The Airport Survival Guide

I don’t go to airports much but when I do, I’m there for a long time. 

The problem with being stingy when booking flights is that your layovers are longer than the round the world flight itself. Then again you may find yourself sprinting at a Usain Bolt pace to make it to boarding- I’m not sure which one I prefer. This short guide should help you to make the most of those many mundane hours spent in airport limbo.


So firstly, ignore tax-free heaven. Run away from the spritzer girls and hide from the quirky rip-off souvenir stores. They’re there for later entertainment. However, be well equipped with water, I choose Evian (their adverts are better) and ensure that you have a decent supply of breakfast bars; nobody likes dehydration and starvation. If there’s a Starbucks- use it, you never know when you’ll see it again. If there’s fast food- use it, you’ll probably see McDonalds wherever you are in the world but a burger’s a burger. 

Next, find a seat and stay there. It’s important that you stick to this order; finding that perfect, hard-to-find comfort in your seat with views of the runway and television screen then shortly having to leave due to hunger pains sucks and someone will steal it. Get food, find seat. 

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Say a small wifi prayer and hopefully it will be answered (wifi, then apply the unspoken rule of updating the world through social media of your whereabouts.


31 People will still like you’re douchebag status so be as much of an a-hole as you please.

The next step is to sleep because that leather chair is more comfortable than the plane. Plus you get food, movies and battleships on the plane and you don’t want to miss out on that because you’re too busy drooling on your neighbor’s shoulder.

That should waste a good couple of hours. If you can’t sleep, plug in your ipod and close your eyes all the while squinting open every now and then on the lookout for potential seat thieves . Sit for a little longer people-watching. I’d say people-watching took up 6 out of my 7 hours waiting in Johannesburg airport and in that time I probably made it into an art. There are some pretty interesting people to watch out there.

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When you have a couple of hours left, take a wander. Maybe empty that Evian-full bladder (just remember to pick up your visa papers) and then embark on a journey of perfumes, liquor, sunglasses, magazines and gum. Depending on whether you’re going in or out of the country, now is the prime time to pick up those travel gifts for friends and family- it’s also a great way to use up the small notes and coins you have left.

Spray yourself with Chanel, Instagram lame selfies of you in D&G specs, read through every bible of celebrity gossip- the possibilities are endless…

After about an hour of wandering round it’s time to head back to your gate. At this point you’re probably not the only loser waiting and there’ll be a small army of families, businessmen and tourists to keep you company. Start up a conversation (if you’re on a Camp America organised flight you have no excuse- everyone is flashing their Camp America sticker in the hope to burst out their summer stories  to someone who’ll understand).

On a domestic flight from Phoenix last year I chatted to an American about my summer, the news and a little about Wales. I then listened as she proceeded to repeat everything I’d said to whoever was on the phone to her; that sort of thing shows the sweetness in humanity, especially as the flight was gradually extending it’s departure time and in front of us news reports were coming in of a school shooting.

Now hopefully time has flown by, the last hour or so is spent sitting in a mediocre seat, totally prepared for the flight. Finally you’re called up and it’s happy days!


This is just a brief guide, one that is only valuable in the working hours of an airport when everything is open. If, like I’ve had many times, you’re doing an overnight wait to check in then you’re pretty much screwed entertainment-wise (just keep praying for that wifi).

I hope that this post of basic logic and pictures of planes has brought hope to anyone with a long layover or anyone currently enduring one- stay strong brave ones.


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