I have been at the Lincoln, Nebraska Municipal Airport since 5 am. And I’ll tell you what – it’s a pretty relaxing experience.
I’m here due to a cancellation of the first flight of the day (it’s almost 4pm and I won’t be leaving until around 7). I’m in a standby status, and I’ve got my hopes pinned on that last flight of the day to O’Hare.
So… I did what I always do when I’m stuck at the airport – taking stock, taking photos, writing a blog entry. It’s my way, and the way of all my people <grin>.
Nowhere on the planet are sports more of a big deal than Lincoln, NE. College football here takes on a mammoth presence, people driving, busing, trucking, RV-ing in from all points Nebraska to party and cheer on the Cornhuskers.
But football is not my sport – traveling is my sport. I memorize the playbooks of flying, read the safety cards, workout to stay fit for running to my next connection with a 15 lb carry-on bag. I love the big, crowded, chaotic hallways of O’Hare and Newark and Houston. But I also love the small airports – and Lincoln, Nebraska is on my favorites list.
What does one do for twelve hours in a tiny airport on the Great Plains? Since the weather has finally warmed up, you can walk out across the small but still not packed parking lot and look at the great big airplane behind the fence at the Nebraska Air National Guard. Check out the tailfin, there’s a proud “NEBRASKA” perched there. Beyond the fence is a restricted area, of course, and thank you to the ANG for their unflagging service to our country.
There are just two airlines that fly in and out of LNK (airport code for Lincoln) – Delta and United. There are four gates, but never more than two in use at anyone time that I have ever observed. There are four flights to and from Chicago O’Hare, three flights to and from Minneapolis, and two flights to and from Denver. This means short lines and smiling gate agents. They are busy, most of them multi-task ticketing, gates, baggage, and other customer service duties, but even when things get crazy like they were here today, there’s a smile and a personal touch. Even the very thorough TSA agents are pleasant and unharried. These people are good at their jobs, I guess it’s that midwest work ethic we hear about on the coasts.
Next, I made note of flora and fauna, and although last week included two days of snow, it seems Spring Has Sprung. The grass is green, the bushes budded, and the trees blossomed.
Inside, I found some lovely identified artwork, and one anonymous mural.
An exhibit of stunning nature photos flanks the escalator up to the security and the four gates. Michael Forsberg, a conservation photographer of note and one of my personal favorites (and top of the list for nature specific photography) has a gallery in the historic district of Lincoln, if you have time it’s worth a trip. His work is SENSATIONAL, I highly recommend you click that link (which will open a new browser window) and take a look. Amazing. He’s a native Nebraskan and was first known for his stunning, often unbelievable images of the Sandhill Cranes that migrate to Nebraska in Spring.
If you find yourself in the Lincoln airport – and I am recommending that you actually do it on purpose someday – stop by the Customer Information Desk. I met Al and Shirley, who could not have been more helpful. They helped me know where to go inquire about my luggage, whose future was a bit uncertain due to my perpetually variable schedule, and then told me about the Lincoln Flyer’s Club.
Through Shirley I discovered the Lincoln Flyer’s Club. This is like an airline club lounge in a bigger airport, and is for people who live in Nebraska who fly more than 12 times a year, OR who are premiere members of their airline’s frequent flyer program. Happily, I have added this Flyer’s Club card to the growing stack of other club cards in my travel bag.
The Lincoln Municipal Airport is just as charming as it can be, and quiet and friendly and easy to wander around in. There is food, free wi-fi, mail service, telephones, assistance for people with disabilities, and an ATM. I give it a two thumbs up. These photos give you a taste – I just discovered the panorama feature on my cell phone camera, so I went a little panorama crazy.
Final Note: I did make it onto that 6:45 flight, had a gate change at ORD that meant I only had to walk 6 gates down to my next flight instead of changing concourses at a run, and reached my final destination about midnight. It was worth it. As I came off the plane at ORD’s gate B14, this happy sight was there to greet me.
For more information on Lincoln, Nebraska, visit http://www.lincoln.org.