ever been to."
"A friendly airport? How bizarre," I thought.
Then I realized, he wasn't yelling at us.
2. Warm, Smiling, Chatty
The first security man wasn't a fluke. It was the culture.
It was our turn to go through the swinging black stall gate and give our ID's and tickets to the security woman.
You know, this is the security staff that's sitting on a stool behind the black podium. They're always straight faced, looking miserable, they never look you in the eye, and they never crack a smile. They scan your ticket, sign it with a highlighter, look at the long line behind you, sigh, then hand the ticket and your ID back to you. "NEXT!"
Well, this woman in Tucson didn't fit the mold.
She greeted us warmly and started chatting. "Hi! So, are you headed home?"
For us, that question is a bit difficult. We started explaining, but she was confused. We were in Tucson, heading to Atlanta with a Colorado ID. That's not normal.
So I said, "Well, we're traveling in a camper around the US. This was a quick trip for business. Adam's an accountant and helps people figure out their taxes with this lifestyle."
She beamed! I was confused now. "A smiling security person? What?"
"My husband and I want to do that! That's our dream after we retire. Please give me your card- I'll be needing it one day."
Not expecting to share his card in the security check point line, Adam had packed it deep in his backpack. While he fumbled to grab it, she continued to share her dreams of RVing through retirement.
When he finally found it, she said, "Oh, this is awesome! I'll be in touch! Safe travels out there."
Then, she motioned us to the security belt area.
As I made my way forward, I turned back to Adam with a "What's happening here?" look.
Two friendly security folks? This wasn't normal.
My mind was changed mid security line. Their staff was treating us like people not cattle. And, I was no longer seeing them as obstacles to successfully pass through, I was seeing them as humans with emotions and dreams.
3. Even When They Have to Investigate your Bag
Now it was the time to unload computers, toiletries, take off our shoes, and get a pat down.
Along with unloading all of that, I always unload my big bottle of "medical" contact solution. I've learned I can take it, but because it's bigger than 2 oz. it causes an inspection every time.
As expected, my grey plastic container got dinged and the next security guy pulled the box over to test my contact solution.
I grabbed my other two bags, shoved my computer into my backpack, and hopped over to him trying to put my shoes on. The stress of it all.
For the third time that morning in the security line, we had a friendly conversation.
The security guard asked about our travels and we quickly got on the topic of camping and travel trailers.
We learned of his dreams to buy a camper and travel with his family.
My contact lens solution came back negative, I packed it away and we were all cheerfully wishing each other "good days."
Still dark out at 5:17 AM, Tucson's friendly security staff had transformed me from a sleepy, short-mooded passenger to cheerful and excited for the day.
Each of them made the airport security experience enjoyable. Now, that's remarkable!
Congratulations to the Tucson International Airport security staff!
Thank you for flipping the status quo and making the airport security line enjoyable!
Who knew just a bit of friendly conversation while performing the same tasks can transform a passenger's experience.
This is possible for every airport!
Please share this if you agree! And, share it with folks you know in the airport industry.
We can make flying fun again even with security lines!