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  • Ayanna A.

Flights and Gates.

I know it’s be a MINUTE.

Looking back I’ve written soooo inconsistently this year. I realize I got off track, distracted on many good things. But as a wise woman told me recently: Is it a good idea or a God idea? But that is a whole other blog post!

For now, I am back, and focused— praise! And I wanted to share something I thought about as I was experiencing a layover in Las Vegas airport (of all places!) last week.

Why didn’t I book a direct flight? Glad you asked. Prices were sky high for direct flights, due to when I purchased my tickets. I booked an early flight too, which flew out at 6 AM! To say the least, it was an early, and full day.

I slept on the flight to LV to catch up on the sleep I didn’t get by waking up at 330 AM, so when I was nudged by the traveller who sat in the window seat so he could exit the plane, I was probably sleep walking. I checked my phone for my mobile boarding pass as I exited the ramp into the terminal, and I see the gate for the connecting flight is A25. What?! That’s right next to the gate I’m at right now (A24), I said to myself, as I did an internal Tiger Woods fist pump.

I found a seat, gladly resting the heavy travel bag I draped across my shoulder and prepared to get some shut eye for the next 45 minutes before it would be time to board. After a moment I got up to double check the monitors for gate assignments and low and behold— I see there has been a gate change. And y’all, it wasn’t even in A terminal! It was alll the way at B10. How they just going to change the gate without notifying anybody? I thought after I checked my phone for emails/texts and saw none.

After a moment thought, my frustration turned to gratitude. Whew, glad I saw that, I could have missed my flight.

It stuck out to me because I had a conversation with someone that week, where we both declared we would not miss our flights in 2023!

And I thought about how this could apply to making the “flights” of life in the way that we are each responsible for making sure we made it to our flights— our terminals, and our gates.

Long before I was looking up at the monitor to double check my gate number, my travel started the day I decided to select my destination.

In order to get were we are going, we first have to select our destination. As I made the (long) walk with my bag on my increasingly hurting shoulder from A25 all the way down to A1, across terminals and back up to B10, I walked by likely hundreds of people. Some were traveling with companions, lovers, family, friends, college sports groups. Some were returning to campus after the holiday break. Others like myself were flying solo. But everyone was going to a unique destination.

In order to book a ticket, we have to ask ourselves: Where are we going? What time do you want to get there? How do you want to fly? Who are you traveling with?

Where are we going? — We have to make a decision on the destination, and be willing to book the ticket, or pay the price. Consulting with God before booking is always the best. He knows about factors such as relationships, weather, and safety and His timing is perfect. Often if we delay making a decision (as I did with this flight), the price gets higher and our travel options become limited. In life, leaders make plans early. Servants get what’s left. Which explains my kooky travel plans— I waited until less than 2 weeks to book a flight.

What time do you want to get there? - This is where consulting with God is key for me. He knows who He wants you to sit next to and to strike up conversations with. Always ask Him. Determining this is helped also by knowing your personal preferences. I prefer morning flights that depart at 9 or 10 AM. (It allows you to get to airport at a decent hour without having to leave in the middle of the night, and arrive to my destination with daylight. I also loved the option to use travel time to read, or write, vs sleep on early morning or red-eye flights.) But always submit your preferences to God’s preferences. In life, what is your timeframe, next month? A year from now? People say in goal setting the key to making them tangible is putting a time limit on them. If we don’t chose when it is an indefinite dream. We cannot even book a flight ticket without selecting the date and time the transit will take place.

How do you want to fly? - What airline? What class? Window seat or aisle? Do you want extra leg room? Southwest is my favorite airline so far, but due to timing on when I booked it was not in my budget. I would have preferred to fly first class, but I did not want to pay that price (not that I could not afford it, but I would rather allocate money in a different way). I know the airlines I preferred, but again delay limited the choices to choose from within my budget.

Who are you traveling with? - Solo or with others? Can they afford their own ticket? Will they be enjoyable companions for the journey?

Days Before Travel

OK, you made decisions about where you are going, when you will get there, how you will travel, and who you will travel with. The 1-2 days before the flight are a critical window. You can check in online to save time at the airport. We should also pack to ensure your bag is below weight requirements. This is a good time to review the travel requirements of each airline if you haven’t done so already. American Airlines has different rules than Delta Airlines than Southwest Airlines than JetBlue. To be transparent, I learned that lesson on my inbound flight, which I missed because the airline I chose closed baggage check in 60 minutes before a flight. My go to airline allows you to check bags 45 minutes before. Because the airline was new to me and I did not make time to familiarize myself with their rules, I had to hop on a later flight.

Getting to Airport

That day, my travel started long before I was looking up at the monitor to double check my gate number in the Las Vegas airport. It required that I wake up at a time that would allow enough travel time + time at airport to check in bags (For it meant waking up my family at 330 AM, driving 1 hour to the airport to check in my luggage before the 50 minute window ended. I made it 7 minute to spare! Don’t ask.)

To check bags, we have to abide by weight requirements, or face paying a penalty— and that’s another blog in itself!

Other Factors

Lastly, we must be aware of broader factors that could impact travel outside of our control such as climate, seasonal travel, and local travel patterns. Because it was holiday time, it could take an additional 20-40 minutes to reach my terminal AFTER arriving to airport. So GPS’ timing could be accurate, but you still miss the flight due to airport hold ups since what is “normally” is a 40-minute commute could turning 1 hour 30 minutes. In life yes we do all we can, but it is also our responsibility to be awake to broader factors outside of our control that could influence the successful transit of our flights. Things such as the economy, culture, politics, family transitions, etc. If you don’t make flight, you don’t blame it on traffic, you should have left earlier.

Find Your Gate

So let’s say you make it past security, because you have shown you are not carrying any illegal materials— again another blog post, I won’t linger here. Then you have to make it to your gate.

While printed ticket may say one gate, it could change real time, with no alert or notification.

Sometimes we are in the right place, doing what we were instructed to do. But instructions have changed, sometimes with or without our notice, due to factors outside of us. How well are we adapting? We have to be alert, always watching and aware of those changes.

Along the road to life there are those Help Desk persons. Who you can go to and ask questions. They may be mentors, coaches, or friends who can give wise counsel. Sometimes it comes in the form of a dream. But, it’s up to individual to approach and ask. Often to even formulated a question means you are aware of what is happening around you. It also means we should have your ears attuned to announcements made over intercom. Having headphones in 24/7 can have you missing key instructions, as gate changes and last calls I notice were often made over the intercom.

Then there are the layovers, which is where I was at. It would be tempting to think after the full day I’ve had, I already drove, navigated checking/security, got on seat, let me go on autopilot until I’m home. But if I had, I would have missed the gate change. How do we make sure we don’t miss the flight?

We look up — look up to the One who is the source of our life. Make regular (daily) time to be with Him, listen, share what is on our heart, and ask His will for our future.

We adjust based on new information— An instruction that was relevant yesterday may not be relevant today based on changing factors, plane schedules etc. Hence why the gate I was assigned that morning was not the gate assigned that afternoon. It was actually in a whole entire other terminal that took 15-20 minutes to walk to. If I had settled in and been unaware of my surroundings, I could have missed my connection.

Which all leads me to think that you and I need to re-evaluate and question whether we are doing what is “normal” or awake to what is now. So much about the world, and how society operates has changed! Normal has gone out the window and we are never getting back to 2018 or 2019. We have to be awake and alert to the conditions of now, which are changing every day, and adapting and adjusting accordingly.

This speaks to me so much as we enter 2023. I know God has good things for His people this year, and He wants us to make every flight. That desire on His part must be partnered with alertness and awareness to changing circumstances and adapting regularly on our part. I really believe you and I need to do that this year more now than ever as there are so many transitions happening locally and globally.

Happy New Year, may you make every flight,



P.S. Who Moved My Cheese by John Spencer is a visual that came to mind as I was writing, that I wanted to share with you in case it also speaks to you. Here’s a link to watch!

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