Banter from Brabant

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On Airport World

I have come to believe after sitting in the O’Hare airport, that we are told to arrive so far in advance of the time our flight departs for less than purely innocent reasons. Outside the airport, we live in the ‘Normal World’, where the price of goods and services is, although often expensive in unexpected places, is never shocking, outrageous and prone to fantasies of popular uprising. However, in ‘Airport World’, such is not the case.

When one first enters this world, you, contrary to what would be done in Normal World, do exactly as you are told without question. You accept everything that is told to you as something to immediately accept without protest. In fact, you might even feel bad you were angry that you accepted something you didn’t want too.

You arrive long before the actual time necessary to catch your flight. You have now entered ‘Airport Time’. You place all your possessions, your shoes, your belt and then your body, to a full scan by some machine nobody understands. If you step through this portal without the skull piercing buzz of a ‘security breach’ you have fully passed the threshold into Airport World.

Inside, everything is as busy as a shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving – people meeting, talking, running, pushing, swearing, riding obesity trolleys (has anyone else noticed that those golf-cart trolleys, justifiably meant for the elderly and pregnant women to get around, are usually overfilling with the obese instead?) and, the most important among the citizens of Airport World, spending. Where did these people come from? How long have they been here? You observe haggard individuals sleeping on benches and clutching their meager baggage – are they homeless? No, just tired and alone in Airport World. How much money have they lost in Airport World?

“Hmm…” you say to yourself. “I would like to get something to eat and maybe a beer before my flight…” You check the time and realize you have 2 hours left before your flight departs. “Ok” you say, “I’ll look around and then sit down, eat, have my beer and before I know it, my flight will be leaving.” Your first mistake. In the normal world, 2 hours is 2 hours. In Airport World, 2 hours is more like 2 days. Did not Einstein derive the relativity of time while sitting in an airport?

After spending 50% more than your most pessimistic of estimations, you emerge from a restaurant in Airport World partially fed and angry that you spent 8 dollars for a Michelob Amber Bock. “Ok,” you say, “my flight should be about to board…” But No! You still have 1 “hour” left. So you attempt to read. There is too much activity. You watch people. None appear to have a pleasant countenance and soon, you too are more unpleasant than before. Finally, after aging about three weeks, you sit down in your plane and fall asleep while it waits to take off.

Certainly, the added security costs each business more than normal, however, is added security costs sufficient to justify the fact that food in some airports is three or more times the cost than in the normal world? Or perhaps the airport collects an enormous rent from each of these establishments and thus the price hike is simply required for them to profit. But, profitable they must remain, or the airport makes no rent. Therefore, telling people to arrive 2-3 hours ahead of time, to get through security that almost never takes more than 30 minutes, certainly assists in the profitability of the businesses. After all, when you set a mass of people before a consumer extravaganza, most likely carrying more cash than normal, with nothing to do, what but a hysteria of careless spending could result? Nevertheless, who can’t help but feel violated after an extended venture through airport world? Or perhaps I just complain too much.


  • Yeah, so I must agree, this "airport world" is a total scam. Free market my ass. When Heather and I flew from Boston to Mpls a few weeks ago, the security relived her of about $50 worth of makeup. After she had been told she would be able to take it on the plane at the bag check. So once inside airport world, what with all the time we had, we went to a cosmetics store where they were selling a much larger then normal amount of makeup. It's quite convienent that airport world now has a total monopoly on all goods which are not solids -- this of course is to keep us safe -- not to allow air port vendors to exctact monopoly prices in the absence of real competion. Furthermore, I would be quite suprised if on-flight sales of overpriced beverages hasn't jumped recently. I paid five bucks for can of beer from milwaukee. Anyway, so back to the makeup store in the boston airport. Heather asked if she would be allowed to bring makeup see purchased with her onto the plane. The answer -- No. Funny, that they didn't mention that to anyone else.

    Well, thats all for now. Hope all is well on the far side of the Atlantic.

    By Blogger JG in Vt, at 6:06 PM  

  • What I can't understand is why you didn't take advantage of all the bargains at the "Duty Free?"

    By Blogger Thunder Cats Hoooo!!!, at 3:36 AM  

  • I think Thunder Cats Hooo!!! is being a little sarcastic...

    By Blogger Doug and Beth, at 10:45 AM  

  • I think he just complains too much...

    By Blogger Doug and Beth, at 3:57 PM  

  • I make it a rule not to purchase ANYTHING in airports that I don't absolutely have to, including food. I forgot pens the last time I went to Atlanta and the only ones available were these ugly gift pens that said "I Love Milwaukee" on them. But I needed one, so I spent $4.50 on ONE pen (yes, one pen, not a pack of them) which lasted approximately two hours before it leaked all over.

    P.S. Fred says "Stay off the crack".

    By Blogger Soleil, at 4:17 PM  

  • Hey Beth and Doug!
    Wow! Agree that fat people need to get off their bums and walk through the airport and beer is too expensive, and waiting around sucks!
    But at least we still have th option to fly...
    It has been freezing here in MN!Cold! I could see my brealth this weekend!

    By Blogger Tabby, at 7:51 PM  

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