There are a number of factors taken into consideration when travelling abroad. Age, budget, going with family or friends, ability to handle the sun and level of pretentiousness being just a few. Above all, in an effort to get away from it all and unwind, you want to be confident that wherever you are going will be full of people just like you.
If you are piling off to Kavos on an 18-30 holiday with the lads, you don’t want to be surrounded by pensioners asking when the bingo is on. Similarly, if you are fond of regaling your long suffering children with your in-depth knowledge of Greek mythology whilst forcing them to eat vine leaves in a cafe only the locals know of, you don’t want some fat bloke from Barnsley asking if they sell John Smiths.
Unfortunately life is shit and wherever you go, there will be people to annoy you.
Here is my handy little guide on how not to be that annoying cretin.
Airport check in.
I don’t like airports. They are a necessary evil to get you to where you need to be but they bookend your holiday to remind you that no matter how much you think your life is your own whilst jetting off, The Man is still in control.
They are series of little tests; obstacles that you have to overcome before you can enjoy yourself.
I’m going to assume that you have got to the correct airport at the right time on the right day. I realise that some people can’t manage that but the only advice I can give them is to hand themselves into social services at the earliest convenience.
First challenge is check in. We’ll ignore automated check ins for now and concentrate on good old fashioned ones where you speak to people, we need to walk before we can run.
There will be a queue, this is inevitable. Queuing is simple. You stand in a queue, the person at the front gets seen to, everyone in the queue moves up one. This dynamic never changes. Squeezing yourself closer to the woman in front will not make the queue move any faster, it will just move you into the queue for sexual assault charges.
Queues are long for a reason. Along with the holidaymakers there are also people employed by holiday companies just to stand in queues to make their holidays appear more popular. There are also people employed by news channels who are ready to be interviewed at the drop of a French air traffic controller’s striking hat. They will have elaborate tales of men missing their weddings and women missing the birth of their first child because of some delay or other.
Once at the front of the queue, there is a simple interaction. Hand over your passport and ticket and your suitcase. If you don’t have your passport and ticket handy, quite frankly you are a simpleton. You’ve been stood in a queue for hours, was it too much to ask for you to be prepared?
There are weight restrictions on luggage, don’t try and bypass them by squeezing in essentials like wellies, cans of beans or your mother. You’ll make no friends if the rest of the queue is delayed whilst you remove a woolly jumper and a duffle coat from your case and put them on for your flight to Ibiza just to reduce the weight.
When asked if you packed your own luggage the only possible answer is ‘yes’. Do not under any circumstances attempt to be witty, clever or insightful. Similar to when asked if you’ve enjoyed your meal in a restaurant, nobody gives a shit whether you have or not but to say anything other than ‘yes’ is a monumental clart on for everyone.
Once you are past check in, the real test begins. Security.
Again, you are going to have to queue. Try and help everybody else in the queue by watching what is going on and planning ahead. Remove your jacket and your belt. If you are sporting a pair of eighteen hole Dr Martyn’s, start loosening the laces now. It all helps.
Remove everything metallic from your person. Money, jewellery, piercings, the metal plate that replaced your brain etc.
Follow instructions at all times and don’t attempt ‘banter’, the one thing you will learn about security in airports is that they aren’t interested in negotiations. They don’t care that your Rambo knife was a present from your Gran or that the litre bottle of water is Holy Water from Lourdes; hand it over and accept that it is lost forever.
I realise that terrorism is used as the excuse for excessive security in airports but surely we could come to some sort of arrangement with ISIS and the like to bring the queues down. Every second idiot wearing a novelty t shirt or gravy stained football top is taken outside and shot, something like that.
In the unlikely event that you make it through security alive, you have reached the Holy Grail of Facebook holidayers, the Departure Lounge. More on that next time.