Airport Ugliness


"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the phrase, 'as pretty as an airport.' Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort."
-from The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

I feel increasingly despondent about air-travel. The worst bit is airports. They are hollow, soul-less places. As I stood looking out of a house-sized pane of glass in Caracas airport, I watched the baggage handlers loading up the plane that would take me out of South America. I was watching for my bike, but I happened to notice that about half the suitcases whizzing up the conveyor belt were wrapped in cling-film. Indeed, as I walked in the airport I had been acosted by several people offering their services to wrap up my stuff in cling film. But why? For security, to protect your precious bag, for waterproofing? I don't see how it does any of these things really. This is a fairly new thing, which seems to be popular, but I'm pretty sure it is a swiz. A waste of time, money and, in the end, a lot of cling-film.

Wastefullness is part and parcel of air-travel. The microwaved food comes in disposable containers, with plastic cups and plastic cutlery which can all be ditched. The headphones, to listen to a film on a post-card sized screen on the back of the seat in front, are disposable. The plane itself is burning through who knows how many gallons of fuel, churnning out waste gasses.

I'm in Barcalona now. My bike (she's a hardy thing) and I survived an overnight bus, overnight flight, and overnight train. I will be glad to sleep in a bed that doesn't move.

I will take flights again. I like to travel and, unless I get into sailing in a big way, I will have to put up with air travel as a necessary evil.

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