After 11 months on the road, I no longer love airports.

I used to! At one time they held the romantic promise of adventure, discovery, and transient moments of connection in the flow of people in motion.

For me, these exotic imaginings were represented by the relatively prosaic symbol of the “airport,” which I reliably visited once or twice a year, even if only for short trips.

But after having spent countless hours in airports on three continents so far, sitting in or running through innumerable terminals at all hours of the day and night, I can confidently say that the romance has, uh, faded. 😉

JFK Jetwing
Early morning takeoff from JFK airport in New York, with the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

To vent my frustrations and to avoid the temptation to complain (because this is still a pretty cool thing to be doing!) I turn to humor, making mental jokes to myself to diffuse the tension. Because a bad day in an airport can rapidly devolve into the Worst Day Ever™, if I’m not careful.

So please enjoy this handful of my personal coping mechanisms. I’ve lovingly cultivated them over my trip in response/reaction to the state of air travel today:

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It’s so nice that airlines have started landing airplanes in shopping malls. Shop ’till you drop? Nah man, shop ’till you take off! ◊

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It’s even nicer to get extra exercise by being required to walk through the mall, rather than directly to where the planes are. Not like we have to be anywhere with a high degree of urgency. ◊

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How to price something in an airport: take the normal price and add at least one zero. ◊

Brisbane airport
Brisbane, Australia’s shopping mall. I mean airport. There’s a plane around here somewhere…

An alternate pricing strategy:
1. Overprice an item.
2. Call it “Duty Free.”
3. ???
4. It’s a bargain! ◊

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Not to brag, but I have an uncanny ability to select flights whose gates are at the end of the terminal hall, down a flight of stairs, into a well, through a cave, over a rickety bridge, inside the magic wardrobe, past the guard troll, then onto a bus, which takes me to a plane, that then takes me to my plane. I manage to pull this off even in the smallest rural airports. Which also have a mall. ◊

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The smallest airline seat I’ve ever sat in was on AirAsia. When I pointed this out to the Asian woman sitting next to me, she pointed out to me that as a six-foot-tall American man, I should have considered the implications of flying on AirAsia. ◊

Overboard
Avianca Airlines in Colombia goes a bit overboard with the whole “smoke” thing. I kept waiting for a famous DJ to run out of the cockpit.

Someday I will invent a paper towel dispenser that is motion-activated and become incredibly rich. Because the current models that work by yelling at them with wet hands are awfully frustrating. ◊

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Alternatively, there’s nothing like the gentle caress of air-dryers, whispering sweet nothings to the water on my hands, softly encouraging them to dry like a blossoming flower, over hours of sensual bliss. Yeahhhh…. ◊

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If “knowing all the essential details about each country’s visa and entry requirements before arriving” were a sport, I would not be an athlete in that sport. ◊

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In a scholarly study soon to be published in Nature, I outline the results of my research wherein I proved that neck-pillows are not, in fact, pillows. They are extraterrestrial parasites that attach to their host and trick them into believing they are sleeping more comfortably. ◊

Phoenix from the air
Early morning Phoenix, Arizona, from the air.

Remember, the people sitting in an exit row who are responsible for saving your life in an emergency pay extra for the privilege. Be sure to thank each one of them personally for their #everydayheroism. It’s OK to hold up the line to give them long, appreciative hugs. ◊

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Ranked in order of increasing difficulty, it is most challenging to use the toilet in moving:
3) Airplanes
2) Trains
1) Buses

At least airplanes have that going for them. I’d rather use the toilet on a rollercoaster than on a bus.

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If there were an Olympics of Profoundly Grating Personality Traits, flight attendants would win gold every time. Because “politely pushy” beats all, including “horse laugh,” “consistently late,” “overlong text messages,” and even, “lots of cologne.”

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At one point in my life I wasn’t sure if evil really existed. Until someone in front of me reclined their airplane seat back all the way.

Then I discovered that true wickedness lives in the hearts of men.

Landing at Narita Airport, in Japan
Early morning landing at Narita Airport, in Japan.

Murphy’s Law, Airport Edition: If a gate can be changed, it will be changed. At the last minute, in secret, whispered on the PA in a foreign language. Getting there will require walking through at least one additional mall.

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I don’t know if chemtrails are real. But I am fairly certain that airlines spray an unknown chemical compound in airplane cabins that instantly transforms even the sweetest sleeping angel baby into a shrieking velociraptor flushing out its prey from the bush. (Love you, parents!)

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This same compound has the side effect of turning Coca-Cola from a high-fructose-corn-syrup insulin bomb into the sweet nectar of the gods at 35,000 feet.

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I am always curious to see what airport security scans most carefully for in each country or region:

USA – terrorist devices, drugs, liquids over 100 milliliters (because we’re all trying to learn WTF a milliliter is), shoes

Australia – anything that the cutest, softest, fuzziest little bunny might consider sharp

Fuzzy bunny
In Australia, this little guy really doesn’t like my snub-nosed grooming scissors! Vewwy scawwy! (source: Google Images)

South America – fruit, drugs

New Zealand – fruit, dirt, dirt… no seriously if you have dirt get out

Indonesia – At the first full security check, fruit. At the second full security check, any drugs your fruit may have been doing. At the third full security check, terrorist devices that your fruit may have constructed while on drugs… but by that point your plane has left and your fruit has spoiled so who cares.

Japan – Except for one incident in 2009 where a Mr. Hiro J. of Sendai accidentally attempted to bring a half-empty lighter through security in his briefcase, touching off a national firestorm, no one has ever brought contraband on board a flight leaving Japan.

EverywhereSamsung Galaxy Note 7

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Got a favorite from this list, or your own airport observation? Let me know in the comments! -Will <3

SF from the air
San Francisco, from the air.

5 thoughts

  1. How about…while you have a carry-on bag on your flight from the U.S., once you reach your connecting flight in foreign country…I won’t mention any names *cough – Canada – cough* you in fact have an oversized bag that requires you to dismantle, carry half its contents on your person and ultimately check it. Probably not a problem for you, Will…Master-Packer 😉 Gotta love mini overhead bins…

    1. Canada has its own rules about time and space that differ from America. Best to avoid that country entirely. 😉

      And actually, every time I’ve flown in Australia I’ve had to check my bag! Apparently overhead bins here are not tough enough to take on my carry-on. *flex*

  2. ‘neck-pillows are not, in fact, pillows. They are extraterrestrial parasites that attach to their host and trick them into believing they are sleeping more comfortably’

    I’m not crazy!

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