Every late flight, every long connection, every airport is the same
|I hate flying, and I hate airports. I consider aeroplane travelling to be the worst kind of Public Transport. And yet, again, here I sit in a foreign airport waiting for yet another connecting flight that’s been delayed. We apologise for this inconvenience and do hope you enjoy your flight and will travel with us again. The announcement overhead is both apathetic and demeaning in the same breath. Look, it’s a shitty situation, but We’re both in it together. Only difference, I paid to be here, and you’re getting paid. And as your boss, I feel that you could give just slightly more of a fuck about me, my jetlag, sunburn and hang over and just do your job in a slightly friendlier manner. But who am I to make these demands of someone such as you. I’m only the customer.
I walk past the souvenir shop for the fourth time in an hour, that news stand guy can recognise the symptom of a delayed flight from where he sits behind all those fake glossy smiles. He watches a million strangers walk by, no longer caring where they are headed, no longer concerned of their plans to see long lost friends, estranged loved ones, or touristic enticements. He watches me walk past for the third, forth, fifth time. My weary steps slowing down with each lap of the airport, my face becoming the emotionless zombie glare of someone who knows they still have several hours Of boredom ahead of them before boarding, like cattle, and being forced to gestate the same re-conditioned Oxygen as 220 other set of lungs, breathing and rebreathing every breath of flatulence, sharing the mingIing of a trillion germs and viruses. Maybe my time confined to the airport is the better option. It’s certainly the healthier one.
Now, you’re Probably thinking that I’m just crying about first world problems, and you’d probably be right. But, come on, Why else would you be reading this. Right? And really, most encounters with airports are quite Pain free. Other times you know that you have some time to kill and plan accordingly. An overpriced meal can be exactly what’s needed in order to distract yourself long enough to just survive an hour or 2 wandering the walkways of this air conditioned nightmare. And it is interesting to see a foreign Version of something. But it’s those long delays that really add the damage, that 8 hour layover at Santiago de Chile, the cancelled connection at Schiphol, a 6 hour wait at Changi just so you can do the redeye to Sydney and avoid the curfew. I mean the plan is to always have as little time as possible between flights, an hour or 2 to walk the 14 km from gate 3 to gate 1,067, Scanning every flight screen you see to make sure your gate doesn’t change before you get there. Or you plan a layover long enough to justify leaving the airport for a few hours, or even overnight, if you’re feeling Particularly adventurous. But leaving the sanctuary of an airport in a foreign country is a special Challenge all unto itself, and one that deserves it’s own paragraph.
I mean, think about it. Besides the fact that you have been able to adult well enough that you can now afford to have such an expensive addiction as traveI, you’re also competent enough to be able to make your way around foreign food, language, and the occasional obscure Custom that you just cant quite reconciIe with your current perspective, and all this with just a little help from the internet. But now you face the Possibility that you can drop out of this fatigue ridden drudgery, and all it takes is a quick bit of research to see any visa issues, bounce thru security knowing full well that your luggage is safely and Securely housed within the confines of international security, not posing a threat to anybody until 30 minutes after I don’t show up to board my flight, when suddenly it spawns into a bomb. This is where the true test of what your countries Currency is actually worth. Assuming that this adventure is truly Sporadic, Then the only money you have is a handful of coins in the shape of baht, rupees or Kroner, and must now trade monies from the home country. This is never going to be pretty. Those involved in organised Crime pay 15% on the dollar to launder Their money, for your average tourist its closer to 40% at an airport. And its totally Iegal. But, you're out of security, and you're facing that line of Taxis, knowing full well you don't know a single district name, or tourist attraction, so using you're very best non frightened tourist voice, you just say downtown please. Now you spend the next 20 minutes hoping your driver actually takes you downtown, and not down some alley where a few of his closest friends are wanting to alleviate you of all your worldly possessions.
There's a lot to be said about this type of adventure, and depending who you are as an individual, would mean the difference between you reading this or scrolling Past to find something to do with the Kardashians, and because you are reading this you clearly give zero fucks about what a Kardashian is and instead already now just how exciting a wander through a foreign City can be. Getting lost in the back canals of Amsterdam, wandering the cobbled streets of OId town Prague, marvelling at the labyrinthine aIleys of Venice, while astonishing, pale in comparison to getting absolutely lost far from downtown chiang Mai, Dar Es Salaam or Riga. But this aint no travel guide, and I'm not going to bore you with all the things, you're just going to have to go out and experience it all for yourselves. Or watch the Kardashians do it.
Now, Of course, I'm in no way recommending that you go out and get mugged or murdered or worse, but you definitely need to be doing stuff that you wouldn’t normally do, and street food is definitely one of those things. I know, it's scary stuff, and yes you need to use precaution when doing So, but with the right knowledge, and correct amount of determination and balls, you should have a high probability that you wont ride the mile high porcelain bus. But for those whose constitution is as fragile as their Temperament then maybe book an aisle seat, just in case. Either way it's not going to be the worst thing that's happened to your holiday so far, I mean, you're wandering around a city you never thought you'd ever visit.
Of course, all of that assumes you can leave an airport. Not always the case. Sometimes you find yourself where you need to pay $100 for a visa just cos your Passport is the wrong Colour, or maybe outside is going to be a lot more dangerous than inside, or maybe your long stay just isn't long enough to warrant an outside adventure. And so you are now stuck with the insanity of watching the same Tropes of humanity on holidays as every airport employee. But they are paid to be here, while you, you actually Paid to have this experience. This is where everyone truly understands Einstein law of relativity. You see an hour in between flights on your itinerary and you groan cos you have the wait some. But really most of that is Taken up with the walk between Planes, you never really experience the hour that occurs there, instead you recall the 20 or so minutes at the gate where you study you're fellow Passengers, spotting the woman with the crying baby that will inevitable be seated way to close to your seat. You can believe your Self delusions, until you know that the real wait doesn’t even start the clock until you're at the gate, you can believe you're entire vacation is ruined cos you have to wait a few inconvenient minutes. But it's not.
You can find yourself at changi, 8 hours ahead of you, and barely notice. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to open an adventure Playground in an airport is a genius, and why every major hub doesn’t follow suit is beyond me. Because 8 hours at changi is like 2 hours at Heathrow, where as 3 hours in Christchurch is an eternity of staring at a Plain drywall.