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Why I Love the Airport (and So Should You!)

Yeah..I get it.  The airport!  Ack… *cue the music*

Overpriced food and drinks! Massive layouts that never seem to have your connection in the same place as your arrival. Long lines to take your shoes off, put your shoes on…take three steps, hold your hands up in the air, and stand still.  Probably the closest thing to prison that many people get without wearing orange overalls.

And for the bonus round, security is going to dig through your bag and throw away that expensive bottle of 4 ozs worth of perfume.  Good news -> they will be offering you the same perfume for purchase at a jacked up rate about ten steps past the gate!

Not much to feel joyous about in the airport, right?

For many people, the airport is a massive mess of complicated rules and regulations with a mixture of friendly people who would do anything in the world to make your flight experience better and people who obviously hate their job so much that merely talking to you is a deal breaker.

The truth is that the airport represents a microcosm of our world and a miniaturization of humanity all at once.  The airport is probably the only place that you can see people exactly as they are and – at the same time – exactly how they want to be.

The airport is the great mixture of the ID, the EGO, and the SUPEREGO at any given crossroads in the world.

Here are three reasons that I love the airport (and so should you!):

The Best of Time, Worst of Times

You can see people at their very best and at their worse.  Airports are the place where people go when they are excited and happy.  Some people are going off on their dream trip or honeymoon with their new spouse.  Some people are taking the kids to Disney and others are going to a family reunion.

At the same time, you will find people at the deepest levels of emotional suffering as they say goodbye to a child leaving for college or a family member they might never see again. You can see the pain and suffering in a daughter after the loss of her mother or a military person escorting a fallen hero home to family.

Some laughing, some crying, some simply staring straight ahead – all emotions on display for everyone to see.

All of the Good, Bad, and Ugly

It has often been said that the only dress code for the airport is COMFORTABLE. While this is so true, hundreds of flights have told me that no two travelers define comfortable the same way.  There is always that lady with the perfect nails and makeup that sits next to the supermom trying her best to rock a messy ponytail, too little sleep, and vomit on her shirt.

The guy that just stepped out of GQ magazine is across from the college kid who forgot to shave this morning and ended up with most of his breakfast on his shirt.  Some people are classic chic and some are so comfortable that PJs seem to be the order of the day.

There is one thing that most of these people have in common – the experience of travel. It seems perfectly normal to hold a baby for the person next to you or take your shoes off with a smile at the airport. You can offer a kid a stick of gum without anyone blinking an eye and laugh at an old man who tells you that “you young people today do not know what hard means…” as he launches off into a discussion the “good ole days.”

Suffering the Slings and Arrows of Life

Have you ever been seated next to that person who wants to talk? Yeah…everyone has!  People strike up odd conversations in airports and spill their entire lives like their seat on the airplane was a psychologist sofa.  The thing that makes it even odder is how reasonable it seems to share your entire life with someone you will never meet again once you leave the plane.

All of the sudden, Delta flight 402 to Dallas is all about groups of people sharing the experience of being human.  Only on a plane can such a dichotomy of people come together to talk like best friends… for a few minutes… and then go on their way.

Recently, on a flight to Ireland, the woman next to me confessed that she was petrified to fly and always needed someone to hold her hand.  You guessed it – I ended up holding hands with a complete stranger and whispering to her that everything would be OK.  Because…you know, we are on an airplane and things are different there!

If Only The World Was Like the Airport…

An airport is a place where you see people of all cultures interacting without a moment of hate, anger, or bigotry.  You see strangers speak to children without parents throwing up a protective barrier. You see gay people chatting with ultra-conservative people about their college days without the mention of the religion of baking a cake.  You see a big biker dude named Larry extending a hand to a new Marine to “thank him for his service” as they strike up a conversation about boot camp.

People give up their seat out of respect for military members, cheer on flyers who have won a team tournament, and stand aside for another passenger who had to catch a connector.

You see people of vast political, social, and economic statuses simply interacting together.

Yes….there are real reasons to love the airport!  If only the whole world could be just like an airport, then what a happier, kinder place this planet might be!

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