Five stages of the airport travel mindset

Stages of the airport mindset


It’s early morning, a good morning. You get out of bed a bit easier than usual. It’s a good morning, after all. You perform you’re morning rituals in one order or another; washing, breakfast, hitting the shower. How a person starts the day makes all the difference, or that’s what they claim, at least. Today is the start of a new journey. Goodbye troubles and boredom, hello adventure and spectacle. But first, you have to get to the damn airport. Enter the five stages of hanging around the airport.

STAGE 1: Getting ready

You check your watch or whatever device you use to track time and see you still have plenty left. Time for a cup of coffee or tea, maybe some biscuits. There are no worries because you are a smart person. You packed your bag(s) thoroughly, forgot absolutely nothing. Transportation has been taken care of. Maybe a friend or a relative will take you to the airport. Public transportation? Nah, public transportation is a joke in my country. Taking your own car and driving yourself is an option, but “smart parking” isn’t as cheap as the advertisements say. One might as well take a cab.

Your ride arrives. One last check around the house to make sure everything can be left behind safely. Turning off the lights, the heater, unplugging the coffee machine and so forth. Is everything turned off? I’m sure of it. As you grab your bag and want to take it to the car, you realize: I forgot to pack something! Frantically you check you bag. What did I forget?! I forgot nothing. Actually, I did. Now you remember; you forgot to lock the back door. Upon checking if the back door is locked, you discover that it is.

STAGE 2: On the road

Small talk with the driver to fill the time. The conversation flows from one topic to another, occasionally interrupted by silence. A silence that grows longer and longer as a nagging feeling starts to take over. Did I forget something after all? You keep up appearances and pretend everything is fine. Damn, why didn’t we leave earlier, there would have been time to go back! No sense worrying about it now…

The car pulls up at Departures and you get out. Your driver tells you goodbye, prompting you to wave back as he drives off. You rush inside the airport and start digging through your bag or suitcase. Where’s that damn passport?! Wrong compartment. You check the other one. There it is, all safe. See? I knew everything was fine. You feel silly and get going

STAGE 3: Killing time

No matter how short the line is, checking in takes forever. Luckily, you’re prepared and made sure you’re traveling with hand luggage only (Seriously, travel with hand luggage only as much as possible). That’s one line that can be skipped. It’s straight to Passport control. There’s another line there, unavoidable, but short. Einstein’s theory of relativity applied to airports: Standing in line takes for ever, but not really. Nerves start to play up. Oh no, I look nervous, they’ll think I’m hiding something! They don’t think you’re hiding something. You’re through. Those hours were actually minutes. So much time left to kill. It’s early and waiting at the gate seems like, go figure, a waste of time. So what should one do? I know, I’ll explore the airport.

Ten minutes later…

I’ve explored the airport. Exploring an airport once or twice is fun, but the more you visit the same airport, the less remains to explore. Still, there’s plenty of time left till boarding so you make another round. At your most casual pace you work you’re way through the shops. Check out some electronics, some magazines. Nothing really worth buying. Tax-free shopping? Tax free shops are approximately zero percent cheaper than regular shops. Bars and restaurants are approximately 50 percent more expensive than regular ones. You haven’t left the country yet and already you’re getting ripped off. Somehow you manage to resist the urge to buy all those bargains and head back to the gate.

STAGE 4: Boarding.

Upon returning, you see a crowd of people has beaten you to all the decent seats. You could opt to squeeze yourself in between strangers, but you feel slightly uncomfortable doing that. Sadly that means you’ll have to stand or sit down on the floor. Despite all that exploring, there’s still a lot of time left. Good thing than, you came prepared. You brought a (e-)book and music with you. Why didn’t I do this when I got here earlier?

Tick tock goes the clock until people are finally allowed to board. Of course, business class passengers get to go first. Jerks. And now? Do you get in line ASAP or do you wait, take a seat as people pace forward like zombies into the plane. Whether you’re first in line or last, the plane ain’t flying till it’s flying, right? For the most spectacular of banal reasons you compromise and manage to find yourself somewhere in the middle of the line. Which, is the worst place in line. Damn you, Einstein.

STAGE 5: Take off

As you walk through, the jet bridge, that exciting feeling you had at the start of the day comes back. You’re finally going on a holiday. A broad smile on your face as the flight attendant greets you and point you towards your seat. All that’s left now is storing your luggage and the party is ready to start. Excuse me, pardon me, sorry, my bad. People apologize to another as they clumsily try to avoid bumping into their fellow passengers in the far too narrow aisles. People sitting next to aisles pretend not needing to cover their head for the reality of backpacks smacking into their faces or the chances of improperly stored luggage falling out of the overhead compartments.

Eventually, you to, have found your seat and it next to the window. Perfect! But who will come sit next to you? Please don’t let it be children, please don’t let it be children. It’s a couple and their adorable baby. Oh well, at least it’s only a twelve-hour flight. Luckily, if there’s one thing airports can teach us, is that time flies. You sigh. Enter the five stages of flight…


  • 1