Airports are probably the most wonderful places in the world to people watch. No matter how carefully we plan or convince ourselves that it’ll be hit or miss whether we make it onto the plane, everybody always seems to get to the airport approximately four thousand hours before the gate opens. Seeing as there are only so many times you can have a beer and an £8 sandwich, and only so long any human can aimlessly wander around WHSmith, there’s nothing left to do but find a seat and watch your fellow holidaymakers. Travel is now more accessible than ever before, and that’s just great because it means that there are more characters to be found. In fact, since I wrote this original post back in 2014 there are probably new groups of people or even more advances evolutions of the ones featured here. But for now, let’s enjoy the original dozen – the twelve types of people that, if you’re lucky enough, you just might spot once your airside.
1. The Stags – A staple of any airport, they travel in packs of no less than 10,000 and are heard from miles around. They only fly to Prague, which is supposedly in ‘Yugoslavia or something’, because Big Bald Barry is marrying his daughter.
2. The Dictator – The battle-axe who forces all family and friends to surrender their passports and credit cards to be confined to her rucksack and only returned when absolutely necessary. The Dictator can usually be spotted trailing behind the rest of her pack, keeping a close eye on their every move. She has the entire holiday planned out in her Filofax and has no time for deviation.
3. The Elderly Couple – Can always be found sitting in silence in the lounge whilst nibbling away on home made egg mayonnaise sandwiches. It’s entirely feasible that they haven’t had a proper conversation for the past five years, but the male thought a trip away would do the female some good and might get her to finally break her painful silence and resentment. Their flight to Jersey doesn’t actually leave for another three days but it’s best to be safe than sorry, right?
4. The Prepared – He’s the frequent flyer who knows how every airport works. Can be found in the queue for security with his see-through plastic bag and laptop in one hand and his jacket and belt in the other. It’s always a joy to watch as his bag gets pulled to one side and scrutinised whilst you breeze past even though you didn’t remove your belt as you joined the queue and had to deal with your pants around your ankles for half an hour as a consequence.
5. The Unprepared – Quite the opposite of the above, this is the person who is completely dumbfounded when their 700ml bottle of cheap perfume is confiscated at security and they’re asked to remove their shoes despite this having been protocol for over a decade. Likely to have also forgotten to print their boarding pass and mistakenly thought that they could bring a warehouse sized suitcase of their shit on a Ryanair flight for no extra charge.
6. The Security Officer – Somebody who willingly rifles through your dirty underwear and used clothes must be treated with suspicion, ironically.
7. The Businessman – The one solitary guy who falls for the trap of speedy boarding every single time because ‘the office will pay for it LOLLL’. Seemingly takes great pleasure in getting on a plane first and sitting idly for 40 minutes with nothing to do but watch as people crush his briefcase to the back of the overhead. He will also turn his phone on as the plane begins its descent just in case he’s missed an important call or email during that 1.5 hour trip to the other side of the continent.
8. The Scouser – Believes that Amsterdam is the only city abroad worth going to and can therefore only be found at John Lennon or Schiphol – a rare airport treat. You’ll know the Scousers because they’re the ones who are either off their face at Wetherspoons at 5am or sitting dazed with bloodshot eyes munching on a multipack of caramel waffles.
9. The Backpacker – Seen at airports around the world with greasy hair, dirty fingernails and clutching a copy of any Lonely Planet guide. Probably the kind to have badges and patches on their bags to show off the awe-inspiring places they’ve been. So, you went to Paris? GOD! YOU’RE SO OUT THERE!
10. The Family – They truly are awful in every social setting. At the airport, they seem to think that they have a divine right to jump to the front of every queue in existence because they have a six year old with them. We’ll still be able to hear your child screaming whether you’re at the front of the queue or at the back, so you going ahead of me makes us all lose. As a side note, whoever the genius was who brought about the idea of families with small children going on planes first is a total wank. If there’s one thing small children don’t like then it’s sitting still, please don’t make everything more miserable for us all by making them sit for even longer!
11. The Border Police – The human form of broken dreams. They were promised with a job of protecting their country on the frontline yet are constantly dealing with the realisation that this means sitting on a swivel chair looking at foreigner’s grimacing passport photos. All. Day. Long. As a tourist we get a little scared when they menacingly flick through our passports, but they’re probably just completely bored and looking for other terrible photos of you on visas and the like.
12. The Taxi Tout – A nice welcome to the country you’ve just landed in. Step outside into fresh air for the first time in what seems like months and be greeted by the toothless local armed with a cigarette and a relentless attitude who will gladly take you to the city centre for the discount price of €60. Extra kudos to those who continue to ply their trade even when you’ve accepted another driver.