I’m typing this at 10,000 feet, cruising through the clouds, bound for Indonesia. Sel and I will do our best to switch off our sources of stress, avoid avenues of anxiety, and just have a damn good relax.
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
- Blank stares of overwhelmed passengers who are lost and confused
- Speeding trolleys of passengers who took their deadlines for granted earlier that day
- Exchanging cash for currency never seen before
- 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 sheepishly back toward the onlooking gallery
- Heartfelt hello’s and agonising goodbye’s
- Increasing excitement of embarking on a well-earned holiday
- Nail-biting nervousness having never flown before
- Seeing confident pilots stride along, when you realise 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
- 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 snaking between battered suitcases
- Clueless children, catching on only when they see holiday photos ten years later
- Comfort and practicality outdoing the need to look cool or 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 that 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 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. So if you want to witness a large group of people who at their most exposed and most honest, and watch how they handle one of the trickier experiences of modern-day society, 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 is 6 hours long and I have plenty of time to kill, I’m going to go off on a tangent.
All 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 and months earlier.
And occasionally you get on a plane and this happens…
…and everything that came before it melts away, and you start appreciating the small wins again. Like having space, and a quiet cabin!