The Six Idiots You Meet at American Airports

Traveling is my favorite thing to do. I love going to new places, meeting new people, and generally seeing how people outside my little sphere of existence live. Fortunately, I have traveled a lot in my time, and through these travels I have learned that while airports are a necessity of travel, they are also monuments to modern stupidity. This article will detail some of the idiots that make air travel such a nuisance sometimes. And this isn’t even including the worst person you can come across on the actual plane itself. These are just the six idiots you meet at an American airport.

1. The Inconvenient Walkers

The Inconvenient Walkers normally hit you before you’ve even entered the airport. You know these folks. They normally have too much luggage. Well, not too much luggage, really, but inconvenient luggage. Maybe it’s something cumbersome like an upright bass or a globe collection. Or perhaps it is that they have too much stuff. One time at DFW I saw someone walk into the airport with their travel bag, backpack, coffee mug, notepad, novel, iPad, stuffed animal, and an extra pair of shoes. She looked like a German waitress carrying way too many beers at Oktoberfest.

She walked slowly, dropping things and asking others to pick them up, generally wreaking havoc. I saw her twice. Once was when she blocking me from entering the parking garage because she dropped something on the ground in front of the garage entrance. It took her 45 seconds to arrange stuff in her arms and bend over and pick the dropped items up. Meanwhile a queue of five cars piled up behind me as I waited for her to pick up her crap. The other time was walking into the airport, where she somehow managed to take up the entire sidewalk.

Inconvenient Walkers can be anywhere, and generally show the following characteristics. 1. They walk in the middle of the concourse but stop frequently so as to cause minor traffic jams. 2. They walk soooooo slowly, like an old turtle on muscle relaxers. 3. They’re always blocking you from being where you want to be at that moment. 4. They block the aisle on the plane looking for their seat, can’t fit their stuff in the overhead bin, or keep catching their luggage on the elbows of those already seated.

2. The Security Dummy

I wanted to close with this because it’s my biggest pet peeve, but even in writing this I got impatient and put it second. Since 9/11, airport security has been an ever-evolving animal of many-layered frustration. That said, the procedure has pretty much been the same for about seventeen years now, so you’d think most folks would know it. Remove your shoes, remove your belt, place everything except your ticket in the little grey bin, don’t have any liquids over three ounces, and if you have a laptop, take it out of its case and set it in its own little grey bin. Sure, it can be a pain to do that stuff. That’s why I always wear slip-on shoes and don’t even have my belt on when approaching the security line.

But we should all be used to it by now. There’s no excuse for not knowing how to go through security. Even if it’s your first time, there’s normally a TSA agent walking up and down telling you those things. “Remove your shoes and belts. Laptops must out of their cases and sitting in a separate bin. Liquids must be under three ounces and in TSA-approved containers,” says the TSA agent. Just follow instructions and you’ll be in and out in no time. But there’s always someone wearing a full suit of armor and boots that lace up to the thigh and traveling with a case of Ozarka water and thirteen laptops. And that person never listens. They don’t do anything until they’re at the front of the line, where they spend the next nine days unpacking their crap and going through the scanner.

At the Dublin airport you go through customs there so you don’t have to go through customs once you land back in the States. This means you go through security once upon entering Dublin airport, and again going through US Customs at the Dublin airport. I am not exaggerating when I say that it took almost three hours to get though both sets of security, and that was almost completely due to the idiots in the security lines. Awful. They should have a line designated for the idiots.

3. The Taking Up Too Much Room Moron

You’ve made it through security, had a meal at the airport Chili’s, and are at your gate. You want a place to sit and wait for boarding, but you can’t find a seat because someone is taking up a whole row. Seriously, take it in. It’s a couple that looks like they’re still drunk from the night before. They have commandeered an entire row of the lounge seats with bags, blankets, pillows, etc. They’re actually lying down across four seats each.

I understand that there are different societal rules at airports. Sometimes people are forced to sleep at the airport because of a delay or whatever. But when that happens, it’s generally overnight when there aren’t as many people in the airport. As soon as the airport is in full swing, people shouldn’t lie down on the seats anymore because it’s rude. They are, in essence, stealing seats from people. In their defense, these are the least annoying of the idiots you see in American airports. Still, though. It’s annoying.

4. The Hovering At The Gate Buffoon

“Utopia Airlines flight 2589 with nonstop service to Toledo, Ohio is now boarding. All passengers in our Utopia Rewards program, along with active military personnel and passengers with special needs may begin boarding now.” You check your boarding pass and notice that you are in boarding group F, seat 32C. You know it will be a solid ten or fifteen minutes before you’re scanning your boarding pass, but just in case you decide to stand right by the counter and block others’ paths to the gate.

Such is the action of the Hovering At The Gate Buffoon. You have an assigned seat. The plane will not likely run out of overhead bins. You know that boarding must be done in an orderly fashion. Why, then are you standing right at the ticket counter? Do you just feel like annoying the person announcing the boarding groups? What are you trying to accomplish? The worst part of the HATGB is that the encourage other HATGBs to do the same thing. Soon there are more HATGBs at the counter than there are passengers who are actually in the correct boarding group. It is a fool’s errand to attempt to understand the mental workings of a madman, but I really would like to know what these folks are trying to accomplish.

5. The Get Up Right After Landing Nincompoop

The plane lands, taxis to the gate, and comes to a complete stop. The jetway isn’t set yet, and the guys on the ground with the orange cone things are still making adjustments to the plane’s wheels. Yet twelve people just stood up and are standing awkwardly in the aisle. There are several minutes until anyone will be able to grab their stuff from the overhead bins. Moreover, getting off the plane works much better when the rows are dismissed in order, with row 1 being first and row 35 being last. Even if it feels longer, I can promise you it’s not. That’s the best way to get off a plane.

Granted, sometimes there might be exigent circumstances that dictate one should get off the plane immediately. Perhaps it’s a medical emergency or the airline has arranged for some folks to get off first to make a connecting flight. Whatever. In those instances other passengers generally are told what’s going on. I was on a flight once where the pilot came over the intercom and told everyone to sit tight after landing so that they could ensure a passenger who was having a medical crisis could be the first one off the plane. And you know what? Everyone complied. It was amazing.

The people who stand up right when the plane lands block others from getting up at the appropriate time. They also create a general sense of anxiety among the other passengers. I have even seen these folks cause someone physical harm when they started getting into the overhead bin too early. The plane made one small movement, but the guy standing up wasn’t ready for it. He fell forward and squashed someone’s arm between his body and the armrest. Just stay put until it’s actually time to leave.

6. The Baggage Claim Simpleton

I hate baggage claim, though not for any anti-airline reason. I think, all things considered, most airlines/airports are great at getting baggage off the plan and to the claim carousel as quickly as possible. What I hate about baggage claim is the people. First, you have those who get impatient and loudly say “how hard is it to unload a plane?” I don’t know how hard it is, but I’m positive it’s harder than a Real Housewives viewer thinks it is.

Then there are the people who “strategically” set themselves up right where the baggage comes off the chute onto the carousel. Perhaps this is some bravado thing. They think showing those catlike reflexes to grab a bag makes them Spiderman. In reality, they end up clogging the machine a bit by taking too long to remove their bag. I have had this happen at airports in Oklahoma, California, and Houston, so I don’t think it’s regional. Someone took too long, the bags got backed up in the chute, and everyone was delayed in getting their bags while the problem was addressed by airport staff.

Then there’s the person who chases their bag around the carousel. They bump into people and utter a halfhearted “sorry ’bout that!” Do they not understand that the carousel is, in fact, rounded and repeating? In fact, if one were to stand in the exact same spot, eventually their bag would appear before them as if by magic. Wait, no. Magic isn’t the right word, is it? It’s not magic, it’s…oh, yeah! A completely predictable and mechanical process which has been used for decades. If one stands in the same spot their bag will appear as if by a completely predictable and mechanical process that has been used for decades. It doesn’t help that people are generally irritated at this point. They’ve been traveling all day and all they want is a meal and a bed. Still no excuse to act so inconsiderate.

Conclusion

Airports are, for better or worse, a part of traveling now. In my experience the main reasons a person has not flown is that they have a fear of flying or they just don’t want to. I understand there are some folks who can’t afford it or have other reasons, but by and large I think it’s fear and lack of desire. That said, for those of us fortunate enough to deal with these airport idiots somewhat regularly, it’s taxing. We must remember that the airport frustration is temporary, and most of the time the destination holds the payoff for your patience.

So if you are traveling, be on the lookout for these people: The Inconvenient Walker. The Security Dummy. The Taking Up Too Much Room Moron. The Hovering At The Gate Buffoon. The Get Up Right After Landing Nincompoop. The Baggage Claim Simpleton. They (generally) mean well, I think, but their inconsiderate actions are frustrating. And if you recognize yourself in any of these people, do everyone a favor and change your airport routine. I promise you will feel better about yourself. People say “be yourself,” but if your version of yourself is the Security Line Dummy, make a fundamental change to who you are as a person.

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