Travel News

Prisons, hospitals, airports: the places you simply want to leave as soon as possible

Simon Calder’s Travel

I abhor the whole airport experience,” writes Steve M. “What methods do you use, Simon, to make it slightly more bearable?”

For many travellers, airports belong in the same category as prisons and hospitals: the natural desire is to get out as soon as possible. Yet I picked up Steve’s question at Sarajevo airport, where I am shortly to board a Wizz Air flight to Luton, and beg to disagree.

There is something intrinsically good about airports: they extend our horizons and foster international understanding, as well as playing host to infinite human dramas. So I hope I can help Steve learn to love them.

Your timing in reaching the airport is important. I very rarely arrive two hours before departure, which is what passengers are encouraged to do. Either I try to time my run to reach the airport at the last possible moment (allowing a bit of contingency for disruption), typically an hour ahead; or, as today, I allow more than ample time.

When flying transatlantic from Heathrow Terminal 3, for example, I will often take the first Tube from central London (at around 5.30am, arriving at 6.30am) even for an 11am departure. I am fortunate enough to be able to work remotely and, for a travel journalist, an airport is a perfect place to feel the spirit of mobility – and talk to fellow passengers.

Heathrow Terminal 3: a perfect place to feel the spirit of mobility – and talk to fellow passengers


Today, I took an early tram to the stop nearest the airport and a taxi for the final couple of miles. The airport in the Bosnian capital is a fine example of how to make the experience bearable. It is small, modern and lightly used.

Local bureaucracy means everyone has to queue up and get a paper boarding pass, even when travelling with cabin baggage only. But I sat and read The Independent Daily Edition while waiting for the queue to subside, and wandered up to collect the precious document as the last passengers checked in.

By then the security queue and passport line had both subsided. Sarajevo already has the new security scanners that don’t require passengers to remove liquids and laptops from bags, and that hurdle was easily crossed.

Once “airside”, the walk from passport control to the furthest gate is about two minutes. I like to explore airports. At the vast hub that is Dallas-Fort Worth, I found a neglected art gallery…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…