When I wrote about the special 18-mile United flight yesterday, I had no idea how much of an emotional roller coaster I was about to embark upon. It was a painful day. But ultimately an instructive one.
United Airlines ran a one-off Burbank to Los Angeles flight yesterday, a distance of only 18 miles with a flight time of only 15 minutes.
My office is 10 minutes from Burbank Airport. When I saw the flight yesterday, my first thought was not if I could take it, but whether I should take it.
But as I followed the flight path on Flightradar24, my heart quickly filled with regret. The flight cruised at 5,000 feet and took a scenic route over the Hollywood sign and downtown Los Angeles.
Not only would I have had the plane virtually to myself (only one other passenger in first class and just a handful in economy class), I would have been afforded incredible views of my hometown.
And even more importantly, it would have been a great story for the blog and a unique route that has never operated before and might never operate again. Taking a mainline United flight between the two airports I use most would really have been special.
You can imagine the regret that set in. I had the chance and I forfeited it. This unique moment was available to me and I let it pass. And why?
Because I did not want to deal with 90 minutes of traffic in an Uber going back to the office. At the time, I thought it was a waste of time and money. I have a business to run, after all. Who has time for fun and games at a whim?
And I recognized, even at the height of my misery, that I did make the rational choice and my deep feelings of regret were purely irrational emotional reactions. I’d even go so far as to call them childish (not that such a realization made me feel any better).
Later in the day, after my wife gently consoled me and my business partner more bluntly pointed out that I was acting crazy, some discernment returned.
Why don’t I get this concerned when I miss out on a dinner with my family? Why don’t I make it a priority to spend more time with my parents and grandmother? How can I be more devastated about missing an ultimately inconsequential 15-minute flight than all that is wrong in our world today?
I would be lying if I said I am glad I missed the flight yesterday. I’d rather have my cake and eat it too. Ultimately, though, if the missed flight leads to a bit more discernment in my time and priorities, it was a good thing.
Can any of you aviation geeks out there understand my state of mind?
image: JCS / Wikimedia Commons