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03 May, 2012

Atlanta Airport Simulation Day

Evie and I had the unique opportunity to participate in a simulation at the new Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal. Yes I listed it's full name because I think it's ridiculous.

A friend posted about the opportunity to apply for the simulation on her Facebook.  Being that I am the kid who loves things like fire drills, flash mobs, and airports I thought I'd be the perfect candidate.  In reading the application, they needed participants from all over North Georgia, all levels of travel experience, a valid passport, and a free day.  They also needed people with special travel situations, like wheelchairs, oxygen, etc.  I noted that I had a 6 month old in a stroller.  It must have been a golden ticket because we were assigned to be passengers #18 & #19 out of 1500!

The goal of the simulation was to train the airport staff and crew, test the computers and security equipment, and make sure the traffic flow for passengers was sufficient for the May 16 opening day of the new terminal.

A week ago they emailed me seven pages of instructions along with Evie and I's scripts for the day.  We received details about our "flight", where to park, what kind of luggage to bring, and different tasks we had to accomplish throughout the day.

Our scripts only listed some of the things we'd encounter during the day.  For example, Evie and I had to locate and use several of the family bathrooms throughout the lobbies and the terminal.  We also had to locate and attempt to take a taxi. 

Some of the unexpected things that came up were that Evie and I's "tickets" were listed incorrectly.  She was listed as having her own seat, but was "technically" an infant in arms.  I don't know if this was truly a glitch in the system, or if the simulation planners had this planned as part of the staff training.  Either way, the staff learned a lot through our scenario.

After we checked in and went through security we completed our first assignments: locate and use the family restroom.  We found it.  I used it.  Yeah, the locks didn't work.  I had three other moms walk in on me.  Noted.

Also, if you ever need your child to poop take them through airport security.  Evie is three for three.  Real flight or fake flight, that girl has pooped every time we've stood in line for security check. I think it's safe to say she christened the changing table in the family restroom.

Once that was done, I took the first set of surveys and attended a welcome reception in the mezzanine seating.  Coffee and Biscoff for all.  

I have always wondered if Biscoff actually tastes good or if it tastes good because it's all you get to eat at 5 am at 30,000 feet.  But, after trying it with two feet on the ground, it does in fact taste just as delicious.

Evie and I had a little time to kill before our "flight" to Korea took off so we wandered around for a bit.  Everything is just beautiful!  I can't wait for our (real) trip to Ireland so I can enjoy all the new amenities.

(Ignore my child eating her giraffe.  Look at those chairs! They look super stiff.  Nope. Your body just melts into them.)

Our "flight" got delayed.  Again, I am not sure if this was one of those things that was planned for the staff's learning, or if there was actually problems with the computers.  Either way, we all laughed that even fake flights out of Atlanta get delayed!

There were 27 Korean Air staff members welcoming us aboard our flight.  Evie and I even had to practice gate checking our stroller.  The staff cheered for everyone as we walked though the jet way.  Evie and I posed for pictures since she was the first baby to "fly" out of the new terminal.   I was seriously regretting not wearing making up doing my hair!

Oh, and Greg, they only let the premium passengers walk on the Priorty carpet.  Even on our fake flight.

The second half of our "itinerary" had us "arriving" from Korea.  We had to fill out customs forms and proceed through border patrol to baggage claim.  Evie and I's only scheduled tasks were to pick up our luggage and locate the taxi stand after clearing customs.

However, we got held up at customs because we'd been selected to "immigrate" to the United States.  We had a special escort, went to the holding rooms, and were interviewed about "becoming citizens".  This process actually had a lot of hassle and the TSA agents were taking furious notes about how this all needed to be rethought.  

You're welcome future Americans.  I hope I made your real immigration a little easier.

After this, the VP of Korean Air in Atlanta carried my luggage out to the car while we talked about my experiences. What a treat!  Evie and I had to complete our arrival tasks, take our exiting survey and pick up our box lunch and souvenirs.

We chatted with other passengers about how fun the day was and headed home for an afternoon nap.

And then we went out for Mexican with my inlaws.

Evie is ready for Cinco de Mayo. :)

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