Ever missed your flight? Ever been on stand by? Ever had a long transit time? Ever had to stay in the airport for many hours for whatever reason it may be? Well I have … As a child and as an adult. Totally different experience though. There is a whole lot more you deal with as an adult. When you are a child, you just follow. All that is important for you is to know: “when are we getting on the plane? What am I gonna eat? Where am I gonna sleep and I’m bored I need entertainment” … doesn’t matter anything else. That’s for your parents to deal with. Now as an adult, it’s a whole new ball game. Whether you are traveling alone, with someone, or with kids; each has its own challenges. And even though the scenarios differ and the people differ, some things are common when it comes to being stuck in the airport for too long. And at times you start to feel like a refugee.
Even though, a true refugee is usually running away from their country as their life is in danger. And it is a serious situation, not to be joked about. But I found some similarities that made me feel some of what a refugee would go through but in a much safer and less dangerous environment. Bare with me as I explain the similarities..
Being stuck at the airport for many hours is just like: someone with no home, constantly moving around, having to adjust to your surroundings several times, having to learn how to survive over and over again, getting used to the situation, dealing with your emotions, overcoming the fears from what’s to come, taking it step by step as each moment is unpredictable, getting in contact with people you never thought you would meet, being put in situations you never thought you would encounter, having to depend on your instincts more often, learning a lot about patience cause waiting is all you can do, being alert and vigilant more than the usual, learning to have eyes at the back of your head, and above all learning to control your temper and practice self control.
It is true that tough situations show the true character of an individual. Not every one has tough skin, some are medium well, medium rare, even down to being raw! The good news is your tolerance may increase during the tried times.
So back to feeling like a refugee. Here is why it feels that way. For starters you do not know your gate number yet, so you just need to find any gate area where you can try to rest, maybe get some sleep if you have been pushed to your limit with sleep. But you need also a quiet area where traffic is not constantly going through. So you go, find a spot, two seats together, you can finally lay down, put your eyeshades on cause it’s bright as hell and some ear plugs if you are sensitive to noise. And you just about to go into sleep when some kid shows up unannounced and makes noise like it’s his last chance for speaking, screaming, laughing and banging .. You name it. You try to ignore it and think either he will calm down eventually, or maybe his mother will decide to be a parent for a change and discipline the kid and make him quieter. And wishful thinking their boarding time is coming up soon and it will all be calm again. Like that is not enough, everyone gets kicked out of this area by a staff member as it will now be used for a departing flight. Apparently 99% of people laying around there are all in the same boat. They have no where to go and they need to sleep. So you go searching for another spot and the cycle continues. And if it’s not a kid, it’s someone whose ringtone is loud and it rings forever until it is picked up, or someone that is just loud by nature and can’t whisper, or someone who has a very coarse voice and decides to talk for a long time, and my pet peeve; people that has no consideration whatsoever for others and decide to talk and laugh like they are blind to all the bodies around them trying to sleep. There are just many different possibilities here. And some people need to be taught some manners; just saying!
It is inevitable you will get hungry and thirsty too. If you were smart and brought some snacks with you, then good for you. You just saved a lot of money. But you have no choice but to buy some water at some point. As you know, you will not get passed security with a bottle of water, so you are forced to pay triple and at times quadruple the normal price. But what to do? Dehydrate yourself?? And what if you really need a tea or a coffee and you smell something freshly baked and you wanna eat something. You will pay so much on so little and a lot of times, the quality of food isn’t that great, but again; what choice do you have.
Finally you eat, you drink, you walk around a bit to waste some time, you scout for a new spot, somewhere where you can enter without being asked to show your boarding pass. And so there it is, the spot you been looking for. You take position, enjoying the peace and quiet till it lasts, anticipating anything to happen at any moment. You grab on to your personal belongings while you lay down to sleep, you close your eyes, and you get some well deserved rest.
During your awake time however, you find yourself talking to strangers about nothing really. Then they go their way and wish you good luck while you do the same. Then you get approached by some drunk head, and somehow you find your way out of that situation without harm. At some point a kid will be playing around and come close to you because you smiled at him. Or a baby that just can’t seem to take their eyes of you and again you find yourself waving to the baby, throwing kisses, making faces, until at some point you make conversations with the mother. A lot more scenarios can happen. You would be surprised what you will encounter during your waiting hours for your flight at the gates.
At some point you will have to get up and look if your gate has been assigned, then there is a mission to go find that gate and it all depends on how big or small the airport is and the language barrier if any. Usually, you get both. Good luck. Don’t loose hope. You will get there eventually. The moment you stand in that line for boarding, you show your ticket, you walk down the air bridge, you enter the plane, you find your seat, you finally sit down in your own seat, about to leave this airport where it felt you spent half your life there. You thank God it’s finally over. You look up and there is a really “healthy” passenger about to sit in the seat next to you, so you smile, meanwhile, inside your head, you are saying, “shoot me now”. Have fun traveling everyone!!! Hope you never have to go through this. Safe travels!!