• The modern version of the Wild West – airport baggage claim. (Wikimedia Commons)Source: Wikimedia Commons
Airports will play a key role over the upcoming holiday season. Unfortunately, they also turn people into lunatics.
Rob Hunter

7 Dec 2018 - 10:12 AM  UPDATED 7 Dec 2018 - 10:12 AM

The Secret Life of the Airport reveals the inner workings of a remarkable industry so technologically complex it stands as a shining example of human endeavour. Yet no matter how astounding it is to travel across the globe defying the laws of nature, humanity finds a way to make the whole process needlessly infuriating.

For those travelling this holiday season, these are the things to avoid to ensure you reach your destination without being deservedly thrown from the plane mid-air.


Step away from the baggage carousel!

Collecting bags after a flight should be a simple affair, as the luggage sushi train presents our belongings to be spotted and retrieved in an orderly fashion. Unfortunately, this is not the way collection occurs because EVERYONE STANDS WAY TOO CLOSE TO THE THING!

We all want to grab our bags and leave, but just by standing a mere metre or two back, bags are easier to locate and everyone benefits. Failing this, legalising the use of cattle prods on those who stand too close is a solid plan B.


Stop hogging the electricity outlets

Power outlets at airports are few and far between, with some travellers turning them into monopolised squatting situations. Such is their rarity, a recent evil (but funny) prank involving fake airport outlets created furore among those tricked.

In today’s low attention span society, it seems people can’t go five minutes without charging their phones, staring blankly at screens and doing anything to avoid human interaction. But the rest of us want to do that stuff too! Accordingly, taking more than one airport power outlet is unacceptable.


Avoid overpacking

Boarding gates consistently feature passengers furious that airlines who clearly state their baggage allowance are not making a grand exception for their massively overweight bags. To avoid making a fool of yourself and holding up the line, plan ahead! Alternatively, at least have the foresight to strap any duty-free shopping to your chest and pretend you have some sort of medical condition if questioned.


Stop blocking the travellators

Walking somewhere when the ground can do the moving for you may seem like a waste of energy, but not everyone has the luxury of spare time at the airport. If you insist on remaining stationary, gleefully riding the floor like the lamest of cowboys, the small courtesy of moving to the left without blocking the path is appreciated.


Listen to the boarding instructions

Something about boarding announcements causes people’s basic comprehension skills to fly out the window and grind themselves into a fine paste on the tarmac below. As a condescending but bizarrely necessary guide, when your row is called, get on the plane.

When your boarding entrance is explained, use that entrance. And when you look at your ticket and see what seat you have been allocated, sit in that seat. If any of this appears confusing, consider finding an alternative means of travel or perhaps some nice mud to sit in.


Stop complaining!

Travelling can be stressful, but if you feel like throwing a tantrum at an airport, take a moment to remember air travel is a nature-defying marvel. Yes, delays are annoying and paying $18 for a sandwich is a freaking outrage, but the last thing airport staff or cabin crew need are unnecessary problems as we prepare to hurtle through space in a giant metal death tube.

Realistically none of the above problems is that big a deal, so if you find yourself getting agitated, take a breath, relax and stop making the extreme privilege of experiencing one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments worse than it has to be.

The Secret Life of the Airport reveals the challenges faced by ground and air crew on a daily basis. Yet for all the technological difficulties, weather issues and unpredictable problems, dealing with fellow humans is consistently the biggest challenge.

As such, employing a small amount of thought and common decency will help ensure you have a pleasant flight this holiday season without irritating fellow passengers and personnel. And just another friendly reminder to STAND THE HECK BACK FROM THE BAGGAGE CAROUSEL! (It’s annoying.)


The Secret Life of the Airport airs Sunday 9 December at 8:40pm on SBS and streams after broadcast at SBS On Demand.