An airport’s worst waiting area: The Penalty Box

Ever been looking out the window of your taxiing airplane as you pull up to the runway? The captain announces that you’re X in the queue for landing, asks the flight attendants to prepare for departure and you slowly creep your way up to the runway. But just as you’re about to make it to the top, the plane takes a hard turn away, makes a few quick maneuvers and comes to a dead stop perpendicular to the runway where you, the lonely passenger, get to watch all of the planes depart out of your side window.

That, my friends, is what we frequent flyers call the Penalty Box. In about ten seconds the captain is going to come over the intercom and say something to the effect of “Well, we just got a call from New York air traffic control and they’ve put us on a ground stop because of congestion in the area. We’re monitoring the situation and we’ll give you an update in ninety minutes.”

It’s like when you’re in line for Space Mountain at Disneyworld, you’ve been waiting for 7 hours, are almost up to the front of the queue, come around the last bend and see another room full of people looking disgustedly back at you.

My only solution for this problem? Go to sleep before you push back from the gate. If ever you wake up during the wait in the box you have no idea how long you’ve been there and just assume that it hasn’t been too long. There’s nothing worse than being awake, bored and idle in an airplane with a whole flight to look forward to.