Airports: The giant melting pot

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:

airportsecurity
Image courtesy of http://www.genesys.net
  • 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
airline-comics 4
Image courtesy of http://www.autothrottle.com

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…

IMG_0759
Clearly not everyone wants to go to Indonesia, much to our delight!

…and everything that came before it melts away, and you start appreciating the small wins again. Like having space, and a quiet cabin!

Happy travels!

17 thoughts on “Airports: The giant melting pot

  1. Hey Mike! I know it’s a few days (or rather, weeks) late, but I’m so glad I clicked over! I loved the post, and your style is easy on the eyes! Personally, I find that I really enjoy travelling on my own, but once someone else gets involved… well, then it’s a different kettle of fish. (side note: kettle of fish? Just pictured it for the first time. Interesting!) All of a sudden my placid and enjoyable holiday gets pulled into a heated debacle that concludes with us arriving at gate, both red-faced and out of breath. And just in time… to still be classed as early!

    I look forward to your future blog posts, and hopefully I’ll be posting one in the (not so) near future!!

    J! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I actually do not flying. If I never step on a flight again in my life it would not bother me, sure I would miss out on places that I want to visit but so be it… actually I say I don’t like flying buy that is untrue, I don’t like crashing. Whilst I may get a 1000 flights and never once have an issue my fear of “this could be the one that goes down and we are all over the news” stops me.

    My missus wants to go away for my birthday this year, where she wants to go will involve a flight so ill have to either suck it up or go somewhere else. (Being in the UK we have the option of trains (and Eurostar to Europe) .

    But I like airports, I like the buzz of them, the promise of adventures (even if I am too chicken to step aboard a flight to get that adventure).

    I was going to ask what you thought of those tracks but if your 10k up I doubt you will have listened, enjoy your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not a big fan of flying but I’ll sacrifice it for the benefit of traveling. I figure if it’s someone’s time to go, it’s their time to go. It would be a horrible experience, but it’s just another part of life that I guess I’m happy to risk. But I can certainly understand some people’s apprehension – it blows my mind that these heavy machines can stay airborne for so long at a time. I’m just getting to your tracks now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love flying…I hate airports. That said, I have seen every single one of the examples you posted…and then some. I find it most enjoyable to fly solo..leaving my hubby behind somewhere to figure things out for himself. I don’t mind other travelers (for the most part) but tiny screaming babies and old boozy lechers have to learn to take other flights and not share my plane with me. Love the way you write and so grateful to have found yet another nice person with a good style to follow! http://www.suziland.net

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t mention the screaming babies but that can certainly make or break a flight. I’m not the biggest fan of flying to be honest, but it’s a small sacrifice to get to the other end. Thank you so much for the compliments! I’m just going through your blog now 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Its true, isn’t it? The great melting pots of airports. Humanity squashed together inside the airport to be further compressed at the gate before being tightly packed and sealed up in the cabin. So many individual stories, sharing for a brief time, a single journey. Bon voyage!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha you almost gave me claustrophobia with that comment. But it’s true, there are so many stories and if you put yourself out there even a little bit while traveling, you meet some fantastic people!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mike, your post reminds me of the time I was making a layover in Houston and an old Russian lady in the opposite row of seats was asking for help (in Russian) from a befuddled young American guy next to her. I have a background in Russian, so I went over and asked how I could help. Instantly her face lit up and she said with a mighty grin, “ВЫ по русски!” (“You speak Russian!”). I was able to answer her question about her ticket and all was well again. One of my more memorable travel experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The one part of humanity I didn’t include in my laundry list – selflessness from people who can still see others in need despite dealing with their own stuff. Nice work Dave and I’m even more impressed that you can speak Russian too 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Really love the point about showing your true self. In today’s society it is so easy to be fooled by the shows everyone puts on and this is a refreshing outlook on perspective. Sometimes you Have to practice a little patience and observe just to see people reveal themselves for who they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for the compliment :)) Sel & I don’t have dramas traveling together but I don’t know how others can do it with bigger families & kids etc. That would possibly tip me over the edge lol
    I’m glad you’re sticking around, I’m looking forward to your posts too!

    Like

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