I spend a lot of time in airports. I was first put on a plane when I was just two months old. After that, my parents decided that I would just have to become accustomed to a nomadic lifestyle. My father’s work required him to move all over the world and, even when we weren’t in the process of moving, we were constantly going places – part of my parents’ attempts to instill a sense of culture and global awareness in my sister and me, driven by the fear that, god forbid, one day we’d ask to go to Disneyland instead of the Berlin Wall or the Louvre.
Traveling with family at a young age, I wasn’t able to really take in my surroundings. My mother and sister were often gripped with anxiety while my father tried to hold down the fort. In the midst of all this, I sought silence; I liked to watch the planes come in. It wasn’t until later, once I began to travel alone, that I turned my attention to those anonymous faces I’d probably never see again and began to notice patterns. Now, for the sake of keeping this short and sweet, I’ll only list the six types of people I’ve encountered in airports that have stuck out most to me. I think most people will have come across at least one of these.
1. The aging “Cabin Crew Service Manager”
Most commonly found working for major airlines and has seen the glamour of her occupation dissipate before her eyes (you have to fight for your seat on an easyJet flight?!) She hands out peanuts and pretzels to disgruntled passengers and coos at crying infants. Starched hair and scratchy polyester suit. Big fat smile that accentuates her crow’s feet. Often proficient in many languages due to eons of service. Speak to her politely and she’ll be your best friend for the next few hours.
2. The airport pervert
As a rule, people don’t look their best while traveling. Long hours spent in highly pressurized cabins will do that to a person. Consequently, a confirmation that you don’t look like the Corpse Bride could potentially be a welcome relief. Sadly, relief never comes in the form of a non-invasive, appreciative glance; what you’ll get from this kind of person is a full-on lascivious leer. +10 points if they have a wife/ girlfriend/ child with them (+100 for any combination).
3. The couple that, without fail, asks you if they can have your seat
Don’t have much to say about this other than: Why didn’t you choose your seat in advance? I certainly did. But sure, I’ll switch with you. Please enjoy my strategically positioned aisle seat (which I picked months ago) while I sit sandwiched between two fatties for the next eight hours. Damn you.
4. The loud, often drunk, passengers
Will ask for wine and beer and gin and whiskey and some of that after-dinner aperitif or whatever else they can get their hands on for free (usually all at once). Tend to not say please or thank you. Typically found to be male and in groups of three or more. Prepare for a sleepless flight.
5. The business man/first class passenger
Seen sporting a blazer, dark-wash jeans, and expensive Italian leather shoes. Alternatively (if going straight to work), will wear a suit. Spotted only at check-in, sitting comfortably in airport-lounges, and while boarding.
6. The person who is just like you
Usually engrossed in whatever is playing on their iPod/ laptop/ netbook/ iPad/ newest technological fad. Armed with sleeping pills and/or a mild sedative. All you want is some quiet and maybe a few of those roasted almonds. Is that too much to ask? It’s not often you hold people up while going through security, as you’ve prepackaged your liquids and carefully chosen an outfit that doesn’t require a belt. How considerate and prepared of you! Now, if you could just get on the plane. That would be great.
Disclaimer: these are the personal thoughts of a “person who is just like you.” Experiences may vary (especially if you fall under category #2).