My Denver Airport Meltdown – Four things you shouldn’t do before going on a flight

Have you ever felt stressed while traveling? Do unfamiliar, international airports evoke a sense of anxiety, causing you to be nervous about missing your flight?

If so, you’re not alone.

And if no, keep reading anyway. Chances are that you have either traveled or will travel with someone who has or has had, shall we say, a moment.

Below are four things I did which I shouldn’t have, and how it led up to a grown, well-traveled man having a meltdown at the airport. 

How do I know not to do these things? Because I’ve done them. Learn from my mistakes!

1. Having too much coffee in the morning.

Image result for coffee
Mmm. Coffee!

Talking to a coffee drinker in the morning before they’ve had their cup of joe is a risky move indeed. As a coffee drinker, I have to let my body soak up the the caffeine from one cup of the delicious black stuff before I turn into a reasonable person.

So if one cup is good, two must be better, right? Especially if you’re up early to catch a flight.

Wrong. While everyone has their own tolerance level, two cups of strong, hotel coffee was too much for me. The caffeine started to wind me up, building up my anxiety. That didn’t help matters when it came to the second point.

2. Not giving yourself enough time to get to an unfamiliar airport.

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Any airport with the word “international” in its name provokes a sense of anxiety in me, even without any coffee.

I come from New England, so when I hear that an airport is international, I instantly think of Boston’s Logan International Airport. The place is huge, you have to actually drive on Boston’s crammed highways to get there, and once you’re there, you have to drive to the correct terminal.

It’s a day trip just get to your plane. So when I saw that Denver also uses the “International” label, that should have been a red flag to leave earlier. I didn’t.

To be fair to Denver, their airport is smaller than Logan and easier to navigate on foot. It being my first time there, however, I didn’t know that.

3. Not being patient at the help desk.

Image result for new england impatient
Being from New England myself, I can vouch that this sign is pointed in New England’s direction.

Once at the airport, I had no idea where to check in our bags; I couldn’t find any signs that would guide us to our airline. I’m not a guy who’s afraid to ask for directions, especially in a time crunch. So, when my wife and I found an info desk, I walked straight up to the counter.

There was just one problem that my New England persona couldn’t handle: There was someone in front of me. In itself, that isn’t a bad thing, but when that someone is a slow talker and decides to drag out the conversation while an over-caffeinated, anxious me is worried about missing a flight, well, let’s just say my nerves were starting to fry.

After waiting for a sixty-second eternity, I still managed to be nice and polite and ask for directions. We were directed to our airline. Awesome. We were on our way. Finally!

4. Rushing through check-in

Image result for check in airport
“Hurry up and wait” should be the slogan of busy airports. 

Once we got to our airline, it was time to check in our bags. The airline we took had different kiosks, where you type in your confirmation code and the machine prints out a sticker that you then stick on your luggage.

Easy, right?

Not so much. There were no lines to go into. Passengers were waiting every which way. An airline worker had to call me over when it was my turn, and I hardly heard her. Finally at the kiosk, I printed the stickers for my wife and me.

Finally, I had the stickers. But again, there was a problem. On our departing trip, I had some trouble with these multi-step stickers.  The airline workers in our departure city, Warwick, RI, were very helpful and put the stickers on for me. They probably laughed at me when I left, but nevertheless, they put the stickers on for me.

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Trying to put on the sticker like the one in the middle just wasn’t going to happen.

1, 2, and 3 all lead up to: The Meltdown

Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to put them on, I thought it wise to go to the line that basically says, “Having trouble? We’ll put the stickers on for you.”

I handed our bags to the airline worker. He saw that I had the stickers, and he told me to put them on.

I wasn’t exactly in the mood for an origami lesson. I asked him if he could put them on. He looked me in the eyes and said, “No.”

Image result for no
Just what a nervous passenger wants to hear from the airline when he asks for help with stickers.

At that point, it was over. The culmination of coffee, lack of patience, and rushing around an unfamiliar airport caused me to lose it.

I began doing something I rarely do in public: I began swearing and making a scene. Two things prevented me from being escorted out of the airport:

  1. The fact that my wife was there and took the stickers from me.
  2. My swears were in French Canadian, and no one knew what I was saying. Why French? I have no idea. It was a weird reaction.  (Maybe because subconsciously I knew that if no one understood what I was saying, I wouldn’t be thrown out.)

The airline worker (or perhaps I should call him a non-worker) didn’t have any idea as to what I was saying and continued to tell me how to put the stickers on. My wife, who doesn’t get embarrassed easily, was able to put them on. The non-worker took our bags and threw them on the conveyor belt behind him. My wife then took me by the hand and pulled me away before I could cause any more damage.

After an hour went by, we were able to laugh at the situation.

So, if you get anxious or know someone who does, make sure you don’t let my mistakes get repeated.

Or perhaps you just shouldn’t have the coffee.

I won’t mention the airline. I know that everyone has a bad day, and every company has to deal with personnel issues. Although, if you are treated this way by an airline employee, file a complaint. 

I filed a complaint and was given a voucher off my next flight.

Have you or someone you know ever had a “moment” while traveling? Please share! 



  1. Bob, it seems that just about everything related to flying these days is rigged to raise your blood pressure. But I have to say, two absolute, solid rules we have is to allow plenty of time for everything and get to the airport early. Everything related to travel; getting a taxi, finding the checkin desk, security, etc., takes longer than it should, and being rushed just adds stress to an already stressful situation. As for your meltdown, at least they didn’t handcuff you. 🙂 ~James

    Liked by 1 person

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