Why Airports Can Be The Worst

Airports are, in general, awesome. They hold within their walls the promise of adventure and escape. Airports are like magical portals that whisk us away to lands unknown. They are the starting point to fulfilling lifelong dreams of seeing faraway places like (insert exotic destination here). My appreciation for and love of airports has been well documented here. But that doesn’t mean that I’m immune to some of their shortcomings.

While I know that I’m very lucky to have traveled as much as I have, today I’m taking a break from singing the praises of airports. I’m going to indulge my inner snark and delve deep into the little irritations that have me muttering under my breath as I wait for my flight.

My first pet peeve happens before I even make it to my gate. It’s the security line. Well, not the security line, per se. Rather, it’s the other fliers in line who have never flown before (or seen a movie in the last 10-15 years, or researched security procedures before they got to the airport, or in general just seem to be bewildered on how to behave in public). Now, I know some people are nervous fliers, and some folks have never flown before, but there are signs everywhere explaining what to do. And there are staff directing you (take off your shoes, empty your pockets, etc). I understand the pace can be overwhelming, but standing like a motionless lump doesn’t help anyone. When in doubt, look to the seasoned travelers in line ahead of you and follow their lead. They’re the ones with their shoes off, liquids in a clear bag, and a determined look on their face.

The next airport annoyance is a small (but loud) one: the honking carts that shuttle people to their gates. I know the honking is a safety procedure to alert everyone to the presence of the cart, but it’s annoying. And in some airports (I won’t name any names), it feels like the drivers get waay too close to the people walking. I try to be very aware and always immediately move to the side when I hear that unmistakable horn, but I’ve still had some close calls. Maybe my irritation is just jealousy, though, as I gaze after the cart racing past me and I’m left lugging my bags to my gate hundreds of miles in the distance (ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it can feel that far away).

I’ve saved the worst for last: tiny bathroom stalls with doors that open in. Now, I’m sure there’s some logistical reason for this, but when I’m juggling a coat, purse, and even a modest carry-on, I feel like a contortionist trying to open the door and squeeze out of the stall without dropping one of said items into the dangerously close toilet bowl. I usually end up falling out of the stall like a circus clown stumbling out of a clown car. Now, I’m usually lucky enough to have someone with me who can watch my bags, but when I’m traveling solo I dread the pre-flight bathroom visit. I consider it a success if all of my items leave the bathroom the way they entered: dry.

What do you hate about airports? Go ahead and vent, it’ll make you feel better.

Let me know what you think on Twitter @StephSpitler

Image via Shutterstock