Tuesday, June 17, 2003

airports for dummies

I have a serious problem with airports. A typical airport consists of so many obstacles intermixed with hours of sheer boredom thats it turns out to be such a relief to get onto the plane and get the hell away from the earth and its clinging inhabitants. I have nothing against the flying itself, because it has always been a dream of mine to see the earth from the sky. But airports! I rant because when I was returning from india, I got stuck in Jordan for around a day and then further stuck in Rehovot, in the north of israel, due to religious reasons. But this was entirely avoidable. It's just that i was a relative newcomer to airports and i didn't know all the rules of the game, especially in the post 9-11 era. I met Claudia in Rehovot and when I was busy telling her my trials and tribulations, she had just arrived from Colombia with even more horrific tales. She had had to spend a whole day in the airport in Paris (24 hrs, no less). This was entirely unavoidable, but one of the delays was caused by the fact that Israel required that she have a return ticket, and they refused to let her board her flight. These kind of problems can easily be handled if there was a detailed guide to these airports. So I suggest to any smart marketing type out there: the world needs a "airports for dummies" series.
Think of the advantages: you can have a special section for the quirks and oddities of each major airport, a lite edition with only major airports and maybe a special edition with local airports as well.
I can easily think of several suggestions:
1. How to go to the only section of the airport where they have long chairs for sleeping in.
2. How to avoid paying rip off prices in airports.(will somebody explain why the prices shift so dramatically?)
3. How to find safe places for smoking. Its very demeaning that while in Amman airport, the enitre airport is a non smoking zone, but nobody cares anyway, and in Mumbai, one has to hide in the men's room to avoid being persecuted by an overzealous and overawake cop. In Tel-aviv, they have this micro cubicle in the middle of the airport which is filled with smoke so thick, it looks like smog. Smokers, like everyone else, don't want to breathe in second hand smoke. Their own smoke is fine, but why others'?
4. How to anticipate every twist in the passport steeplechase, which of course depends on airport to airport.
5. How to deal with security problems- like Dont wear any metal!!!
6. Always carry a jacket, because, especially in the mideast, status of the transportation vehicle is inversely proportional to the coldness of the AC. Even the squib of an airport bus is infinitely colder than the plane itself.

So this 'airports for dummies' can have a special section devoted to travellers tales that should convince anybody that planes and their ilk are just elaborate torture devices, that humans like to inflict upon themselves. I think that such a book will become as indispensible as lonely planet guide books.