I typed this at 10,000 feet, cruising through the clouds, bound for Indonesia. Before boarding this flight though, I couldn’t help but notice my airport experience, and although it was like every other airport experience I’ve had, this time I had a keyboard handy so I thought I’d take a few notes.
Airports are the epitome of the melting pot, blending different cultures, emotions, expectations, fears, excitement, and honesty all together to form something incredibly unique. I’ve learnt today that honesty is my favourite thing about airports. When someone has to navigate an airport, his or her honesty is what’s left when the blending eventually stops. Not the I won’t steal someone else’s bag type of honesty, but the open yourself up to everything life can throw at you honesty.
First, here’s just some of the fun you’ll see and experience at an airport:
- The meshing of every different culture, race and religion on the planet
- The blank stares of overwhelmed passengers who are lost and confused
- The speeding luggage trolleys of passengers who took their deadlines for granted
- Exchanging cash for currency you don’t yet understand
- The anxiety from passing official-looking customs officers, guns at the ready, who all seem to be looking at you and no-one else (*disclaimer: I don’t think they have guns but anxiety doesn’t always equal rationality)
- Forgetting loose change in your pocket until the metal detector shrieks at you, sending you back sheepishly toward the onlooking gallery
- The heartfelt hello’s and agonising goodbye’s
- The increasing excitement of embarking on a well-earned holiday
- Nail-biting nervousness from those about to take their maiden voyage in the sky
- Watching confident pilots stride past, and realising for X amount of hours, they’ll have your life in their hands
- Deciphering flight times, check-in times, boarding times, flight numbers and gates
- Hearing crackling P.A. messages non-stop for late passengers, boarding calls and gate changes, and moans and groans that follow the ‘flight has been delayed’ message
- Sniffer dogs suspiciously weaving between battered suitcases
- Clueless children, not understanding where they’re going until they see holiday photos ten years later
- Comfort and practicality heavily outweighing the desire to look fashionable
- Body odour, wafting from those who haven’t showered in 18 hours, and still won’t until they reach the holy grail that is their next hotel room
So why did I mention honesty? Because regardless of whether you’ve flown once, or a hundred times, you get an honest look at yourself (and a lot of other people) inside an airport.
- Did you forget something, or are you organised?
- Are you carefree and relaxed, or a bucket of nerves and stressed during every step of the process?
- Are you patient, or do you get angry with airport staff when they told you something you didn’t want to hear?
- How do you react when your flight is delayed? Or when you turn a corner to join a line zigzagging for what seems like miles?
- Do you start to sweat as you near customs officials?
- Do you follow instructions, or do you hold everyone else up because you didn’t take your laptop out of your carry on bag?
- Have you learnt anything from your previous airport excursions?
For the most part, the way people act in airports is how I assume they act in everyday life, except here its magnified.
So if you want to witness a large group of people at their most exposed and most honest, and watch how they handle one of the trickier experiences in modern-day life open your eyes next time and have a look around the melting pot that is an airport.
Normally that would have been the end of my post. But because our flight was 6 hours long and I had plenty of time to kill, I went off on a tangent!
All of this airport malarkey happens before you even set foot on the plane, which is a different experience again; squashy seats, in-flight meals, no in-flight entertainment, passengers with rock-hard elbows, the failure of some to realise their luggage isn’t going to fit in that small gap, ear-popping cabin pressure, the guy who refuses to turn his phone off, seats that don’t feel like they recline, unless it’s the seat in front of you which feels like it reclined a good metre, turbulence, holding patterns, and last but not least, the safety demonstration and subsequent realisation that a lifejacket under your seat hasn’t helped anybody in the plane crashes you saw on television just weeks earlier!
And occasionally you get on a plane and this happens…
…and everything that came before it melts away, and you start appreciating every small win Like having space, and a quiet cabin!