I used to be “that guy,” the one that breezed through the plane door minutes before it closed. Not that I was running late, but because I would time my entrance to reduce the amount of idle time spent sitting aimlessly in front of an airport gate. I’d become proficient enough at traveling that I could rearrange an overhead bin with one hand while using the other to contort my rollaboard into molecules of space.
However, in my current role, I often don’t book my own travel. And in the wisdom of corporate travel, they book me on flights with two-hour cushions. Needless to say, in the past year, I’ve become more familiar with ORD, SFO, LGA, etc.
And I realized, I LOVE hanging out in airports.
First and foremost, you simply can’t beat the people watching. Moms traveling on their own, loaded down with baby and baggage, consultants who travel 70% of the time who have airport security screenings down to a science, elderly couples finally indulging in wanderlust. Travel encompasses a wonderful, mixed demographic.
And then, you have the food. As a foodie, this came completely as a surprise to me. I hated the idea of airport food. You’re rushed, it’s expensive, it’s totally about the plastic fork and flimsy napkin.
Boy, was I wrong. What I didn’t realize was that airports like to showcase their regional restaurants. Chickie’s & Pete’s in Philadelphia, Boudin in San Francisco, Manny’s in Chicago, Legal Seafood in Boston. Sure, you pay a premium, but you’re also not paying for the cab to and from the hotel, and after a long day of back to back meetings, there’s nothing better than finding the two-top right next to an electrical outlet.
So the next time you have a flight, arrive a couple hours early and do a crawl of local cuisine through the airport.