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- About FTDC
- The Avid Cruiser
I Love Airports – and you should, too.
Whenever I talk to cruisers, either in person or here on this website, there is a single overriding constant: an almost universal dislike for airports and air travel. In many cases, enduring security checks, lengthy waits at passport control, missing luggage and cramped (shall we say petit?) seating on most airlines.
But I have to disagree, for one simple reason: I love the airport.
Sure, I don’t like rounding the corner to find a long line at check-in, a longer line at security, and a massive line at passport control, but I love the airport for what it represents: a gateway to the world. If you can dream up a destination, chances are you can fly there.
It’s a privilege that has never existed at any other time in history.
Even just a century ago, merely crossing the Atlantic was an arduous journey taking nearly a week or more. Now, all I have to do is endure cramped seating and a few bad movies for half a day and I can be in London. Or Paris. Or Rome.
Travellers a century ago would have given you their first-born for that kind of magic.
While I’ve always loved travel, I’ve understandably done a lot more of it since launching From the Deck Chair three years ago. And I’ve learned a few tricks to help make the airport – and even the flight – nearly as good as your cruise itself.
To start with, don’t carry more than you can handle. By that, I mean limit your carry-on and luggage to a level that you can, if needed, handle yourself. Too often I see people lugging the maximum amount of carry-ons, along with bottled water, lumbar support pillows, hoodies and more along with them to their gate. The downside of this: it leaves no free hands to get out tickets and passports when needed.
I use the same carryon bag every time, and because I travel quite a bit, it stays packed year-round. It’s a laptop bag that comes with more pockets than you can shake a stick at, and it was acquired for a low $20 from my local office supply store. That way, if it gets ripped, wrecked or otherwise damaged (and it will), I won’t shed tears.
But I only use one bag, which keeps my hands free for security, border control, and whatnot. I spent years getting frustrated and trying to juggle luggage until I realized I just needed to streamline what I take with me – not an easy task when my carry-on still routinely includes a laptop, two cameras, lenses, memory cards, international cellphone, documents, snacks, books, and chargers for everything.
The airport itself can still be a fun experience. Arrive early so you’re not rushed at check-in; that way, if the line wraps around the building, you can congratulate yourself on a job well done for getting there ahead of time.
Now, I realize not all airports are created equal. Here in Vancouver, we have an airport that approaches something resembling a fanciful museum instead of a major international hub. It has waterfalls, jade sculptures, an aquarium, a viewing area and interpretive centre, and more.
Which is why I try to arrange my travels through airports I enjoy whenever I have to connect.
My favorite European airport is, without a doubt, Frankfurt. It’s not the most stunning airport I’ve ever seen, but it’s quick, efficient and the staff are friendly. It’s the only airport in the world where I enjoy going through passport control, because it moves quickly and staff always have a line opened for tight connection flights. Staff at Frankfurt are friendly, helpful and extremely knowledgeable, and I look forward to returning here next week en-route to Bergen, Norway.
Ditto for Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which runs like clockwork. Sure, the single-lane security lineup is a total pain and a very modest coffee cost me €5, but I’d connect through Schiphol any day.
Other great European airports: Stockholm Arlanda, Oslo Gardermoen, Dusseldorf International…the list goes on.
So try to relax and enjoy the ride; air travel certainly may not be as easy as it used to be, but it’s still one of the greatest marvels of the modern world.
From the Deck Chair will return tomorrow!
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