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The 3am Airport Experience

Airports suggest that you arrive about an hour and a half early to avoid any situations that may cause you to miss your flight.  So I did.  I left home at 2, drove (shoutout to RedBull for the energy) an hour and a half in the middle of the night, and now I am currently sitting in terminal A25 (you don't actually care about that), hogging 2 electrical outlets like the fearless man I am. 


"But, Jakob... Why are you writing this?  It's way too early to even be awake, better yet pumping out fresh ass content for average people like us?"


I'm writing this, because during my caffeine-fueled drive, I thought to myself, "I wonder what the airport is like at 3 o'clock in the morning.  Is it packed?  Is it empty? Do celebrities come this early to avoid being aggravated by peons like us? Are airport bars open all night?"  So many questions that I just couldn't answer.  So, like the talented, borderline incredible individual that I am, I decided to take notes about my experience and answer those questions for the world to see. 


FYI:  My travel attire is peak comfort.  Columbia shorts (if you haven't worn them, they're by far the greatest shorts I've ever worn), a long sleeve comfort colors tee, my Nike Dri-Fit hat and grey Roshe's.  Can you say, "swaggy?" Look great. Feel greater.



I arrived at Memphis International Airport at approximately 3:30am on a Sunday morning.  Enter my first important decision:


Economy Parking or Preferred Parking?


I came to a complete stop at the fork.  To my left, a parking garage that sits a solid 500 feet from the airport entrance. $6 dollars/night. My right, preferred parking extended right up to the doors!  $15 dollars/night.  Double the price, but definitely the most convenient.


Executive Decision:  This one's on the company card, and I'm not about to pull this suitcase behind me any further than I have to... Preferred it is. Sorry, boss man.


3:43am - I have established my presence in the check-in line.  There's 43 people in front of me.  Yes, I counted.  I am genuinely surprised by how many people are here at this time.  The TSA security gate isn't even open yet.


3:50am - There's now 18 people behind me, which pushes our total over 60 people.  I can only assume that these people knew I was coming. Either they heard about my Bachelorette recaps and wanted to see this magnificent face in person, OR they heard about my Bachelorette recaps and want to make my trip as miserable as possible.  


Long line. Moving Slow.  Off to a bad start. 


After refreshing Twitter, Facebook and Instagram AT LEAST 20 times each, I reach the kiosk and receive my boarding pass.  The TSA gate opens immediately, allowing me to be one of the first in line.  


What I witnessed at the security checkpoint was probably the highlight of the entire experience.  Not because it’s something that you’d only see at 3am, but because it was heart-warming and just plain awesome.



As I took my place in line, I quickly realized that the young man in line in front of me was blind.  He’s travelling with his mother and sister (I assume), but he’s having ZERO issues.


One of my favorite things on the planet is seeing people overcome obstacles – whether that is with business, beliefs, relationships or disabilities.  When I was in college, there was a student who was completely blind, but navigated campus and the many buildings like a champ.  I loved watching him tackle life in a manner that seemed effortless.


This situation was much the same, except he was navigating an airport!  I watched as he loaded his belongings in the trays to be scanned, passed through the medical detector and retrieved his belongings – flawlessly.  Seeing people that overcome their disabilities without worry, hesitation or fear is incredible to me. 


His mother served as a guide throughout the process, but the young man needed little help. Shouts to the moms out there for never giving up – you can also follow me on insta @jakobeliason (DMs are wide open).


On my way to the departure gate, I hopped on the moving platform that takes you from point A to point B without having to walk at all.  Welcome to the Southern United States, where people will choose a longer route to avoid any physical activity. 


This brought something to my attention:  Why are these not present in every shopping mall in America? As a man who will someday be a husband, I would stand on this and let it take me all around the mall, swinging me back past my wife at least once during her shopping spree.  Also, would this be enough to entertain small children and keep them from actually going in stores and begging? I think so.  Million. Dollar. Idea.



Arriving at the terminal, I found a seat that had 2 (two) open electrical outlets.  I used them both, because I have a completely useless article to write, duh. 


The jet-way opens and people begin to rush towards the door.  For those of you who don’t know, when you fly Southwest, you can sit wherever you want.  I waited around for the line to clear out and boarded.  My original plan was to head straight to the back, be away from the babies and the obese, but I bumped into a kid who was also flying alone.


When you’re cool like me, you attract other cool people.  It’s just how it works.  Blake, my 5am flight friend, is 16, homeschooled and will be attending Bethel University on a full scholarship to join the Fishing Team.  Yep, a fishing team… who knew?


The plane takes off, everyone over the age of 40 falls asleep immediately and the flight attendants begin to point out the different publications in the seat-back. 


This may come as a surprise, but I wasn’t expecting there to be a drink menu on a flight this early.  Boy, was I wrong.  Not only was there a full drink menu complete with cocktails and beer, but my first beverage was FREE.  Should I be drinking tequila at 5am while 30,000 feet in the air? Cmon, you know the answer to that. 


With tequila and coffee settled into my bloodstream, I come up with yet another million-dollar idea.  If an airline differentiated itself by removing the middle seat, don’t you think that would be a hit?  I mean, if you’re waiting to board and you’re not low-key worried about sitting in between 2 people that wouldn’t fit on your run-of-the-mill carnival ride, are you really flying?  If I could pay 50-75 dollars extra and be SURE that I would not have to deal with that situation, you best believe I’m doing it.


Alas! The captain notifies us that we are in Chicago airspace and that we will be landing shortly, which is my cue to sign off and publish this column for your reading pleasure.  With that being said, I offer you two pieces of expert advice when deciding on taking that early flight or not.

1. Never pass up free drinks.

2. Do your duty as an awkward white dude – clap when the plane lands.  It’s like clapping at the end of a movie at a cinema, only way whiter.

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