The culture vulture’s guide to surviving the airportFeature of the week
You’re a culture vulture. You eat up art galleries like they were a three-course meal, and you watch world cinema in the same way a labrador drools over a delicious steak. Literature courses through your veins and the only thing you love more than travelling to a cultural location is life itself.
But there’s always one obstruction between you and the perfect long weekend in Rome or Barcelona or Berlin: the airport. The goddamn airport.
You hate the airport, no matter which location you’re travelling from. You could be simmering in a departure lounge in Gatwick or entering JFK, and the feeling would be the same. That percolating rage that you have to exist in an airport for a few hours.
The reasons for this stress are well-known. You’ve got the endless queues that seem to snake on into infinity, the paranoia that you’ll be randomly fingered as a terrorist, the purgatorial departure lounges that feel as though they were designed by a lobotomy patient, the security staff who seemed to have been trained by a troupe of French waiters, and so on and so on.
If you’re not a bulging barrel of stress by the time you catch your flight, then you’re a rare breed. You’ll be seen as the centre of calm in a crowd full of people, a Hindu cow chewing its cud on a busy Indian highway.
So how do these people manage to stay calm in such a hostile environment? We’ve been mulling that over ourselves, and come up with these tips to help you take their lead.
Get the luxuries
When you’re driving around and around an airport car park, there’s very little that won’t make you bark in frustration. Every spot is taken, people keep driving into vacant spots just ahead of you, and the labyrinthine structure of these car parks is enough to drive a person insane.
But airports are more than aware of this issue, which is why many allow third-party services to provide valet parking for customers willing to spend a little extra.
The Gatwick Meet and Greet, for instance, takes your car from you at your terminal, meaning you don’t have to circle the car park in vain desperation.
Preparation, preparation and preparation are the watchwords of a visit to the airport. When you’re besieged by questions by burly security officials, for instance, it’s always a good idea to know exactly what you’ll be asked.
That’s why many airport websites provide FAQ sheets that will give you a vague approximation of the procedures and best practice operated by flight hubs.
But preparation isn’t just about knowing what to expect. It’s about showing up on time with all the right documentation. If you struggle with the latter, make a checklist that can get you through the ordeal of making sure you’ve got your passport. That way, absentmindedness won’t win out.
If you’ve got any other ideas on how to stay chill at the airport, let us know!
The editorial unit