Delving behind the scenes of one of the world’s busiest international airports, 10-part series Ultimate Airport Dubai provides an insight into the immense management, stress and skill involved in facilitating global air travel.
Yet as typical human consumers, when presented with something as astounding as a gateway to the world, we quickly get bored with it.
For those travelling this holiday season, these are some ways to pass the time in an airport while enduring the tedium of one of humankind’s greatest marvels.
Go to sleep
You may not have access to a bed, but every airport has an empty chair or at the very least, a floor. Add an eye mask, noise-cancelling headphones and a reliable alarm and you will find a peaceful way to pass the time in an otherwise dreary experience. This advice also applies to the workplace and relatives’ weddings you feel an obligation to attend.
Make use of the airport entertainment
Airport designers are aware that humans are now wildly underwhelmed by the miraculous science of air travel. Accordingly, many have installed dedicated entertainment features such as Singapore’s renowned Changi airport, which has two free movie theatres, a pool and plans for a hedge maze.
Not every airport has such extravagant attractions, but whether it’s as simple as Wi-Fi, a small garden or shops, most have something to ensure passengers don’t lose their minds when facing the ungodly prospect of being left alone for a while.
Speaking of entertainment, most airports have a viewing area from which to watch the planes take off and land, facilitating the surprisingly popular hobby of ‘plane spotting’. One might argue that after witnessing one such take-off and landing, you have basically seen them all. Accurate though that may be, it’s better than staring at a blank wall.
Find a lounge
Airline lounges were once the restricted domain of frequent flyers and VIPs, but many now offer entry to those who know the secret password: asking if you can come in and paying some money. Paying extra to sit in a nice chair, eat something and have a shower is a great way to rejuvenate and relax, or should at least make you feel superior to passengers unaware of the secret password.
Take advantage of the airport’s abundance of floor and have a good walk around. Like an overly energetic dog, if you tucker yourself out before boarding, you are bound to be more restful and calm during your flight.
Talk to someone
For many of us it runs against every social instinct, but if feeling brave, you could always attempt to talk with a fellow traveller. Perhaps you’ll make a new friend! More likely someone will engage in small talk for a short while before trying to exit the conversation, so be sure to read their cues and don’t turn your own boredom into someone else’s problem.
Find a comfy place to sit and enjoy the show
Especially during the busy holiday period, an airport can be a tense environment leading to frayed tempers and frequent outbursts. Amidst delays, overweight bag fines, lost luggage and masses of clashing personalities, a dramatic spectacle is only ever a heartbeat away!
Ideally everyone would stay calm and treat each other with decency, but given that is never going to happen, other people’s lack of control might as well be entertaining.
Sit still and do nothing
In today’s frantic world, having a moment in which nothing must be done is a privilege not everyone has the luxury to enjoy. As such, using time waiting for a plane to relax, breathe and reflect can be a gift in itself. It can also be a reminder of how technology and the media have destroyed your imagination and attention span, leaving your brain a vapid husk struggling to maintain any semblance of coherent thought. But either way at least you will be passing the time.
Ultimate Airport Dubai reveals the extreme logistical challenge of running a major airport, with the demanding nature of passengers often adding needless stress to an already difficult job. Accordingly, for those travelling over the holidays, the best and most overlooked option may be to take a moment to appreciate the gift of air travel without feeling the selfish need to be constantly entertained. Having said that, the novelty of sitting around for hours can wear thin after a while, so at least bring a book or something.
Catch Ultimate Airport Dubai on Sundays at 7:35pm on SBS VICELAND.