I’ve wanted to do it every time it’s been offered to me. Free travel. And all you have to do is hang out for a bit. There was always a reason not to do it. Work the next morning. A wedding we couldn’t miss. But there we were, having coasted through the Austin airport with TSA pre-check, ready for our flight to Wyoming. We’d enjoyed the quick flight to Dallas, grabbed Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, split a pretzel and were at our gate when the offer came over the intercom: “We’re looking for two passengers who would be willing to give up their seat for a later flight in exchange for a $500 voucher.” We thought about it, but didn’t pull the trigger. Then they upped it to $700 each, more than the cost of our trip. We consulted with Suzy, she suggested hanging with her one afternoon wasn’t worth $1400* so we should make a day of it at the airport. And like our boy Viktor Navorski before us, we made the most of our time in “The Terminal.” Technically, The Terminals. We were free to bounce around from one to another based on who had the best spa or ice cream options. Here’s how we killed
7 9 hours in the Dallas airport.
*I definitely disagree with this sentiment, but I also sincerely appreciate her flexibility so we could get some flight monies!
Once we got our vouchers, we did a quick walk around, mostly just Caitlin looking at the first of many candy shops*. Then we found a spa just down the hall in the terminal we were in, set a budget for ourselves and immediately went over it. I was intrigued by the full body massage while Caitlin opted for the foot massage and manicure. If we were gonna be paid $100 an hour each to kill time in the terminal, we might as well treat ourselves with some of it. My $80 massage was just as good or better than the fancy spa ones we’d gotten that cost 3x as much. I even forgot I was in an airport. Caitlin looked like she was in heaven as she got her foot massage**.
*I also spent some time perusing the Directory to see where everything was so we could plan out our day.
**I seriously cannot recommend this practice enough when you have a delay between flights. It was like I was magically transported, and came out with my fingers looking amazing.
After more aimless wandering, we took the shuttle to an international terminal to get Caitlin some Ben & Jerry’s. We played an epic battle of Monopoly Deal that Caitlin handily won 10-5 and then she made fun of me for not knowing what language the travelers next to us were speaking in*. We were still in pretty good spirits at this point and only had about 3 hours to go. We slowly made our way to the wine tasting we promised ourselves we’d do**.
*It was light teasing at best, but they were speaking German!! C’mon!
**Check out those shiny pink fingernails. LEGIT.
We went for the champagne flight and split a kale salad and cheese plate. Surprisingly/disappointingly, the salad and cheese plate were WAY better than any of the wine we had (we ended up getting another glass after the flight to wash down the food).
The champagne was decent and the cheese plate and kale were as good as it gets for airport food. We were in the home stretch of our 7 hour layover on top of the one hour we had planned and were content in how we spent our time. Then we got to the gate and saw we were pushed back another 2+ hours.
American gave out some free snacks to apologize for the delay and we took them, but were bummed we now couldn’t have dinner with my sister and had run out of good airport vibes*. Still, we missed half a day and have a whole new trip to take.
*I was definitely completely exhausted at this point and just wanted to be at the final destination. Still, the massive amounts of food (bananas, cookies, chips, half sandwiches and full cans of soda) were super appreciated.
My top three places to visit with our voucher:
- San Francisco
- Jackson Hole
Zack’s list is really appealing to me! We’ve never been to Seattle and are definitely dying to go, San Fran is always a good time and it seems like we have more and more friends there to hang with, and Jackson Hole completely won us over (we’ll have that story next), and of course Suzy and Sky are there. All that said – $1400 is a trip abroad, and that’s what tops my list:
- New Zealand