It’s been a year since that trip to the airport! It’s been over a year now since the pandemic hit us. What a time to be alive and adulting! It’s hard to tell where the last 300 odd days of lives have flown, while our lives, rather the entire world came to a standstill. ‘Unprecedented’ became the word of the year. The last couple of months felt like what is meant to feel like the new normal has begun to settle in. We restarted our lives outside our homes with a mask and a sanitizer as our shields. The pandemic has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, one that refuses to end. Through all these highs and lows, what we’ve terribly missed is every little aspect of travel. While many have been and continue to travel to every place accessible, travel is still not what we recommend. But every day, especially at a time like this is a good day to reminisce everything that we love about travel.
Let’s start alphabetically!
A for Airport!
Quite literally, the ABC of travel begins with Airports.
I spent my childhood living with my grandparents in the Vile Parle area of Bombay. Traveling became a part of my life at a much later phase. I spent a large amount of my childhood gazing at the scores of planes that would fly above our building, which was not too far from the Bombay Airport. Scores of planes flew by each day. These planes were literally like stars, I could see them passing by each day and yet, I was so far away. Air travel was not as regular in Middle Class Indian household in the 90s. Hence, spotting the planes flying by was my only connection with air travel.
It must have been the early 2000s when I first visited the Bombay Airport with my grandmother. We were there to receive my aunt who was coming from the UK for a holiday. A visit to the airport then, literally meant standing at the Arrivals, waiting for my aunt and cousin to arrive. My aunt immediately gave me a box of one of those egg-shaped chocolates which had a whole exotic vibe to them at the given point.
There were a couple of trips to the airport after that, but all I can remember is the exteriors and the constant sound of planes flying over.
Despite spending a very long time being blissfully unaware, yet curious about the insides of the airport, I was always fascinated by them. I believe it had a lot to do with the aspirational factor.
Years later, when I started traveling on my own, airports to me were all about the stories. I live with my parents, so they are always around to help (if I choose) with the shopping, the packing, the preps, the pre-trip family dinner and to drop me to the airport. Right up till the airport, I am all worked up with butterflies in my stomach about the trip. Especially, before the longer trips. I guess this is the part where a part of my brain goes through major FOMO (fear of missing out) of what may happen at home when I am away. And from time-to-time, some part of taking that chance of leaving it to destiny is always harder to take before it is actually taken. It’s not just about me.
Stepping out of the car at the Mumbai Airport Departures is all about those few overwhelming minutes where you are scared about leaving all that you care so much about behind. But you are also overloaded with a range of emotions. Especially, when you look around and see all those who are there to travel and their loved ones who are there to drop them. And that, there is the beauty! It’s strange and unexplained, how airport conversations are so heartfelt, honest and full of love. No matter what words you exchange, no matter what conversation you may or may not have with your loved ones at the airport. Deep down, the only feeling that overpowers on both sides is honest love and care. It’s like the movies, but very very real.
Once you show your documents at the gate and step into the airport, the feeling finally sinks in. It’s too fast a shift of emotions. From having that 1% doubt of leaving, to being 101% exhilarated for the journey ahead, the shift is quicker than you’d realize.
Personally, I love this time. I love this part of the airport. Check-in, security checks, waiting, walking the long stretches. I love getting to the gate, maybe after grabbing a coffee or some snacks on the way and waiting for the flight.
I live for this stuff. And I love most part of it. Even the layovers (that really shouldn’t be a surprise.)
What never ceases to amaze me is the people and the stories that unfold at airport. It is where the journey begins, where the waiting happens, people watching, eves dropping, waiting for flights and social media scrolling, airports are just about perfect for everything at almost any given time of the day.
Things To Do At The Airport
Apart from all my emotional fantasies, here’s a list of some fun/ important things to do at the airport:
- Once you get past the security check, figure the route to your gate. Then decide if you need to take a trip to the snack bar or bookshop.
- At all times, be alert during the announcements (for change of gate, etc). Make sure to be on time for your boarding and follow all airport protocol
- Grabbing a bite at the airport is a great idea. Especially, if you don’t have a pre-booked meal or would rather prefer a Subway over the in-flight sandwiches.
- If you’re going to be waiting for long, buy yourself a cup of coffee
- Head to the bookshop. Feel free to buy a new book even if you’re already carrying one in your handbag
- Check out the Duty-Free section (I am not that person)
- Look around and people watch. Please don’t be creepy or intrusive when you do this!
- Read/ get some work done- sending mails, finishing PPTs, writing, etc.
- Message your loved ones who may not be traveling with you
- Fill your bottles, so that you don’t have to wait for water when you board the plane.
- Go to the loo! Remember, you’re going to have to wait longer to use the loo in the flight.
- Reach the airport early if you wish to enjoy this part of the journey too!
- Take extra care of your boarding pass through all of this.
Apart from your personal choices, and a dash of luck, a major part of your airport experience will depend on the airport that you are at. For all the time spent at the airport, we’ve had a range of experiences. Right from spending the night at the airport, rushing to the airport after waking up late for a morning flight, delayed flights, being intimidated by the officials, forgetting a laptop at the screening counter, sleeping in the lounge area while watching the sunrise and parked planes, and some crazy, some calm experiences. And through all these experiences and memories, we can happily say that WE LOVE AIRPORTS!
Fun fact: The Bombay Airport Starbucks is one of my favorite places to work from, especially when I hit a creative block. Thanks to low budget airlines and cheap flight tickets, air travel and hence, trips to the airport have become a rather regular affair.
Do you also love airports as much as we do? What’s your favorite thing to do at the airport?
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