Airport commandments

The Five Airport Commandments

What is it about an airport that makes travellers leave their brains at the front door? Travel stress, perhaps, fear of flying or maybe they simply decided their logical brain processes needed a well-deserved break too? Whatever the reason, some passengers transform into inconsiderate sociopaths before they even hit the check-in desk. Unfortunately, for the rest of us who just want to get from A to B without fuss, this behaviour does little to improve an already stressful travel experience. What makes it all the more frustrating is that it could be avoidable, if only everyone followed the same rules.

And so, with the dream of a peaceful coexistence for one and all, here are our Five Airport Commandments:

Thou Shalt Not Get Drunk

Ok, that’s a buzzkill right from the start, so maybe it should read ‘don’t get too drunk’. After all, for many people the airport itself marks the beginning of their trip. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate escaping the soul-destroying monotony of work with a cold glass of their favourite poison? The problem is that it is easy for that cold glass to turn into two, then three, then “what time was our flight again?” Meanwhile, there’s a planeload of people looking at a minimum 20 minute delay while ground crews hunt for the no-show’s bags. On the flip-side, let’s say you have a few drinks but can still focus enough on the clock to make it to the gate in time. As expensive inflight diversions are often due to drunk passengers, airline staff will offload anyone they suspect may have had too much. Showing up stinking of beer and wearing half an airport burger down the front of your shirt is not the best way to run this gauntlet. Once collared, that’s the ballgame. Coming clean about drinking will result in being immediately offloaded. Denial and debate will be taken as a display of aggression with the same result, only this time it’ll be the police doing the offloading.

Thou Shalt Not Try To Be Funny

Airport rules and regulations can be confounding and seem ridiculous to a reasonable person. Banning tweezers, nail scissors and hair gel from a cabin where passengers have access to glass, metal cutlery and vodka appears to be an huge waste of time. However, the important thing to remember here is that the vast majority of minions who enforce said rules and regulations DO NOT feel that way. Unless a TSA agent has reached for the lube and rubber gloves, the best reaction to any situation, no matter how humiliating, is one of stoical silence. Even if you think you are the funniest person on the planet, do not try to make a joke. Airport security staff are legendary for their lack of a sense of humour, and any throwaway comment about lethal sunscreen or exploding underpants will just land you in a jail cell.

Thou Shalt Not Get Angry

It may be easy to believe that airport staff attend psychological warfare classes as part of their induction training. The ability to provoke angry reactions from normally placid human beings is just too good to be pure coincidence. Check-in agents bent on seating families apart, security checkpoints with the apparent aim of humiliating as many passengers as possible, and gate staff who insist on hold-loading a briefcase because you have a sandwich in the other hand. Don’t you get an underlying feeling that it’s all being done on purpose? A natural reaction to such feelings of frustration and helplessness is to lose one’s temper. Before screaming at the nearest TSA agent, though, just answer this question: exactly how many of the above situations have ever been resolved by a raised voice?

Thou Shalt Not Jump The Gate Queue

We’re all familiar with the slow motion dance that begins when the first gate agent arrives. Passengers hover around the desk, trying to look like they’re not queueing whilst staying as close by as possible. Soon, others join in and it isn’t long before the first passenger finds themselves at the desk itself. From that point, there’s no more pretence and a line forms as if someone flicked a switch. It’s a pain for people trying to walk past. It’s especially annoying for those who don’t speak the local language and end up standing in line needlessly because they think they’ve missed the boarding announcement. However, it is what it is – a queue. Once boarding commences, there’s nothing more annoying than those pretending to be invisible as they sidle towards the front or, even worse, pretend the line of fifty people is invisible and start one of their own.

Thou Shalt Not Subject Others To Candy Crush

There’s no denying that tablets and smartphones have improved the flying experience immeasurably. Having said that, just because you can stave off boredom with the latest technology, there’s absolutely no need to disturb others with the constant jingle jangle of sound effects and random shrieks and shouts of YouTube videos. Use headphones, mute it, or just don’t play. And if you are a parent using an electronic nanny to keep your child quiet, sorry, but the same applies. If they’re not happy with that arrangement, try saying no for once.

Jack Leonard

Jack Leonard is a 747 captain with over 20 years of airline experience. Living in France, based in the UK and operating around the world, he has seen his fair share of airports as both flight crew and passenger. He's not sure which is worse.

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