Why airports are the most annoying thing about travel

"Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry."

The guy is pushing through the security line at the airport, nudging people as he wiggles further towards the front of the queue. "Sorry. Sorry."

Eventually another passenger takes issue with this blatant pushing in and blocks the guy's path, fixes him with a glare and asks him the short, sharp question we've all wanted to ask: "You right mate?"

The guy looks indignant. "My flight's going in 20 minutes! Whaddaya want me to do?"

What do we want you to do? We want you to turn up at the airport two hours early like the rest of us have done. We want you to wait patiently in line like the rest of us are doing. We want you to take your place in the queue behind us and just stay there and not push in. 

But that's not going to happen today. And tomorrow there will be someone else just like this guy, and the day after that there will be someone else. This sort of thing happens at airports all the time. And it's annoying.

Given how much we all love travelling, it's amazing how little we enjoy the actual experience of travel – the getting from A to B. Particularly on planes. Trains might still have charm, and cars at least provide freedom, but it's air travel that really bugs people.

Leave aside, for a second, the time you spend in the aeroplane itself, and there is still no shortage of things to complain about. Just being in an airport is annoying. It's expensive, it's crowded, it's boring and it's uncomfortable. Just being around all of those other people is annoying. 

But it doesn't have to be so bad. The joy or lack thereof in the airport experience is something that falls on all of us. There's not much that can be done about the overpriced food and the bad coffee, but there are other things everyone could do to make the experience better for the rest of us.


For one, turn up on time. Get there two hours before an international flight, and, if you're checking bags in, a good hour before a domestic flight. If you're going with a budget carrier, accept that you're going to be stuck in a queue for a bit longer and get there earlier. 

If everyone turns up on time there's no one pushing through the security queue because someone's flight is about to take off. There's no one jumping the line at check-in because they're about to miss the cut-off. Everyone just shuffles through at the same pace.

Going through a security line? Get ready to take all of your metallic things off. Yes, that bracelet counts. Yes, that watch counts. And the belt. It's amazing the number of people who have to go back and forth through the scanner, bleeping away as they gradually rid themselves of all of their metallic bits and pieces. 

Put your liquids in a plastic bag. Take your aerosol cans out. If everyone's ready for this process, then it's going to go a lot quicker. 

"Qantas is paging John Smith…"

Don't be John Smith. Don't be the guy who checks in, makes sure his luggage has made it onto the plane, and then disappears without a trace. Don't aim to be the last person on board just to cut down your time in the plane. Don't have the airline threaten to offload your luggage if you don't turn up on the next two minutes just to coax you on board. Just get on the plane when you're supposed to, and everybody wins. 

If you're supposed to board by row, then board by row. If families or old people want to get in the line in front of you, let them get in the line in front of you. Be polite. Be kind. 

Don't try to bring ridiculous amounts of hand luggage. You know what you're allowed to carry. Don't hold everyone else up while you try to talk the hostie into letting you on the plane with the contents of a small apartment that you definitely won't be able to squeeze into the overhead lockers.

Don't charge at the baggage carousel when you get to the other side. Don't grab a trolley and ram it up against the belt so that no one else can get to their luggage. Take a couple of steps back and just walk in when your bag appears.

Have your customs form filled out properly. Don't push into the queue. 

And above all, throughout this whole process, throughout your entire travelling life in fact, be polite. Be nice. Be courteous. 

And don't shove your way through a queue.

What's your favourite and least favourite thing about going to an airport?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater

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