You’re tired: you got up at 3am for a 6am flight. Your head says ‘must… stay… awake’, your body is saying ‘float me down the lazy river, I’m off to curl up with a large camomile tea’, but whatever you do, don’t give in. One minute you’ll be thinking ‘I’ll just catch 40 winks’, the next, you’ve missed your flight and your carry on seems to have run off.
2. Get drunk
"I’m just getting in the holiday spirit!" Tempting as it is to rid yourself of those pre-flight jitters, it is wise to exercise restraint in the alcohol department until arrival at your destination. As well as the need to keep a clear head to deal with last-minute gate changes and the possible operation of emergency exit doors, it is inevitable that you’ll be busting for the restroom and won’t be able to go until you’ve reached cruising altitude.
3. Be a ‘gate lurker’
You know the type. Resist the almost irrepressible urge to hang around the gate waiting for your flight to be called, like it’s some twisted game of musical chairs. ‘Flight 243 to Barcelona is now b…’ and the line already stretches all the way back to security. This might be tough, even in our brave new world of ‘allocated seating’ – you’ve still got to get on that plane soon as possible to get your bag in the overhead lockers. But try to be patient, nonetheless.
4. Lose your temper
The airport experience offers many opportunities to lose your head, but even though it’s socially acceptable to drink six beers before midday in an airport (see tip #2), the rules of social decency are not entirely suspended. Thus, nothing gives you the right to give any member of airport staff a hard time. Delayed flights, lack of charging stations, overpriced snack foods and long security lines are a nuisance, but keep in mind it’s not their fault, so don’t take it out on them.
5. Flirt with the check-in staff
You don’t normally try out your favorite pick-up lines on your colleagues at 7am (or maybe you do?) so don’t think that just because Sonja on the check-in desk smiles at you, it is an invitation to bat your eyes at her. All Sonja wants is to get through another day without bashing someone like you in the face with her court shoes, and share her woes with her man over lasagne and a bottle of Pinot.
6. Try to be funny
The airport is not an appropriate arena for humor. Well, not all humor anyway. We doubt a well-meaning knock knock joke would gain any more attention than some eye rolls and maybe a chuckle. But when the check-in person asks if anyone else has packed your bag, resist all temptation to respond: "As a matter of fact, yes, now you mention it, this shady-looking man approached me…" While it may put a smile on their face, it may also backfire as you are wrestled to the ground by security staff and your bag blown up in a controlled explosion.
7. Jump the line
The epic journey through the airport is fraught with possible stress, especially if you haven’t given yourself enough time to allow for delays caused by the failure of the airport’s computer systems or an unscheduled toilet trip. But lose your manners and you lose a little bit of respect for yourself. Remain courteous, don’t sigh audibly when the person in front of you fails to understand the necessary technique for scanning their boarding pass, and don’t push in front of the 80-something couple in the security line. Karma will find you.
8. Play loud videos on your phone
This especially applies when your fellow gate waiters are already really annoyed because your flight is delayed. Young kids are exempted from this, because they’re kids, and that’s what they do these days rather than climb trees and fish for tadpoles. Plus, if they don’t occupy themselves watching cartoons, their poor parents might have a temper tantrum on their hands, which won’t make fellow passengers happy either. But as an adult, if you must watch your cousin Nancy’s Facebook livestream of little Timmy’s birthday, or listen to rap music to entertain yourself, pop in some headphones first.
9. Believe the sudden change in status on the departure board from Delayed to BOARDING!!
Down the cosmopolitan you’ve only just ordered, don’t go to the restroom, sprint 15 minutes to the gate, and then be stuck in a sheep pen for another hour because your flight isn’t really boarding. They just do it for a laugh.
10. Take this list too seriously*
While they are very much worth taking on board, these points are not hard, fast and watertight. Apart from no.4. Losing your temper at people who are just doing their jobs is unacceptable. And of course, it is possible that a friendly flirtation with a member of the check-in staff will lead to a whirlwind romance, or perhaps even marriage. Or an arrest.