I don’t know when they disappeared, exactly. I suppose it’s been a few years. But from my earliest memories of flying, a clear standout wasn’t the sharp acceleration of takeoff, the strangely clogged and popping ears, or emerging into a gleaming orange sunset after climbing above dense clouds. It came via the speaker system. Even though I was on a trip at that very moment, the connecting gate announcements were even more fodder for my travel-addled brain. Those onward destinations of my seatmates propelled my imagination even further afield. Taxiing in Miami, I learned that someone would connect to El Salvador at Gate A14. While descending into Raleigh, someone near me was going to Los Angeles at Gate B2. And London. Madrid. Tokyo. There were always more. New cities. Countries. Continents. I absorbed it. Wanted it. Depended on those announcements, even, to keep flying, if only in my mind
Those connecting gate readouts are gone now, at least on the airlines I fly, lost to the dustbin of inefficiencies. Replaced by myriad television monitors and phone apps and text messages. We’re all going somewhere.
Today’s trip marks the beginning of more than 33,000 miles of flying over the next 20 days. Full circle. Including some of those exotic destinations I dreamed of during those connecting gate announcements. It’s going to be a wild ride.