Today’s Airports Offer Neither Liberty, Safety nor Fun

Lots of people love animals. Doesn’t mean they love the zoo.

You might love fried chicken and hate KFC restaurants.

Most of you reading this love to travel. But how do you feel about airports?

xboxmas loves them:

I love the airport. Sure there are some things that we all hate like long waits in security lines, security in general(although it keeps us safe), waiting for baggage, the large crowds, and the occasional rude airport employee. But there’s something about it that I really like- I love to travel and I think the excitement of going somewhere else sets in. I also love that in a sense its a “gateway to the world.” There are many different destinations, and even if I’m not going to an exotic place, its still cool to know that you are just a flight away and that there are people there who are going to that particular place. I love seeing different people from around the world in one place. I also love watching the planes take off and land outside of the big window while waiting for my own flight.

As it turns out, many travelers agree with xboxmas – though there are certainly also more than a few who used to love airports but are no longer quite so enamored.

I adore airports. Even after dozens upon dozens of flights, I still get a particular little happy feeling in an airport. I love seeing all the people and thinking about where they came from and where they are going. I enjoy the idea that each person/couple/family is in its own little bubble, doing their own thing, but we are still all joined together in this liminal space between “here” and “there.” Perhaps it is sappy and trite, but for me that magic never wears off. ~StPaulGal

I did, until they started those continual, every 10-15 minute, Homeland Security messages which can drive you to utter madness! ~tijlover

I used to go to a nearby airport with friends and spend time in the bar – watching travelers come and go. The atmosphere now is totally differant. It is no longer a place I enjoy. ~talloola

Like many others, I used to, back in the 60s. I’d often take dates to Omaha’s Eppley Field for dinner and then hang out on the deck to watch planes come and go. Can’t do that now. Can’t hang out on the deck, can’t date other women.:/ ~WyoNewk

And then there are some who would rather be almost anywhere else:

I love going to airports the way that dogs love going to the vet. Once I am past security, it’s not so bad, but basically, airports are an authoritarian nightmare where you have no expectation of privacy or control over your own life. Also, they are full of very stressed out people, expensive, poor food, and often not very clean. ~ABQConvict

I wonder how much of this is age related. Personally, I’m old enough to remember greeting and being greeted by relatives at the gate, and I still feel a sense of loss every time I step out of the jetway knowing there won’t be a loving and excited face there to welcome me.

But for those of you who are younger, and who never experienced what that was like, or never had the pleasure of watching the planes takeoff and land from an airport observation deck – maybe you have nothing to compare against. Maybe you enjoy airports today as much as some of us enjoyed them back in the day.

It’s a great thread, with some great perspectives. And in some ways it really makes you wonder, especially when reading the comments above by talloola and WyoNewk, if today’s airports might be missing some great opportunities to turn a profit.

And from a more meta perspective, I wonder if any thesis students out there have considered studying how airport cultures have changed as security has tightened and “freedoms” have been restricted. On a microcosmic level this could make for an interesting analysis, particularly if compared to larger societies that have undergone similar transitions.

Come to think of it, maybe a visit to a modern day airport is a bit like taking a trip behind the old iron curtain.

Read the thread in its entirety: Does anybody else love airports?

Image: “Portland airport near sunset” by Angelo DeSantis. CC BY 2.0.

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