Some chronically late people do, of course, intend to be on time. But a smaller group of frequent fliers heads into air travel with lateness as the goal, relishing the thrill of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. “I just really live for the feeling of literally running through the airport barefoot because you didn’t have time to put your shoes on after security, and your laptop is in your hand because you didn’t have time to put it back,” says my colleague Ellen Cushing, a senior editor at The Atlantic.
To the preternaturally punctual of the world, it can feel as though people like Cushing were put on this planet as an obstacle to our own timely destinies. But the willfully tardy are not simply trying to annoy their friends and family. Their motivations are much more psychologically complicated.
I started talking with friends and co-workers about their air-travel habits after Tim Herrera, an editor at The New York Times, live-tweeted his journey to the airport last Friday. “On my way to the airport. Flight’s at 2:45, boards at 2:20, my Lyft’s ETA at the airport is 1:48,” he wrote. “Feel like I haven’t been this early for a flight in years tbqh, might stop for a snack on the way.” That message and the updates that followed it garnered dozens of responses, mostly from people who could feel their own blood pressure rising as they imagined arriving to an airport on a holiday weekend with less than an hour to make it from the curb to their seat.