After 11 months on the road, I no longer love airports.

I used to! At one time they held the romantic promise of adventure, discovery, and transient moments of connection in the flow of people in motion.

For me, these exotic imaginings were represented by the relatively prosaic symbol of the “airport,” which I reliably visited once or twice a year, even if only for short trips.

But after having spent countless hours in airports on three continents so far, sitting in or running through innumerable terminals at all hours of the day and night, I can confidently say that the romance has, uh, faded.

JFK Jetwing
Early morning takeoff from JFK airport in New York, with the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

To vent my frustrations and to avoid the temptation to complain (because this is still a pretty cool thing to be doing!) I turn to humor, making mental jokes to myself to diffuse the tension. Because a bad day in an airport can rapidly devolve into the Worst Day Ever™, if I’m not careful.

So please enjoy this handful of my personal coping mechanisms. I’ve lovingly cultivated them over my trip in response/reaction to the state of air travel today:


It’s so nice that airlines have started landing airplanes in shopping malls. ◊


It’s nicer being required to walk through the mall, rather than straight to where the planes are. Not like we have to be anywhere urgently. ◊

Brisbane airport
Brisbane, Australia’s shopping mall. I mean airport. There’s a plane around here somewhere…


Not to brag, but I have an uncanny ability to select flights whose gates are at the end of the terminal hall, down a flight of stairs, into a well, through a cave, over a rickety bridge, inside the magic wardrobe, past the troll, then onto a bus, which takes me to a plane, that then takes me to my plane. I manage to pull this off even in the smallest rural airports. Which also have a mall. ◊

Avianca Airlines in Colombia goes a bit overboard with the whole “smoke” thing. I kept waiting for a famous DJ to run out of the cockpit.


If “knowing all the essential details about each country’s visa and entry requirements before arriving” were a sport, I would not be an athlete in that sport. ◊


Phoenix from the air
Early morning Phoenix, Arizona, from the air.

Remember, the people sitting in an exit row who are responsible for saving your life in an emergency now pay extra for the privilege. Be sure to thank each one of them personally for their everyday heroism. ◊


Ranked in order of increasing difficulty, it is most challenging to use the toilet in moving:

4) Airplanes
3) Trains
2) Rollercoasters
1) Buses


If there were an Olympics of Grating Personality Traits, flight attendants have shown me that “politely pushy” wins gold over all, including “always late,” “overlong text messages,” and even “lots of cologne.”


I wasn’t sure if evil really existed until someone in front of me reclined their airplane seat back all the way.

Landing at Narita Airport, in Japan
Early morning landing at Narita Airport, in Japan.

Murphy’s Law, Airport Edition: If a gate can be changed, it will be changed. At the last minute, in secret. Getting there will require walking through at least one additional shopping mall.


I don’t know if chemtrails are real. But I am certain that airlines spray a chemical compound in airplane cabins that turns Coca-Cola from a high-fructose-corn-syrup insulin bomb into the sweet nectar of the gods at 35,000 feet.


From my travels in these countries, this is what I have observed airport security scans for most carefully:

USA – terrorist devices, drugs, liquids over 100 milliliters (even though we don’t know what a “milliliter” is), shoes

Australia – anything that the cutest, softest, fuzziest little bunny might consider sharp

Fuzzy bunny
In Australia, this little guy really doesn’t like my snub-nosed grooming scissors! Vewwy scawwy! (source: Google Images)

South America – fruit, drugs

New Zealand – fruit, dirt, dirt… no seriously if you have dirt get out

Indonesia – At the first full security check, fruit. At the second full security check, any drugs your fruit may have been doing. At the third full security check, terrorist devices that your fruit may have constructed while on drugs… but by that point your plane has left and your fruit has spoiled so who cares.

Japan – Except for one incident in 2009 where a man from Sendai accidentally attempted to bring a half-empty lighter through security in his briefcase, touching off a national firestorm, no one has ever brought contraband on board a flight leaving Japan.

EverywhereSamsung Galaxy Note 7


Got a favorite from this list, or your own airport observation? Let me know in the comments! -Will <3

SF from the air
San Francisco, from the air.

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