Even at 9 p.m. on a Saturday, there’s a buzz at Incheon Airport … the kind only found at a major intercontinental airport. I walk the concourse just to bask in it awhile longer.
I wind up walking next to an airline pilot. He’s close to 60, sports a bit of a paunch. He wears a “here we go again” expression on his face.
“So where are you headed tonight?” I ask.
The pilot’s expression transforms. He tells me he’s headed for a city in China – he’s more specific, but it’s a city I’ve never heard of. And then he’s bound for a few more just like it. He asks about my trip. I run him through a four-sentence synopsis of my last few weeks.
As we walk, we reach a hallway – and it’s clear that’s where he’s headed. So I wish him a good trip and tell him “Hey, thanks for flying and getting us all around the world.” He thanks me, smiles, heads off to get to work.
I hope he remembers this the next time someone crabs about late flights, cramped seats and bad food. I can tell my words surprised him – but in a god way. So next time you have a chance, thank a pilot or a flight attendant … and it’s even better if it’s not one from your own plane. Let a random airline professional know that you have some appreciation for their role in opening the world up to you.
I’ll go first – if you work for an airline, thank you. You’re not perfect – but neither am I. And if not for you, I wouldn’t see Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Asia and many other incredible places to come. Thanks!