airports; love them or loath them


I used to loath airports, considered them the speed bump on the road to my destination. As I am getting older, wiser … more experienced in travel, I have decided I love them.


Whether you’re traveling for business or for pleasure, you’re bound to be tired or you know you’re about to be tired after your trip. When you get to an airport and have gone through the mayhem of check in and customs, you will usually have a good hour or so to spare before your final boarding call. In this time, the world (/airport) is your oyster. This downtime is precious, pre or post travel. You can read without feeling guilty, give your best friend a call for an uninterrupted and most probably overdue chat, you can put your headphones on and zone out to the beat of your own drum (pun styled idiom semi intended) – and best of all – an airport is one of the few places you can lie down anywhere in any position close your eyes and look completely normal. No one questions what you’re doing or thinks you’re weird when you’re sprawled across seats asleep at an airport.

I fear a few Piscean traits will be shown in this post…but one of my favourite things to do is get lost in my own daydream while people-watching. Where better to do this than an airport?! There are so many ‘characters’ in the world and you see many of these at an airport. Usually it’s pretty easy to put these people you watch at an airport in to groups – each coming with their own set of stereotypical attributes of course…a few of my faves;

– the gypsy type; backpack, a tatty lonely planet guide, dreadlocks wearing Thai fisherman pants

– the corporate type; laptop/iPad, cellphone, overnight bag wearing a stiff suit

– the mother type; screaming tired children, too many heavy bags that she can’t carry alone, activity books with crayons wearing yoga pants stained with baby “stuff”

– the long-distance lover type; duty-free shopping bags full of clinking alcohol bottles, tissues, chocolate, trashy magazines and wearing a tear-stained face

– the loves to chat type; middle-aged – elderly, Sudoku book or similar, wheelie carry-on sized suitcase wearing smart/casual – but of course, sensible, comfortable and practical – travel attire. …. enter Bruce

54y/o male geo-tech engineer and private pilot named Bruce: are you a journalist?
Cinders: haha no, (that would be an insult to the practice of professional writing) – I’m blogging
Bruce: oh, enlighten me – can I go home and impress my teenage daughter who just thinks of me as her boring old dad who knows nothing cool and works in engineering by telling her I just met some cool young blogger girl?
Cinders – *laughing again* no, I wish, it’s a personal blog and it’s brand new. I only have five followers, two of which being my parents!
Bruce: *sighs* well, that’s too honest, you shouldn’t have told me the figures, now I can’t embellish the story! *sigh* So, you have three real blog followers and my daughter is still thinks I’m a dork – we deserve a wine, red or white?

Thus, the chat commences. Such a good guy, learnt about his career, hobby/passion & his worldwide travel – turns out Bruce and I have a mutual connection, the world is too small – but I am pleased that we now help form the typical NZ formula of the two degrees of separation rule. These days nearly anyone is connected to you somehow, so I’m pleased that Bruce is my new second degree.

I don’t know why duty-free shopping gets us so excited, but it does – doesn’t it? I can’t help but perhaps buy some gin, a lippy from the beloved M.A.C. try on all next seasons designer sunglasses – all because of that damn 15% saving. Like I said before – at an airport you have something that most of us are increasingly poor of these days – time. You’re kind of in a bubble – a very authority enforced, customs monitored bubble, but still – you’re free to roam, free to browse…which we all know usually ends in a guilty purchase or two (today’s duty-free purchase being the new M.A.C. Cream Cup lippy!)

Both adrenaline and emotion are rife at airports! The stress of not checking in on time, the nerves as you put your carry on bag on the rickety conveyor belt for x-ray, the fear of being stopped for random drug, ammunition or weapon testing, frustration at waiting in long lines with heavy bags – there’s so many things causing a whole bunch of strangers anxiety in a confined area. Watching this absolutely fascinates me and makes me giggle. The emotional side is where I show my real Piscean attributes – I always cry at airports. Arrivals, departures, outsider, insider – if you put $5 on me crying, it’s a pretty safe bet. As an outsider, nothing is nicer that seeing mothers, children, boyfriends, wives avidly waiting to welcome their loved ones with open arms.

At departures, you’ve got both ends of the scale. The combination of excitement and sadness caused by leaving loved ones while embarking on a new adventure is a tough one for all parties involved. The sadness on the faces of those left on the land side of the departures gate can be heart wrenching – goodbyes are never easy and don’t get easier, we can all relate to how these people waving their loved ones off are probably feeling. As an insider of emotional situations at airports…I don’t think I’ll even begin to write about it, Pisces are  naturally extremely emotional creatures – and I’m not even referring to the one too many long distance relationship goodbyes I’ve had at airports over the last few years.
All of these emotional airport episodes give me goosebumps and bring tears to my eyes each and every time I am there. Airports always makes me realise – just like that cheesy (but secretly fabulous) rom-com – that love really is all around. Sorry!

Yes, airports and travel can bring out the worst in people – but if you embrace the chaos, the stress, the traveler types, the emotion and the down time, I reckon you’ll find it hard to loathe an airport and find that there isn’t much not to love. There’s some gold glittering in all of them, you just need to look for the sparkle – I never thought I wanted to go to Russia, now – thanks to Bruce –  St Petersburg has just made its way on to my wanderlust list!

NB I am writing this while sitting at an airport waiting for my flight back to Auckland after a soon to be 14hour ‘day’ trip to Christchurch for work. I’ve been awake since 4am and have just been told my flight has been delayed a few hours – so perhaps my tiredness has made me delusional …but I’m sticking with it – I love airports!

airports airports2

Sarah x


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