(By Liza) When I was a little girl we were lucky enough to go on many family holidays and part of the excitement was going through the airports. My mother would lovingly make new dresses in some quirky fabric for us three girls and we would all look cute and immaculate as we passed through the security and wandered around the airport shops.
These days we are treated to gangs of beach ready tourists in their flip flops and plastic panama hats, the girls with their heavily pencilled- in eyebrows and their ill-applied fake tans already rubbing off on their barely there white see-through shorts. Wait until you get to the beach before you show so much flesh please, there’s no sunbathing to be done in the bloody airport! I don’t understand why you would dress that way to travel, it’s just not practical and looks horrific!
Then there are the whole families in their tracksuit bottoms, slobbing around the airport cafes eating massive fry ups and drinking pint after pint of lager at 7 am, what are you doing? Its no wonder we Brits have such a bad reputation for style or class .
And why does my case always weigh more at the check in desk than it did at home? There’s got to be something dodgy going on there!
And another thing, why do you panic me when I’m looking for the flight information? In the blink of an eye the screen goes from awaiting further info to gate closing and then that gate is 10 miles away. Plus when you get to it, there are no toilets and absolutely no sign of anyone actually boarding, just crowds of people hovering as closely as they can to the barrier just so they can be the first to get on the plane.
Then finally we are herded on, squashed into our seats to be told that the flight has been delayed by three hours but that they wanted us to be ready just in case.
If you’re into people watching, you can’t do much better than an airport. There is always someone that catches your eye when you first enter the terminal…
sometimes it’s a group of unruly children and throughout the process you are praying that they are not going to be the ones that end up sitting behind you.
Or it might be one of the idiots who still doesn’t realise they can’t take a litre of bottled water through security [hello] or who wait until they’re next through the x-ray machine before unloading 57 gadgets!
But then you are through security and buying your first coffee – then you begin to notice your fellow travellers…
There are the extended families with a dozen or more members; their lines of authority so blurred it is impossible to tell who belongs to whom as they splay out in one boisterous colony. There are the sober retirees setting off for some serious hiking, to play golf or visit grandchildren in far-flung places; the immaculate middle-eastern man accompanying three women, all in full Muslim dress; the back-packers with weary but hopeful expressions and the groups of lads already dressed for the beach. There are the impeccably casual mums with their chino-and-polo-shirted husbands and three exquisite, tousled headed children. There are the tear-stained lovers who can’t bear the thought of six weeks’ separation; the obnoxious, show-off children who talk too loudly and pull exaggerated faces and the anxious new mum with a baby strapped to her chest, stressing that every little mew is going to end in mayhem.
It is easy to forget as we jet around the world that mass travel is a very recent phenomenon – just within my lifetime air travel has changed unrecognisably! When I was a child people used to dress up – air travel was exotic and everyone associated with it was sophisticated and dashing. Captains were dark and brooding and Stewardesses were sculpted and flawless. So in an era of casual comfort, if a touch of old-world glamour ever comes your way, run with it just for old time’s sake.