Ever feel like a mouse? Go to an airport. You never really know what the big picture is, there are hidden pathways that you cant see, someone is always watching you and the cheese at the end is dubious. Some airports are better than others, but that’s more a reflection that you will be spending a lot of time in them and someone took pity on the poor travellers than any desire to make them destinations. Noone ever goes on vacation and raves about the gardens in the airport or the quality of the airport day hotels, but oh, to the business traveller, every bit of false normality is welcome.
The small airport. This is the airport that everything is right there in your face. The one I saw was in China…way inwards in China. You can see the ticket sellers, the check-in booth, the luggage handler dude, the security check and the door to the plane all from standing in one spot. There is a nice benefit to all this because you aren’t ever really separated from your group – which is a great security blanket when you don’t speak the language!
The very small airport. There is the quaint airport in this little town in the South-Eastern US. The one that still issues a ticket in a piece of regular paper. I carried that ticket with me to a major hub airport where they said that had never seen that and promptly tore it up and issued a regular one. The airport was also so small that the prop plane pulled up to the door and we just walked out and got on. Oh and the car rental dude had to wait for the plane because it was late!
The developing country airport. Then there are the airports that are too big to be quaint, but too small to really have a lot of the modern conveniences. So the bags were unloaded into a room and then the passengers fought to get in and out of the room and grab their bag (also in China). Or there are the airports where there are no rooms at all (one of them in Brazil – fastest service I ever had though).
The airport decoration. However, no matter the size of the airport, those uncomfortable scoop plastic chairs from the 70s are always in style. These are the chairs that you stick to in hot weather, that give you a hemrroid in cold weather and that you slide off of if you’re not careful. And they are usually orange or dirty white. I still remember those chairs. ow.
The airport constants. These transcend language. There are just things that you don’t do at an airport. It doesn’t matter where I am, I know the security pat down routine. It may vary a little but you still have to hold your arms out, feet slightly separated, wait, turn, wait, explain you are wearing a belt buckle, turn, smile and hope for the best. Interestingly, the only parts that generally change are a) whether they pat down all of your bra, just the middle or just the underwire or b) whether they physically feel your hems/cuffs. Other than that, I swear all security people around the world go to the same “pat down” school.
The luxury elements. But the airports you really remember and appreciate are the ones with business lounges. With hot free food. And hot showers with fluffy towels. Like the one in madrid! Even the toiletries were nice almost to the point that you wanted to take them with you. Then there are amenities like in schiphol in amsterdam with a mini art gallery to while away the time between connections; but only if you are in the right area of the maze…i mean airport. The singapore airport of course has the gardens and the pool and if you get the right angle your photos look like you visited the botanical gardens. The british airways lounge in heathrow term 5 is very nice. Any of the airports with the massage clinics rate high in my book.
And I’ll leave you with a last thought….if I can write a post this long just about airports, you know I’ve travelled way too much!!!!