The Joys of Airports and the Woe of ATS

Dubai Travel Blog

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Travelling brings out the best, and worst, in people. Travelling can be fun, full of adventure, exotic sounds and food, meeting new people, trying out new languages, making new friends. But there is a definite downside to air travel and that is airports. Don't get me wrong; I'm one of those odd people who love airports. My love for airports has led me to visit them just for fun. That's right, I've been known to go to airports not to collect anyone, or farewell a friend, but just to hang out. Maybe I have a sickness? Perhaps I should look at self-help groups "Hello, my name is Saskia, and I'm an airport junkie".

But this blog is not about my fascination with the buildings but more of what I am interested in - the behaviour that is associated with travel. I am interested in how seemingly 'normal' people display signs of 'weirdness' and conduct themselves into actions, which they would usually consider 'abnormal'. I like to call this the "Airport Travel Syndrome" or ATS.

ATS is a condition that can come out at anytime and afflicts all members of the travelling community. It is an inclusive syndrome as it can be seen in either gender, any ethnicity and age is irrelevant. The main symptoms of ATS are anger, looking bored and the inability to small talk. Airports are the perfect breeding ground for the anti-social behaviour associated with ATS. Just on my last flight from Sydney to Dubai, airport security had to be called to deal with a young woman who was adamant she was going to board the flight drunk. The security staff were adamant she wasn't. Although everyone at the gate turned to look (think of the queues you get when a road accident occurs), straight after the event occurred, everything returned to normal. People resumed listening to their iPod's, some were texting, many continued reading, but there was definitely no discussion between strangers of the event that occurred. And you can forget about smiling. Everyone sitting at that gate seemed to think they were on the London Tube where it was not proper etiquette to smile or make eye contact with strangers as this may lead having a conversation.

Not that those people at the gate can take all of the blame. I think the whole terrorist attacks have taken out some of the fun at airports as you rarely hear strangers talking, or see them smiling.  Now it is a case of everyone walking around in their own bubble, focussing on their own plans, looking suspiciously at others who they consider a threat, or who 'look a certain way'.  However, as I have a 9 hour transit in Dubai before my flight to Cairo, chatting with strangers would be one way for me to starve off the boredom but obviously I'm coming across as too eager, too smiley and therefore that is why they don't want to befriend me. Damm my ability to smile after a 20-hour flight from Auckland!

Bathrooms are another place where odd behaviour manifests itself. I can only speak about experiences in the woman's bathrooms, but what I have seen in there is strange.


Imagine there are four toilets on either side, which are in use, and a queue of 13 women waiting to use them. There are also women washing their hands, some are applying makeup, others brushing their teeth. So by my calculations there is a room of 28 women, and there is complete silence. Unnerving silence. Only the running water provides any noise. This awkwardness is further heightened when the women, who have finished using the toilets, want to wash their hands so rather than asking the strangers, who are only using the mirrors, to move slightly so they could use the basins, these women just stand there an wait. In limbo. Unable to leave, but unable to move anywhere else. Just like me. In limbo. Unable to depart for another 8.5 hours, and unable to leave the airport.


So now maybe I should try and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to me ... she seems nice and maybe she wouldn't mind it if I wake her up?  That wouldn't be weird would it?

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cygnus16 says:
Hanging out at airports? And I thought I was the only one who does that.
Posted on: Jun 14, 2011
homeres says:
i have been in a airport besides flying only once and that was to have lunch with a friend while i was driving through indianapolis, of course he worked at that airport!
Posted on: Oct 28, 2010
Saskia007 says:
I like Vance - very witty, just wish I thought of it myself. :)
Thanks for the smile and comment
Posted on: May 21, 2010
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photo by: vances