Random Thoughts: The loneliest gate at the airport

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By Travis Mounts, managing editor

Denver is a long way from home here in south-central Kansas.
When you fly to the Mile High City – or through it, as I did on my way back from California on Monday, it’s a relatively short trip. Our scheduled flight time was one hour and 21 minutes, and although we took off a bit late I believe we covered the distance between airports in less time than expected.
The trip through the airport between our connections, was another story.
We left San Francisco at about 4 p.m. Pacific time on Monday. Other than a few bumps during a very short stretch, the flight was uneventful.
I connected to the wi-fi, powered up my laptop and got started on a few work items so that there would be less work to do for this week’s newspaper on Tuesday, which was when I returned to the office and is the day we actually produce the paper.
Flying out to California last week on Wednesday, we had a three-hour layover in the Rocky Mountains. We changed terminals to go to Elway’s, an airport named after the former Denver Broncos quarterback. We had extra time so we figured a sit-down meal and drink were in order. (It was a bad choice. Undercooked chicken – blech. Anyway, go Chiefs.)
Our trips back through was a different story. We only had 40 minutes from touchdown to takeoff. However, that does not include taxiing time, and we had to wait for a gate.
We arrived in Denver just after 7:30 p.m. Mountain time. Boarding for the next flight to Wichita started at 7:55 p.m.
We made a quick stop at the restroom in Terminal B, the main terminal at DEN, and then hustled our way down to the tram. We just missed one, but another was there two minutes later.
Going into Terminal A, we got our bearings first. Almost immediately, we found an airport convenience store and grabbed snacks for our dinner.
And then it was off to our gate – A87.
It turns out, that’s a long way from the center of the terminal. In fact, the last gate in the main part of Terminal A is A50.
Soon, we were headed out of the part of the building and into a long walkway that we hoped led to gates. We eventually went far enough that we were in an addition to the terminal. Basically, it was a metal shed. Slightly fancier than an airport lean-to.
At the far end of this add-on building, we found our gate. We stepped through the doors and…we were outside.
Yep, on a ramp that went down to the pavement. It reminded me of every 1970s TV show that did an episode in Hawaii. It had a third-world feel.
We then entered into what can best be described as a temporary hall. It felt like a party tent for hallways. We were walking on the concrete tarmac that also was underneath planes that were in view.
Along the way, we had to scan our boarding passes again. I guess we were so far away from the main part of the airport that our scans no longer counted. That, or there may be some slight concerns about keeping unwanted people out. On this day, that was not my concern.
Finally we stepped out of the hallway and into actual daylight. A man was holding a “Wichita” to make sure we were where we needed to be in the outer reaches of the airport. Or maybe it was a caution for people headed elsewhere.
Then we went up another different kind of ramp and onto our little airplane. It was one of those 2x2s, and there were no fancy seats or classism. We all were in the worker class. There also was no wi-fi.
But I made it to work on Tuesday, so that means the flight ended about as well as it could.
It was a wonderful trip, as we watched my brother get married. All my family was there, I was able to bring my kids along. Much fun was had.
I guess our unexpected adventure to the hinterlands of the Denver airport will be just a nice chapter in the story of our trip. At the very least, it makes for a newspaper column.