Flying sucks part one: airports
Traversing the world and seeing the most amazing sights that planet earth has to show is a dream come true. For me, the excitement begins when I’ve completed the initial flight booking – I know that its game on and I start looking forward to the wonders of what awaits me. Excitement, joy and the complete happiness are the main emotions I feel. But there’s a catch, a huge catch that does quell all of the positive emotions in one go. Flying – I hate flying!
Let me first clarify that I don’t hate flying per se. I’m not afraid of flying in that I don’t have a physiological response that manifests itself in fear of losing my life. Nor do I have a sense of anxiety of being in enclosed spaces. I’m not afraid or have an aversion of being near people I don’t know. The simple answer is that I hate everything about flying. Going into detail about flying will be the subject of part 2 of this post so lets just say that it’s down to the monotony of it all that is why I hate it so much. However, moving on to the purpose of this post and why flying sucks – airports.
For most, the holiday begins at the airport and I always watch people in awe at how excited everyone is. You can clearly see the holiday feeling in people’s faces that manifests itself in the purchasing of last minute holiday items, food and the obligatory English ‘I don’t care what time it is I’m having a beer’ mentality. I just don’t get that anymore. There was a time indeed where I did have that holiday feeling written all over my face. Everything about the airport was exciting that it truly was part of the holiday. Now, that joy has all but disappeared.
Let me explain why in one simple word – frustration. I find everything about airports frustrating and downright boring. I might be showing my age here but I can distinctly remember a time when there wasn’t so much frustration in airports. International travel required you to be there two hours before, luggage allowance was over 20 kg, security was a breeze and everyone was in a good mood by the time we arrived at the gate. Now it seems that by the time you get to the check in desks you have to follow an array of rules and regulations that bring out the worst in all of us.
I can’t go into an assault on security as that wouldn’t be right of me to do so. However, one thing that I will moan about it is the stupidity of people. I have a mantra that I only worry about the things I have control over. So why people ignore the requests of the security and don’t follow procedure I don’t know. Take off you belt, put the contents of your pockets in your bag and use the greatest asset that all human beings have – common sense!
Once through the security and into the departure lounges, the real fun begins. The first frustration is what I like to call the Ikea Cosmetics. Years ago, Ikea came up with a unique way of directing people through their stores. Instead of being able to walk freely around the store and it’s departments, you were forced to walk in a predefined route that you couldn’t deviate from. It seems that now the predefined route in departure lounges is through the cosmetics and duty free shops. Then the sunglasses. Then the sweets and chocolate followed by the watches. Finally, after navigating your way through the endless corridors of high priced stuff you don’t need, freedom is granted. On to the next frustration.
Food. So much food. I’ve never wanted to be at an airport hungry as it seems such a waste of money. Why bother filling your face with food when you get it provided on the plane? I recently stuffed my face with a burger and fries at Hong Kong airport for one reason only – burn up some dollars. I felt quite the pig but a satisfied pig at that. However, the result of this was I wasn’t hungry on the flight and skipped my free microwaved tv dinner. Hang on…that’s not such a bad thing! But what is frustrating about this is there’s little else to do if you’re not sat eating or drinking.
Next is the airport gates. Depending on which airport you’re at means the gate varies on quality. The best provide free WiFi, TVs, toilets and comfortable seats. The worst just provide some plastic seats. Focusing on the worst (as I’ve only been in two airports in the world that offered the aforementioned comforts) there’s not a great deal to do. But the biggest frustration of them all is the boarding procedure. I’m yet to be on a flight where everyone knows the routine and does it exactly how is prescribed. It’s simple; you check the zone or row number on your ticket. If you’re in first class, business or have kids/special needs you board first. When your row is call you get up and board. If your row isn’t called, you sit down. It’s that simple yet why do people not get it?
After all the waiting, queueing, shuffling and waiting some more there’s the incessant sitting. There once was a time I found it all exciting. Now all I can do is think of the the arrival at the other end and wish I could just simply step into a booth and be beamed across, Star Trek style. Hmm, now that would be fun!