My day started at 4 AM, New York time with email and phone chats with traders, followed by a steady stream of meetings beginning at 6 AM. I finished the day early, but it was no problem for the car service to pick me up in advance to take me to LaGuardia for the flight back to Chicago.
Chatting with the driver, I found out why the car was so available to pick me up early: business was down 50% compared to the same time last year. "Sometimes we have to wait a few hours to get a ride," the driver explained. Indeed, he pointed out that he was working 16 hour days to make the same amount of money he used to make in a normal work day.
Traffic was not too bad, so I got to the airport at 12:20 PM. I gave the driver a nice tip, went to the kiosk to print out my boarding pass, and then went to the customer service line to see if I could standby on an earlier flight. There was no line at customer service. The agent smiled and told me I could get a great seat on the next flight at 1 PM. "We have lots of open seats," she explained.
I then went through security. The TSA agent told me I didn't have to go through the "priority" line as a frequent flier; there was no one else on *any* of the security lines.
Now this isn't some dinky backwater county airport. This is LaGuardia airport in New York City. No lines at customer service. No line whatsoever to get through security.
The flight was only about 25% booked. There were many more empty seats than filled ones.
Unbooked cars. Empty airports. Unfilled planes. Just a little slice of life that reminded me of what a severe recession this truly is.