April 26, 2010
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I like airports. I like planes. Given my current situation, this is probably a good thing. But I do, I like them. (Apart from Gatwick. I realise now that last year's post should have been called 'Gatwick makes me angry'. Gatwick is a hellhole.) Airports exist outside normal time, they are suspended outside normal life. Inside an airport, you are in dead space. They are sterile places, they are anonymous. They are perfect for drawing breath.
The airports I've been in so far this trip – yes, even Heathrow (Terminal 1) – have been calm and spacious. Tokyo Narita was virtually empty; it was evening, but even at 6pm the check-in area was devoid of queues. I had my pick of places to eat (ramen, mmm ramen) and sit. Sydney, likewise. Abu Dhabi was literally empty in places – I was the only person going through security and passport control. I accept this is highly unusual, but it's not just the peace. I like looking at websites of airports I'm going to be visiting. I like exploring their nooks and crannies once I get there. I like being on planes (though familiarity with Easyjet has doubtless bred contempt). What's the livery like, the food, the inflight magazine? What's the entertainment like, how does it work and what are they showing? Can I get all my shit into the seatback pocket? Do I get a little cushion? Ooo, I do!
I like flying at night and landing at dawn. This probably comes from a childhood of package holidays, which means charter flights, which means flying at ungodly hours of the night (didn't the holiday companies realise 'family holiday' means 'travelling with children', therefore an 11.30pm flight out of Crete back to Manchester is perhaps not a great idea?) but also often means landing as the sun breaks over the horizon. (Incidentally, if you're airborne during sunrise, I heartily recommend the Beastie Boys as a soundtrack.) I like touching down in that half-light, the sense of the world still being asleep fitting perfectly with that fuzzy-headed feeling after being in the air. (Maybe that's the pressure.) I like the way I tread lightly because it's morning and it's delicate.
I like airports. I really, really like airports.