Understanding Airport Announcements

I recognize that at my advanced age I may not be hearing as keenly and clearly as I used to, although I always seem to CLEARLY hear the neighbor’s dog at 5 in the morning!!! There are many excuses for not hearing well: I’m a male, I was chewing, my allergies were ramping up, I was focused on the problems of the world, and other mentally draining issues.

But– and that ‘but’ indicates that the most important reason is about to be written– announcements voiced in airport terminals are like a foreign language. Sometimes it’s as if you are in a room where half-a-dozen conversations are going on at the same time, a jumbled conglomeration of gibberish resulting in confused looks amongst the hundred people standing around trying to understand what is being said.

Last week, as our gate agent began to announce the latest delay for our flight, a louder voice boomed through the terminal corridor to remind us, in case we had forgotten, that no smoking was allowed in the terminal or the restrooms. I wondered if a cranky airport employee had discovered the volume knob and given it a half-twist clockwise. After all, we were already biting our fingernails in anticipation of when the actual updated, updated, and updated departure time was going to be. Did our latest anticipated news need to be preempted by a reminder that tobacco products were taboo?

A while later a different gate agent, three Red Bulls into the day, made a speed-reading announcement that was faster than a test car speeding down the Bonneville Flats. It was like a disclaimer sprinted through at the end of a TV commercial that has to fit into five seconds or less.

The non-smoking announcement drowned out the fact that the departure gate for our non-stop to Cincinnati had been changed from A44 to A36 to make room for another flight that was going to Cleveland. It was like the Bengals’ game being preempted by the Browns, and when was the last time the Browns were in the Super Bowl???

In a time when confusing messages seem to be proliferating faster than the rabbits in our neighborhood, airports are following the trend. News I need to hear gets drowned by the the loud drivel of the irritated. The most soft-spoken has the most important words to share, while the things we’ve heard a thousand times gets pounded into our brains.

Wouldn’t it be great to get this unexpected announcement sometime? “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Your Frontier Airlines is scheduled to leave on time at the very gate it says it’s departing from!”

Am I hearing things?

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