My flight to New Mexico was to leave from San Jose at 9:10am on Friday. As a broke jet-setter I've gone through SJC (San Jose International) a number of times to know it can be a pain. Sometimes flights are late, sometimes it's the line that's a drag.
For any domestic flight, you must check in before 30 minutes to which the flight leaves. Airports suggest you come early because of the checkpoints delays.
"What happened" I told him. "There's unexpected traffic" he responds.
I was a bit annoyed. It's 8:00am, there's always going to be traffic somewhere. Panic passed through my mind. Would I be able to get to the plan in time? It says 9:10am but that means 9:10 that the plane takes off the ground isn't it? All these thoughts passed through my mind and more.
Only a chance in a million or an intervention by...no...I stopped. I didn't want to bring god into this.
I told Jose how important it was that I left on time. I can tell from his voice he was feeling it also.
The security checkpoint line at SJC is a hell hole. It's plagued with a long line all the time. I knew it would take at least 10 minutes to pass through that point. Picking me up at 8:40 and getting there at 8:45 could mean i can make it, but barely.
"Let me see what I can do" Jose says as he tries to figure out to see if someone else can get me. By the time that person figures what to do, I'd be super late.
As I waited for Jose, I contemplated on driving my car and leaving it there. No, it would take me more time to walk from the car and to the airport.
The gardener of my apartment complex was nearby. I was desperate. "If I paid you $10 can you take me to the airport?" I ask him.
"It's a busy day, I can't do it" he says. of course he can't, he can't leave the property! "Crap."
So, there I was wondering on what I can do. I close my door and walk down the street to my parking lot entrance and waited, all the while thinking of some solutions.
Jose made it just on time, 8:40am. Jose and I have a very good trait, committing to the time you state (even though he couldn't make it at 8:20).
He flies in his car and stops on a dime while I load up my bags in his trunk and off we went.
Minor traffic on 87 North. We make it to SJC at 8:45 or so. I jump out of the car in a flash. There's a line for checking bags outside. I skip that and go to the E-Ticket kiosk.
"You've passed the 30 minute check in time" the screen prompts. "Take your stub to the gate counter" it continues. "Crap" I wondered. It says Gate A2.
So I hustle, it's a busy morning at the terminal with tons of people around. I run up the stairs to see as expected, a long ass line to the check-in point on Terminal A, the domestic flights side.
I ask the person directing people into the checkpoint. "My flight is leaving right now, can I cut in line?" I ask him.
"No you can't" he responds "but if you go to the other side to the second checkpoint there's hardly ever a line there." he continues.
Second checkpoint? I was a bit perplexed. I had been going to SJC for quite some time now and never saw or knew of a second checkpoint. Checkpoint A is the one closest to the stairs and there's always a line...so naturally I thought there was only one checkpoint.
I didn't believe him but I went anyway. Lo and behold yes, there was indeed a second check-in point directly across and to the side, which is why no one ever goes into it. There was no line.
I was ready to strip everything down, shoes, pockets, and laptop. Everything goes in including my laptop. So I stand on the opposite wondering what time was left.
"Excuse me, do you have the time" I ask the guy next to me. I suddenly realized, how the hell would he know? His watch went into the x-ray machine also. I slap my forehead with the palm of my hand.
"I'm going to send your backpack into the scanner again" the TSA official tells me. I wanted to tell her I was late and I didn't have time for her to run it again. I wanted to say that there's nothing unusual in my bag. But rather than cause a scene that would likely make me take longer, I waited patiently.
All she did was send my portable speakers and backpack through the scanner. So after packing everything in and realize i'm at the end that says Gate A7. I gotta huff it down to A2.
So there I was, jogging my way to A2 with a fortunately-light carry-on and backpack. I wasn't sure if i was going to make it. And there I saw it, The door to Gate A2 still open. As I got closer, there was people still walking in. It's 9:05 at this time. From the looks of things, it's a pretty full flight.
I got to the counter of Gate A2. "I'm sorry, you'll have to the counter at A3" he responds. I'm off running again "mother******" I cry to the air.
I got to counter A3 with two people in line. I ask the man in line what he was here for. "I'm just here to print a pre-boarding pass he says." "My flight is boarding right now, can I cut in line?" I ask him. "Sure, if you think it would help". It does. After some minutes waiting for the guy in front of me to be done, the woman looks at my stub and ID and prints me a boarding pass. Fortunately, there's no assigned seating on this flight.
So I'm done and I'm off jogging again. I make it to the gate. "Welcome to Southwest" the man responds with a smile as he scans my pass. I'm in and the doors close behind me as I make my way down the loading tube.
there was a potential for missing my flight but there was a few things that came into play that helped me make it in time.
1. E-Ticket kiosk.
2. Finding about the second security check-in.
3. I had no bags to check-in.
4. Southwest was delayed at least 5 minutes.
5. It was a packed flight.
So if you're ever at SJC and you see the long line at the security check-in, look to your right pass the Southwest check-in counters and you should see another check-in point.