The traveler is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep. – Margaret Mead

I spent some time at the airport today. No, I wasn’t going anywhere, nor was I arriving from a far-off destination. On one hand I was meeting my roomie as she returned from a long weekend in Paris, but if that was the only reason, I wouldn’t have stayed for 3.5hours.

There is something about the airport that just draws me in. Part of the appeal is that it’s the only place in Denmark to indulge in my love of fancy coffee drinks ala Starbucks (though they don’t do specials like Pumpkin Spice Lattes or salted caramel hot chocolate), but at roughly $10 for a grande mocha, it’s not a place I could afford to frequent often. Most of the appeal isn’t just with the Copenhagen airport, it’s with airports world-wide. So I’ve come up with a little list as to why I love spending time at airports, even when I’m not going anywhere.

1. Emotion: I think the airport is one of very few places where people are truly open with their emotions. Where else can you see such a mix of people who are happy, sad, worried, relieved..? The Starbucks where I sat is located in the arrivals hall, so a majority of the people around me were waiting for loved ones to return from vacation, from business, from school, from… They weren’t embarrassed to hide their happy tears, pouncing on loved ones as soon as they exited customs areas. So often in everyday life people walk around with a mask, especially here in Denmark, so I find it a welcome relief to read the open emotion of the faces of those I encounter at the airport.

2.) Fast pace: Everyone (except me) is going somewhere and they want to get there now. I don’t like to leave things last minute at the airport, instead I prefer to watch the hustle and bustle around me. It’s kind of like watching people last minute Christmas shop the day before Christmas (hi dad) while you sit around and drink hot chocolate.

3.) Mix of language: Airports are so international, and if anything fascinates me, it’s the sound of foreign languages. It’s kind of like spoken poetry… only I don’t usually know the topic.

4.) The fact that it’s never the same: It doesn’t matter the time of day or day of the week, an experience at the airport will never be the same. Always something new to see, hear, do.

A few things I’m not a fan of…

1.) They tend to be pricey: Never mind that you had to break the bank to afford your plane ticket, they know you can’t go anywhere else (esp. once you’ve checked in) and charge accordingly.

2.) Customer Service: With the exception of maybe business travelers who get to know baristas at their favorite coffee stand, you won’t likely be served by the same person when you go through the airport. I think this has a bit of an effect on customer service. Rather than being friendly, I’ve often felt as though I’m rushed through my purchase and herded on my flight. On the other hand, I’m sure airport workers have dealt with their fair share of unruly passengers – and that must suck.
What I have learned from the airport:

1.) Small things = big difference.
– Sometimes letting someone ahead of you is an easy way to make someones day.
2.) Someone is always in a bigger hurry than you.
3.) Customs officers (usually) don’t have a sense of humor.
4.) Having a sense of humor can usually make it easier (even if you have to keep it to yourself).
5.) Sometimes a $10 mocha is worth it.

 

2 thoughts on “The traveler is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep. – Margaret Mead

  1. Bertilak

    I’ve always loved airports – like you I come from an international family, so they’ve been part of my life since before I can remember…
    I agree with every word you’ve written – and would add to the first of your lists: destination boards.
    When I was small, my father would take me on long walks through airport concourses (no doubt to run off some of my energy before we boarded long flights) and point to the destinations and tell me (or show me on those large world maps that used to be ubiquitous on airport walls before they became dominated by advertising) in which countries those cities were to be found. He’d been to many of the places himself and would tell me about them. Even now, 30-odd years on, I still look at the boards and plan and dream of future travels…

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