The 15 funniest things about airports

It’s that time of year again when millions of us head for the departure gate, heading for sunnier climes and a beachside hotel. But before we can board the plane, we have to undergo the trial by fire, which is the Airport Retail & Entertainment Experience; the modern equivalent of the great medieval test of truth, only with a little less fire, sword and torture – and a few more overpriced perfumes with names like Ambience! and Vanilla Ghost.

It is a source of joy for some people; Abundant irritation to many others. Why? Here are 15 reasons why the duty free section and its various allies could get your goat…

The windowless Maze of Despair

Back in the annals of Greek legend, Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of gold thread to mark his path through the labyrinth. You need the help of a mythological Minoan princess to make your way around the maze that faces all passengers right after security. Trying to catch your flight on time, sir? It’s great that you’re up for a challenge! Do 14 laps around the Temple of Delicious Vodka, and if you get lost by the Wall of Brands with Different Prices, retrace your steps to the Tower of Identical Sunglasses.

The Perfume Ambush

All Theseus had to do was fight the Minotaur. He would be no match for the army of rictus-grinning young men and women, stepping forward at every corner to draw attention to him with strips of cardboard infused with the latest “lifestyle fragrances”. A fearful bull man is one thing. Combined aromas of jasmine, apple blossom and whatever it is that Johnny Depp has tried to flog into that ad with the guitar and the many other CGI wolves.

Many travelers make a beeline for the duty-free perfumes

Many travelers make a beeline for the duty-free perfumes – getty

“Cheaper than high street prices”

Yes. Which high street? Rodeo drive?

Water torture

We are a sustainable airport. We believe in responsible travel. That is why we have installed water fountains in our terminals. Where? Venture down the gloomy service corridor, take the freight lift to the fifth floor and ask for Nigel (Tuesdays only). Or, choose from 77 brands of bottled water in these giant refrigerators. Something, 20 percent recycled plastic.

You have to listen to music in the recycling bins

Great brainwave, this. Last month, Heathrow announced a summer concert series that will give young hopefuls a platform in Terminal Five – and a chance to impress any top record label executives flying into the UK for the festival season.

Because that’s just what a fit type needs, just off the 11-hour flight from LA, and just before you get to the mud of Glastonbury or Reading – a chance to listen to “the new Ed Sheeran” amid the swirl of coffee. machines at the nearest outlet of That International Sandwich Franchise, just two meters away.

And it’s what passengers want too.

“Is our flight to Athens delayed – or departing from a new gate? I’d hate to miss it because we’re not paying attention.”

“I don’t know, my dearest. I couldn’t hear the announcement – because Jeff was over there doing some punch-boxing. Do not bother with it. Let’s stay here and watch “the new Dua Lipa” do some lip synching.”

They have to play music for bored passengers near the recycling bins

Great brainwave, this. You’re an optimistic youngster with serious plans to make it in the music industry, and a repertoire of original songs to match. Unfortunately, your agent has signed you up for an “immediate” Heathrow gig in the middle of summer.

Thirty years from now, you’ll still wake up screaming in the middle of the night, remembering the day your own personal music died like four-year-old ice cream smeared all over your amp.

Epic data mining

“Hi. I would like to buy this single packet of old fashioned sweets for my short flight.”

“Excellent sir. Please scan your boarding pass, give us the names of all your relatives, living or dead, for the past four generations, and add an email address for each person.”

Data collection is common at airport duty frees and cafesData collection is common at airport duty frees and cafes

Data collection is common at airports duty free and cafes – getty

“Competitive exchange rates”

If Charles Dickens were writing A Christmas carol today, he would have Scrooge on an airport currency desk. And completely unrepentant. “I don’t care if you’re the Ghost of Christmas Future. It is 92 Euro-cents per pound. Would you like the buyback option?”.

trite regional souvenirs

Nothing says “I had such a good time while I was away that I didn’t think to buy you a present before I got to the airport; will this do?” or biscuits in an over-stylised tin with Victorian illustrations of seven villages you haven’t been to. For £2.25 a short slice of bread.

The gargantuan chocolate bar

Only visible in airports. Sponsored by your nearest private dentist and filling supplier.

Seafood roulette

You are about to be locked in a metal tube for the next nine hours. What you Seriously A crustacean breakfast is wanted at the oyster counter in an airport 75 miles from the ocean.

The famous chef restaurant…

The gist: “Here at Angelino’s, we serve dishes with the flair that double-star chef Massimo Angelino brought to his restaurant empire. Gourmet dishes, inspired by his Sicilian upbringing. Paradise on a plate.”

The translation: “A 21-year-old trainee sous-chef called Chef Angelino about six years ago. Angelino is not within 500 miles of us. We mainly do burgers.”

For some people, the maze of the airport is almost too much to bearFor some people, the maze of the airport is almost too much to bear

For some people, the maze of the airport is almost too much to bear – getty

…with quality restaurant service

“Thank you. That was lovely. Could I pay, please? I’ve got a plane to catch.”

“Exactly. I’ll be back in 25 minutes with the bill, and another 50 with the credit card swiper.”

The whole discrepancy

A bottle of perfume in the duty free maze: Damask Rose. Hints of citrus and spice. A-list actress-model parroting a catchphrase. #Live your Best Life. It’s only £129.99 for 100ml.

Perfume bottle in the X-ray scanner 10 meters away: MAJOR SECURITY BREACH! Lower for the shutters! Call the SWAT Team! READ THE HOURS!

The duty-free exception to the carry-on rule

Airlines: One carry-on bag only; 3mm by 5mm by 6mm. If it doesn’t fit under the seat, it will have to go into the stomach, for an administration fee of £60. If you complain, you will be deplaned and made to walk to your destination.

Airports: Shop our amazing duty free items. Buy as much as you can carry. Then stuff it into the overhead bins, pushing everyone else’s luggage. We don’t care. Ker-ching!

This article was first published in August 2023 and has been revised and updated.

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