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Friday, December 20, 2013

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How to Enjoy the Airport This Holiday Travel Season

I’ve spent somewhere around 200 hours of my life—about eight full days—inside airports. This is not because I am a glamorous jet-setter (I’ve never seen the inside of an airport lounge), but because I enjoy traveling and the cheaper I can do it the longer I can keep going. In order to make early morning flights I’ve spent the night at Heathrow, Newark, Milwaukee, Casablanca, and a handful of other airports. I’ve had looong layovers in Toronto, Seoul, D.C., Frankfurt, and New York that gave me plenty of time to go into the city, but I’ve always opted to save my funds for the trip instead.

Those 200 hours have contained wretched moments (sleeping on a baggage cart, the only non-tiled flat surface I could find in freezing Newark airport, is at the top of that list), and sublime ones (getting an e-mail acceptance to grad school in the Hong Kong airport wins there), but I would describe most of them as pleasant, even pleasurable.

In my everyday life I could be characterized as tightly wound. I don’t relax easily—I’m always fretting over something that is yet to be or thinking of something that should have been done already: a list to be made, a project to start or complete, a friend to check in with, a household item to restock. In the days before a trip preparation weighs on my mind. I’m always reminding myself not to forget this or that, re-considering my pack list, re-checking the departure time. But at some point I have to cross my fingers, check that I have my ID, and head out the door.

Calm starts to wash over me as soon as I enter the terminal. Once I check in and get through security I exhale and open my eyes wide. If I’ve forgotten anything it doesn’t matter now—I’ll deal with it when I can—and perhaps have an adventure trying to find underwear in Houston or deodorant in Bangkok. On the other side of another airport there will be things to do, but for now there is nothing to do and nothing to worry about.

This forced surrender is the thing I love most about airports. You’re trapped, but trapped in a weird mall/portal/way-station that provides plenty to look at and learn from. You’re in-between, in a place of transience, of liminality, and so is everyone else. All you can do is relax and enjoy your sojourn in this cave of glass and steel.

It’s rare that I meet someone who shares my feelings, but every so often I successfully infect someone with my odd airport enthusiasm. With that in mind, I present here my tips and tricks for enjoying the airport. I hope you find something to make your holiday travels just a little easier. 

TIME IN THE AIRPORT = < 1 hour (easy)
Most people would consider a layover of this length ideal – not so short you worry about delays, not so long you get bored. For me, this isn’t nearly enough time to enjoy an airport. My first priority is always to prepare for my coming flight, making sure I’m well-hydrated and carrying adequate provisions. If I have failed to pack sufficient snacks I may spend some time evaluating all the options made possible by our global industrial food system. There’s almost always a local favorite featured alongside the snack-food heavy-hitters. In New Orleans you can get pork rinds, in San Francisco superfoods. My favorite snack is still a ice cream cone from McDonald’s. Even at airport-inflated prices it’s only like $1.29 and there’s something deliciously libertine about licking an ice cream cone while walking around a stale and sterile space.

I always have something to read on the plane but while still in the terminal I enjoy loitering at airport newsstands—one of the last places where print media still thrives. When was the last time you browsed a physical copy of Seventeen? Have you ever leafed through the National Review or Hot Rod? A good newsstand will have a mind-boggling collection of special interest magazines – from architecture to survivalism to bird watching to American history. Niche publications are a fascinating window into minds and lives very unfamiliar, and it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to cultivate a little understanding and empathy for your fellows when you’re about to be sharing air with them for a few hours. This is not to say I don’t think catching up on news about the wee future King of England or carefully studying eight amazing sex tricks that will destroy your man’s penis are not worthy uses of your time.

TIME IN THE AIRPORT = 1-3 hours (intermediate):
This is my sweet spot, especially between two long flights.

I always start by getting the lay of the land—figuring out which terminal is most interesting and what the food and drink options are. As soon as I get off the plane and refill my water bottle I start exploring. If I’m not already in the international terminal I try to get there, for there one can find the fluorescent wonderland that is the duty free store. This is of course useful if you are traveling internationally and want to bring some cheap booze to your friends, but it also provides extensive opportunities for sampling. I once gave myself a full makeover at an airport MAC counter and I always take advantage of the fancy lotions and potions to rehydrate my plane-parched skin.

I don’t recommend overdoing the fragrance sampling if you don’t want to choke your fellow passengers, but DO try one. It took years of experimentation but I finally found a new signature scent this way (thank you Toronto duty free for introducing me to Guerlain’s good-smelling but better-named ‘Insolence’) Stores like the Body Shop provide similar opportunities for sniffing and sampling. At an airport I’ll go into any store, even and especially the sort that wouldn’t normally interest me, or the kind that traffic exclusively in regional history and/or stereotypes. Whenever I travel to the American Southwest I look forward to shops full of turquoise, wolf paintings, and dreamcatchers.

It’s also interesting to see how airports both foreign and domestic make some attempt to project a local or national image, to ‘brand’ their city or nation. I’ve appreciated the playful folksiness of the post-security “recombobulation area” in Milwaukee, the down-home comfort of the Raleigh rocking chairs, and the vision of enlightened Danish modernity in the wood floors and broad couches of Copenhagen. Several airports I would not usually associate with art have amassed large collections and hosted exhibitions as a means of enhancing their city’s civic pride and public reputation. Denver airport in particular is jam-packed with art; even the shuttle tunnels have installations. I like Sacramento airport even better. Not only does a giant rabbit dominate the terminal,

but you get to walk on the coolest carpet I’ve ever seen. If only they sold this at the gift shops.

Small, unassuming airports can have gems too. A few months ago I came across some gorgeous black and white blow-up enlargements of desert animals at the Tucson airport, texting close-up pictures without context to several friends while I waited to board.

Airports are really an ideal place to appreciate art. Unless you’re rushing to catch a plane or stressing about the contraband in your carry-on, you have plenty of time and nothing to worry about. There’s no reason to not wander around expecting to find interesting things. At the Sea-Tac airport in my hometown of Seattle there are little bronze salmon embedded in the floors of Concourse B. It took a friend drawing my attention to it to discover that one of them is carrying a briefcase – now I always look for it.

When I find these secret special things it’s as if I enter a dimension separate from all the people rushing irritably around me and I make the airport mine. Once I’ve enjoyed it to the fullest and stretched my legs I find a place to park until it’s time to board.

TIME IN THE AIRPORT = 3-6 hours (advanced):

Even I do not actively desire 6 hours in an airport, but that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy those hours. I can pass a few enjoying magazines, shops, art, and general exploration, but beyond that I might go in a few different directions.

SOCIAL
I’ve never been much for airport bars, mostly because I was a broke graduate student for the last eight years, but if you have the cash or are willing to drink reallllll slow, you can make lots of friends in a couple of hours. At minimum it’s a good opportunity to test out a new alias/false identity, not that I would know anything about that. I am much more likely to spend my time catching up with old friends or relatives. Airports are hardly private places, but in all but the busiest it isn’t hard to find a quiet corner to have a conversation or send off some texts to tell people you’re thinking about them.

When I want to observe but not necessarily interact the airport is perfect. No matter how close or distant you are from your home, you’ll find plenty of people very different from you: sleek businesswomen, schoolkids, snowbirds, college kids, tech nerds, harried single parents, sports teams, plastic surgery victims, holiday-makers, Europeans, google glass wearers, and attractive people of your preferred sex(es). I like finding a comfortable vantage point from which to observe, imagine background stories, and guess at origins and destinations. This, like many of my airport games, is better if you happen to be traveling with a buddy, but it’s not necessary.

SPIRITUAL
Hours spent surrounded by endless tides of frazzled humanity, noting the various hair products and consumer goods so many of us require to become social beings can induce a yearning for something more profound. Every airport has a non-denominational worship room, and many are worth a visit, if for no other reason than to get some quiet time. It’s rare to run into anyone else in these rooms, but when you do people tend to smile at you with kind eyes, recognizing another wayfarer considering their mortality in an enormous, climate-controlled, heavily secured, globally elite space.

Due to their essential in-between-ness, airports are fine places for reflection, for thinking broadly and deeply about the world and your place in it. Without consciously intending to I sometimes find myself in a terminal taking stock, thinking about my changing life goals, my strengths and weaknesses, and my hopes and fears, or just deciding this will finally be the year I read Infinite Jest. It’s an even better place to look outwards, to consider human hubris and the march of history. I find myself wondering how those kids pulling at loose threads on the industrial carpeting will grow up in this world of pervasive pornographic imagery and potential economic volatility, how their harried mother is leaning in, what their father learned when he learned to ‘be a man.’

CREATIVE
I spent the night at the Indianapolis airport several years back, unwilling to spend $90 on a cab after the last shuttle bus back to my college town had departed. The place was deserted except for the cleaning crew, emboldening me to create of series of Cindy Sherman-style selfies. I don’t recommend climbing the equipment by the light of day, but I do think the airport is a swell place for photographic experimentation.

Less risky options depend on your skillset and your supplies. Sit back and make stuff with a view of the mysterious gesticulations of runway staff and planes taking flight.

You can bring a coloring book and crayons (surprisingly relaxing), yarn and a crochet hook, or that watercolor set your weird cousin gave you last Christmas. I’m a fan of collage, most of which involves lots of tedious work. On one recent layover I took my TSA-approved mini Swiss Army scissors to an in-flight magazine, cutting out letters that took minutes to glue to cardstock at home for simple, cheery postcards.

TIME IN THE AIRPORT = > 6 hours (excessive):
Find a place to sleep, a place to drink, or just an outlet where you can charge your phone and play candy crush. The airport has much to enjoy and appreciate but after a certain point the wonder cannot hold, even for me.

 

Top photo via inkelv1122/flickr.

Erika Kuever prefers trains to planes.



61 Comments / Post A Comment

Olivia2.0

I also love the airport and I totally get the "forced" relaxation thing. I love it! I love that someone else feels like this!

likethestore

This was a fun read although I can't help but be annoyed/tense in airports. And I've certainly never seen any that have cool art. I commend you for sleeping in airports, I can't think of anything that horrifies me more. But I am the sort of person who can't sleep unless I am in a cool dark quiet room with high thread count sheets.

Isabel Bower@facebook

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etc etc

Super approps to read while in the Portland airport on Hour 2 of a 5 hour layover.

Beaks

@etc etc Sadly, if you'd had another hour or two you probably could have had a nice jaunt downtown- the lightrail/ whatever they call it there goes straight from the airport to downtown for not all that much money, although I can't for the life of me remember how long it takes. I feel like the real secret of 6+ hour layovers is getting the heck out of the airport.

sulpicius subuculus

The salmon at Sea-Tac are interspersed with little planes...if you walk along the line, they kind of slowly get more and more plane-like until they're clearly planes, and then the planes get more and more salmon-y till they're clearly salmon. I love Sea-Tac. (Except for the fountains that mimic the sound of a bubbling brook - those annoy me.)

weltanschauung

@sulpicius subuculus As someone who always fills her water bottles after security at Sea-Tac I LOATHE those gurgling fountains.

bowtiesarecool

@sulpicius subuculus The plane-fish! I was in Seattle for the first time for work earlier this year, and I absolutely ground my Important Business Group to a halt so I could gawk at the floor and take pictures of the fish. I think Sea-Tac smells kind of funny (like it's actually heated by a giant woodstove?), but I really like the floor salmon!

blueblazes

@sulpicius subuculus Sea-Tac also has one of the more interesting food courts, especially when compared to the midwestern airports of my youth.

you're a kitty!

I always felt super-stressed in airports, and after a lot of travel I realized that there were a few things causing it: one was noise, so noise-canceling headphones help in the terminal, and the other was unwieldy bags that I had to drag around and that kept falling off my arms. In the end I started traveling with an empty carry-on when I could, which I would end up filling with the inevitable odds and ends (and my purse) when I was in the terminal. Those purses with the strap on the back to loop around a rolling suitcase are great, too.

And, of course, things got less stressful once I realized you can drink in airports.

katekari

@you're a kitty! Oh gods, the noise canceling earphones! So expensive, but so very necessary. I recently got a position that requires a lot of travel; fortunately it also pays enough that I could reasonably acquire noise canceling headphones, well-designed luggage, and airpot booze. Life-savers, all.

katekari

I hate going through security, and I hate being on a plane (not a phobia, just a profound sense of the injustice and dehumanizing nature of modern air travel). But I too looooooooove spending time in airports, before flights and during layovers.

Because I am an adult who makes grownup money these days, I always make a beeline for the nicest-looking bar, overpriced drinks notwithstanding. There's one bar in a hub airport I often find myself in for layovers -- it is the perfect spot for people-watching, since it has seats facing a big hallway through the terminal. I love sitting with a big glass of wine and the (free!) nuts they provide, and watching everyone walk by, observing people's choices of carry-on luggage and travel fashion.

My favourite airport so far is Singpaore's Changi airport. They have koi ponds! And a butterfly garden!

weltanschauung

@katekari I am going to aim for a Singapore layover the next time I go to Asia. A butterfly garden! How marvelously surreal.

Lucienne

I like hanging out in airports because it's filled with people I don't have to interact with, which I think is great. There's zero interpersonal pressure!

Dirty Hands

As someone who visits airports just to hang out, I wholly approve of this article.

Stacy H@twitter

I'm ok with most air travel grievances, but I hate that I have to lug around my carry-on (which is usually pretty big as I never check) and I always have to use the bathroom like a million times and maneuver the carry-on in and out. (It has become easier since I have the Patagonia MLC backpack - best ever - but I just have to watch out not to drop pieces in the toilet. Also, still a schlep.) I wish I could pre-check it at the gate for them to hold until I get on the plane.

Also, more airports need wifi. Khartoum had wifi over two years ago. Heathrow just got it. Gatwick doesn't have. JFK & LGW don't. ATL doesn't. Khartoum, why are you the leader in this???

daisicles

@Stacy H@twitter Lugging my carry-on into the bathroom is one of my peeves too. I don't know what it is about airports and needing the bathroom, but I always have to make multiple trips and I always have to deal with the stupid carry-on. It drives me nuts. I don't know that I'd want to *keep* my bag checked at the gate because I'm forever in and out of it during the times when I'm not dragging it up and down the concourse, but it'd be awfully nice if I could just put it somewhere for five minutes while I ran to the bathroom.

George Templeton Strong

You don't smoke.

BattyRabbit

@George Templeton Strong When I was at the Atlanta airport recently I realized that they still have smoking lounges. I was very surprised.

hoo:ha

My boyfriend and I had to turn up very early (without having had breakfast) to Saigon airport and while he sat there starving to death I explored. When I got back I told him there was a Pret a Manger around the corner... I have never seen relief and glee spread across someone's face so intensely. He said 'REALLY?!?!?!' and I said 'No. But you can buy frozen snake.'

hollysh

I'm so thrilled you mentioned the recombobulation area at Mitchell International Airpot in Milwaukee! It's my home base. On a recent long wait for a flight, I perused the Mitchell Aviation Museum, which is really just a small room in C concourse. It showcases memorabilia of significant Wisconsin pilots, including Major Dick Bong, after whom the snigger-inducing Bong Recreation Center off of I-94 is named.

George Templeton Strong

@hollysh Oh please tell me that the full name is the Dick Bong Recreation Center. And let me know if they're hiring. I'd move to Milwaukee for that.

weltanschauung

@hollysh I remember the aviation museum but I can't believe I don't remember Major Dick Bong! Another Milwaukee highlight -- it's such a cheery, friendly airport in general.

truelove

i love this & relate. love exploring all the different terminals, the secretly excellent restaurants & drinks (this (this amazing fish place in atlantaaaa! root down in denver!) & peaceful corners.
for more than 7 hours though i'd say explore the city. i've had 12 hour layovers in Rome, Brussels, Dublin & Amsterdam & treasure my mini adventures there in old streets, parks, museums, bars, churches. I also had one in Paris (the 7 hour one), but got obscenely overwhelmed in the Louvre, had to sit for a while, got on the wrong train (B1 or B2, just really fucked it up) and they wouldn't let me on the plane. So. Don't do that. Maybe 8+ hours is the way to go. But go!

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chickpeas akimbo

I travel regularly for my job (and also for fun) -- I'm not one of those weekly travel people but I have spent a fair amount of time in airports. If would add the following tips for folks NOT on a strict budget:
1.) ONE drink, always POST-security. Do not go through TSA after having a beer, because you will be nervous about the TSA finding out you had a beer and it's awful and terrible. Think of this drink as your reward for getting through security.
2.) If you have a long layover, you may, at your discretion, increase your one drink to one drink per hour of layover time, up to whatever your limit is for drinks at a professional/work event. (For me that's around 2-3, YMMV.)
3.) Your drinks should be wine or spirits, not beer. If you drink more than one beer in the airport, you WILL have to pee, urgently, as soon as the fasten seatbelts sign blinks on for takeoff. Ask me how I know this.
4.) Go get a massage from those strange airport spa things. I've never been sold on the idea of an airport manicure (seems like it would just immediately smudge, yes?), but if that's your thing, do it. But the massage is nice, especially as a sort of kick-off treat if you're going on vacation.
5.) Does the airport monorail run in a circle? (DFW has a particularly nice big one.) Ride it around for awhile, get off at a random terminal, check out the restaurants, whatever.
6.) Ask the airline employees (in a non-chaotic moment!) what the best restaurant in the terminal is. They'll know, and the answer might surprise you.
7.) Talk to people! I'm not really a social person -- I regularly go to my neighborhood bar with a book -- but airport bars are a strange in-between sort of space, and you'll meet interesting people with interesting stories. Always sit at the bar, not a table, if it's an option, so even if there's no one else around you can chat with the bartender.
8.) Airplane air is dry, so go sample every moisturizer at the duty-free/Body Shop/whatever.
9.) If you are flying wholly within the US and you have to have a long layover, DFW, Salt Lake, Houston, and Philly are all good choices with plenty of food and stuff to keep you entertained (just remember that in PA you can't get a alcoholic beverage until I think 11:30AM which sucks if you've just gotten off the red-eye.) JFK is better than LGA if you're changing in New York. There's a whole freaking bookstore in Milwaukee, though it's outside security. I have never had a bad experience in a west coast airport (San Diego, SFO, PDX, Seattle) though generally those airports are my final destination. I would avoid Chicago altogether, and it might be just me but I always have bad luck with Atlanta.
10.) You are smarter than you think you are, and whatever problem comes up, you'll figure it out. (But always carry tampons. Always.)

you're a kitty!

@chickpeas akimbo Detroit's a great airport. but Philly I can't stand — which is mainly because I'm vegetarian and their vegetarian food options are TERRIBLE.

chickpeas akimbo

@you're a kitty! yep, Philly is tough for vegetarians (I am also) though not as bad as LGA, which is awful. The Vino Volo has a bunch of appetizer/small plates/bar snacks that are pretty good, though that gets pricey pretty quick. And, surprisingly, the Legal Seafoods (? I think? One of those big seafood chains) does an excellent breakfast veggie omelet, if you're there in the morning. Other than that, yeah, everything is pretty reliably mediocre. Au Bon Pain mac and cheese is usually the best bet, in my opinion. (I fly through Philly A LOT.)

closetalker11

@chickpeas akimbo YES!! I love love love the Philly airport, and I often feel like I'm the only one. There are tons of interesting food options and bars (not a veggie, so YMMV on that one), and there's an ENTIRE MALL inside. This includes Afaze, which will sell you cheap, ridiculous and wonderful jewelry, sandals and maxi dresses. I love that place.

ATL has plenty to do and tons of food, but is often so chaotic and so HOT that I have a hard time there. JFK can be awesome, but that depends on your terminal. But I really love Charlotte. Rocking chairs, tons of food, things to look at, nice people.

chickpeas akimbo

@closetalker11 you know, the last time I passed through ATL, I thought it seemed really hot, but I thought it was just because I was running for my gate. Good to know it's not just me, I guess?

blueblazes

@chickpeas akimbo I had a terrible experience in SFO trying to make a very quick connection during their "everything is under construction but we have no helpful signs" phase.

Similarly in Atlanta and Denver, both of which at least put me in a hotel overnight so I could get get bumped onto flights on Christmas Day and New Years Day, respectively, thus missing both sets of family events that year.

Salt Lake is my favorite airport.

you're a kitty!

@chickpeas akimbo I recently flew into the Virgin America terminal at SFO — which is brand new and ridiculously posh. Bizarrely posh. It has a yoga studio.

cmeggles

@chickpeas akimbo "You are smarter than you think you are, and whatever problem comes up, you'll figure it out." - most important lesson travel has taught me! Love the rest of your list, too.

weltanschauung

@you're a kitty! aHA! That's where the yoga studio is! I had heard things...

JillPhill

Flying to Sacramento tomorrow! Cannot wait to see that bunny and the floor to ceiling suitcase towers at baggage claim--my favorite airport art!

weltanschauung

@JillPhill That airport really is surprisingly awesome. And the art museum in town? And that golden bridge? I like Sacramento.

Bittersweet

@JillPhill I flew to Sacramento for the first time (on business) a few weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised. The giant rabbit is amazing - I can't be the only one who surreptitiously looked up on the up escalator to see if it was a boy or a girl.

cuminafterall

Heaven is a longish layover in Vienna right before Christmas: you can take a train from the airport to the high street and do a little shopping, eat a delicious Viennese pastry and sip a hot chocolate.

Hell is a layover of any length, at any time, in Manchester, England, where transfers are a torturous maze of Kafkaesque lines through corridors with scuffed walls leading to a man who-- no joke-- has to check one printed-out list against another printed-out list in order to let you proceed. Also, they advertise having spent £10 Million improving the cleanliness of their toilets, but the toilets are still awful. And they have slot machines which might have been fun if the whole airport wasn't so chaotic and sad and terrible.

Closer to home, BWI Terminal A/B has some surprisingly solid vegetarian food options and I always go in the Brooks Brothers store there to touch the hems of the garments of the 1%. The groovy old terminal at DCA is fun, and one of their other terminals has a California Tortilla. Dulles is beautiful on the outside but just okay inside, I think. ISP is awful, there is nothing good to do and nothing good to eat, woe betide you if your flight out of ISP is delayed. That's it, that's all I know.

weltanschauung

@cuminafterall CLASS WARFARE VIA TOUCHING THE HEMS OF THE 1%!

279th District Court

I have to jump down to say that this is EXACTLY how I feel about airports! I thought I was alone! Yay! Now back to reading tips.

279th District Court

I also love all the ways they try to personalize airports. My all-time winner is the Rochester Airport out of upstate New York, although I've only been once for a friend's wedding. However, because I spotted a minor celebrity on whom I had (have) a crush, I and the rest of my traveling party have seen the ENTIRE THING. Some bits twice. On the way to finding him (sitting right by our gate, of course), we saw a military return with full brass-band fanfare, a statue equivalent of a dancing music box with all the different cultures considered worthy by Rochester, New York, and a book store full of all leather bound books which I can't believe is still in business.

I had the earliest flight of my group, and it was ironic that I was the one who wanted to stay.

weltanschauung

@279th District Court WHOOOOO?

amesville

@279th District Court I bet I know who the minor celeb was - Bill Pullman?

Apocalypstick

A couple of hours is barely enough to properly enjoy Amsterdam Schipol Airport, which is beautiful and amazing. It contains all the shops you could possibly want and quite a few you never conceived of while being nicely airy, the whimsical decoration is quite confusing to a sleep-deprived mind, and the staff ride around on segways, which is still new and charming to me.

weltanschauung

@Apocalypstick SWEET. I have a 3 hour layover there in the morning (flying home to Seattle from Copenhagen) and have no memory of the airport. Thanks!

Tragically Ludicrous

@Apocalypstick Schiphol's my favorite airport, and it's also one I spend a lot of time in because I'm an American Dutch resident who has to travel a lot for work. But it's a great airport! There's a little branch of the Rijksmuseum! There's poffertjes! There are multiple areas to spend time in! The (overpriced, but it is an airport) packaged cheese sandwiches from the smaller kiosks are great! Also, while this isn't really a thing for layovers, for people who live in/visit the Netherlands, transport to and from the airport is the best I've ever encountered. Once you exit the baggage claim you're in a regular train station with regular-priced connections to everywhere in the country- no leaving the building, no "special" express trains, no damn busses to get to a place to get a train. Also in the train-station area there's a grocery store & drugstore & food so you can stock up on stuff before going home. Schiphol! I can't say enough about it.

Weltanschauung- if you can, go to the Holland Pavilion area and get poffertjes. They're tiny pancakes served with butter and sugar. Worth it! There's also the genever bar around there although I haven't been to that yet, and the mini-Rijksmuseum is there too.

Apocalypstick

@Tragically Ludicrous Poffertjes, oh poffertjes of my life <3

Faintly Macabre

You are awesome and I also love time in airports. The last time I was in an airport, it was a layover in Lisbon while moving home from Europe. I had slept approximately 1 hour the night, which entitled me to some weird Portuguese chocolate milk and pastries, and ended up having a long talk with a guy who'd spent half his life in Canada. The setting (I've never been anywhere in Portugal but the airport) and my exhaustion made for a surreal experience.

Also, I only allow myself to buy fashion/beauty magazines when I fly somewhere, so I always look forward to my little indulgence.

(However, Charles de Gaulle Airport is my eternal nemesis. I'd almost rather walk to/from France than have to enter it.)

maxmarvel

I treat layovers like I'm having a spa day. Get a nice massage at ExpressSpa, eat a huge salad from French Meadow, stroll around while listening to music, drink all the water. It's amazing how much easier travel is when you're relaxed, hydrated, and not trying to digest something from Chili's.

Mary Ellen Kirkendall@facebook

I enjoy airport time too, but only if I am traveling alone. The Little Woman clearly feels like airport time is perfect forced togetherness time which should be spent in constant conversation. I like to be around people I don't have to interact with. We have violently different agendas. Love the Atlanta airport, hate St. Louis.

BattyRabbit

@Mary Ellen Kirkendall@facebook Atlanta airport is my favoriiiiite <3 The gates go IN ORDER! It's amazing!

katycruel

Please don't wear any kind or amount of perfume on a plane. You're probably causing someone a migraine. True story.

Otherwise, these are all great tips!

amesville

I am a super fan of airports, but sadly my flights these days have really short layovers - or they're long layovers in boring airports like Pittsburgh. There is NOTHING in the Pitts airport. McDonald's, a couple of shops, and no outlets.

My tips:
* noise-cancelling headphones. I got $50 Sonys at some airport store and they are the BEST.
* If I'm doing a carryon for luggage, it HAS to have wheels. My pocketbook is as light as I can get it: the Paperwhite, sock yarn and needles, bottle of water, chapstick, phone, and wallet. That's all I need for a flight of any length, and even the water is optional. There's water on every flight, I don't need to bring my own, really.
* I camp out at the gate a good 40 minutes before my flight, so I don't have to worry about missing my boarding. Depending on who I'm flying that day, I'm either one of the first to board, or one of the last (there seems to be no middle ground here!), but either way, I want to be close.
* People-watching! I let my inner storyteller fly, or some days, my inner judgmental bitch, depending.
* I dress comfortably, but I still look decent. No sweatpants/ pajama bottoms, my hair is brushed, and the little makeup I wear is on. I feel better when I look presentable, which impacts my overall ability to roll with the various bumps that come my way. Also, seriously people. Wear actual clothes to the airport!
* regardless of who I fly, I hang at a Delta gate when possible. They often have multiple power jacks on stands in the seating area. !! (I don't fly Delta, my flights change too much for their $250 change fee.)

carlos_pur

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Φωτιστικά

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φωτιστικά

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Origenes

los aeropuertos son como camaras de tortura, cuando hay retrasos y lo que mas desorienta es la desinformación

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