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Travel is not a team sport

We’re all in this messy boat together. We’ve all made our choices, we all don’t like the process, and we all have to go through security one by one. And if I’m there earlier, I go first.

“But we’re fourteen!”

That was the argument from a traveler last Friday morning at 5.18 am when I was in a massive security line at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

The lady was talking to a security assistant and making her case that she was about to miss her flight with her group if she would not be allowed to get to the front of the line.

The fact there were fourteen and therefore it would take even more time should convince the assistant.

So she believed.

The assistant politely declined. And again. And again. Making her case that everyone was in the same boat and warned well in advance to be early.

Ok, I’ll admit, I was also warned, but even I, a seasoned traveler, was surprised by the crowds at 5 am in the morning.

It was a whole new world at the end of the night.

While waiting, there were several attempts from other travelers to try to skip the line. All politely declined. Sometimes, the message needed to be repeated a few times before people heard the message.

It’s obvious. Once you start allowing people to do this, you open the flood gates. Suddenly everyone has an urgent reason.

So the staff was clearly instructed not to allow anyone to jump the line.

We’re all in the same boat.

The whole ordeal reminded me of a colleague at my former corporate employer.

Whenever we traveled ‘together’ back to Amsterdam from wherever we were, he would immediately disappear as soon as we arrived at the airport.

We would not see him back until we boarded the plane. Where he had a seat separate from us.

Once I asked him why he did not join us for drinks, some food, or just conversation.

“Erikjan, travel is not a team sport.”

Former colleague
His argument was that things get more complicated when you try to move, arrange, change, and fly as a group.

“There’s one seat for you on that plane. As long as everyone makes sure they get to the plane on time and take their seat, we’re ok.”

Of course, this was a little extreme on his part, but he has a point.

Things get complicated and slow down when you’re trying to move around an airport as a large group.

You will still witness individual behavior even in a large group of like-minded people.

Different wishes, a different pace, different stress levels. Some like to talk; some like to sleep; some like to watch something, and some like to eat or drink.

Trying to keep it together only creates more complications.

There are moments you show up as a team, and there are moments you’re on your own.

When you decide to show up as a team, you need to be aware of the consequences. Thinks need to be more prepared, organized, and coordinated.

When you decide to travel with fourteen and fly from Schiphol airport this summer, you will need to show up very early, book a different flight, and pay for business class.

But don’t expect to skip the line.

We’re all in this messy boat together. We’ve all made our choices, we all don’t like the process, and we all have to go through security one by one.

And if I’m there earlier, I go first.

Sorry. Travel is not a team sport.

Your turn: What type of traveler are you? What does that say about you?

Do more of what makes you happy!


PS I. I wrote this on an early morning flight to Prague. The flight attendant informed me that 25 passengers were not on the flight as they didn’t get through security on time. Ouch.

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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