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  • Writer's pictureMariska Venter

Airports & Airlines | What you need to know

Updated: May 31, 2020

Airports, where do I start, there is so much to say about airports.

If I had to sum it up into 2 phrases it would be :

- Bitter-sweet feelings

- Best reality TV show

Bitter because you have to say goodbye to loved ones but sweet because you have an adventure that awaits. Bitter because you have to wait around for your flight and say goodbye to comfort for the next 10-15 hours. Sweet because you’re so excited to reach your destination. Bitter when you see all the business class people in their amazing comfortable seats. Sweet because the fact that you even have an economy ticket already makes you one of the privileged people in the world.

I have more bitter than sweet moments on airports. The people who know me well will know that I am usually very kind and don’t get angry or upset, but man, oh man, airports have a way to bring out the worst in me. From losing or breaking my wheelchair, to luggage getting lost etc. My most bitter moment was when I was without luggage and my competition wheelchair for 4 days!

-Best reality TV show because nowhere else in the world do you get a front-row seat on watching and observing the biggest variety of people together at one place- side note - watching other people on airports is probably the one thing you do to make time go by while you are waiting around. You see people in love, heartbroken, scared, angry, crazy, you truly see it all. The most beautiful thing and the special moment I saw at an airport was a little girl playing on the ground with her parents and a few people around looked at her because she was so cute and then all of the sudden she stood up and took her first few steps right there in front of everyone, her parents were crying and we all started cheering for her while she was loving all the attention.

Just like I said earlier, I have more bitter than sweet moments. But I’ve also experienced more crazy moments! This particular time was in the early morning hours and everyone at the airport was waiting for their connecting flights and laying around trying to sleep. I got myself a couch and just as I started to settle, a random woman came to me and started talking to me in her own language. I was very calm and polite and just said sorry I don’t understand you. But she did not care and she just kept talking and getting closer to my face. I asked her three times politely to leave me alone and she still did not, so I picked up my things to leave and when I wanted to leave she grabbed me and did not let me go and I screamed at her and eventually people around started helping me get the women off me. I did not stay to find out what she wanted I just left as fast as possible, I think she wanted to pray for me because she went on her knees. But she was way too aggressive and it freaked me out completely.

Airports you should try to avoid

(In my experience)

- Paris Charles De Gaulle

If you are connecting through Paris, there is a 70% chance your luggage won’t be at your final destination. Somehow your luggage always stays in Paris and don’t get put on to your next flight. Also if you are English don’t expect to get good customer service from the airport. They tend to not care about your situation and won’t do much to help you.

- London Heathrow

They have the worst wheelchair assistant service in the world and the airport is always chaotic and way too small and complex for the amount of people that go through it.

My top Airports

- Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar)

- Dubai International Airport (Dubai)

- Istanbul International Airport (Turkey)

All of them are new, very big and beautiful airports with great service.

A few things you should take note of when going to an airport :

1) Patience is a virtue – the fact is, nothing you do will make the lines go quicker or make the flights be on time, so all you can do is stay relaxed and wait. You will eventually find your seat and be on your way.

2) Entertainment- make sure you have good music, a book, or work, or anything to help you pass time, because the waiting game can be really long some times.

3) Triple check method- No not over exaggerating this, sometimes your eyes can play games with you, so always make sure you check your flight times and dates and gate number and always check the boards, because your gate can change, make sure you have your passports and tickets. Don’t just check once, but check frequently. The last thing you want is to miss your flight or lose your passport.

4) Follow the signs– airports are big and overwhelming especially when you are not familiar with it, just keep your eye on the signs and boards. Usually it will guide you exactly where you should be, but if you still are unsure or confused, never be afraid or shy to ask someone on the airport where you should go or what you should do. They will always help you.

5) Refresh and feel Good – Pack an extra outfit and things that will help keep you feeling clean and fresh. When you have to take a few long flights all you want is a shower and a bed. But not having either of those two you can still brush your teeth and wash your face and put on deodorant and new clothes. Feeling fresh makes you feel good and gets you ready for the next long flight. Also, no one wants to sit next to someone who smells funny.

My top Airlines

- Qatar Airlines

- Emirates

- Lufthansa

By far the best airlines guaranteed to have the best possible flight with good service, good food, and good pilots.

A few things you should know about your flight

1) Comfy clothes are key- You are about to be sitting very uncomfortably for a long period of time, so the last thing you want is uncomfortable clothing.

2) It gets Cold up there- Make sure you pack your favourite hoody and warm socks. It gets really cold in the flights and the tiny blanket they give you doesn’t really help.

3) Get the best seat – Window seat hands down is the best seat because you have your own private side and extra space, you can sleep on the window and of course admire the view.

Worst seat- Aisle seats, even if you want to sit in the aisle because you have long legs you won’t be able to put your legs out or even your shoulders they will ram you with the trolleys and people will keep knocking you as they pass through the aisle, if you have long legs the best spot for you is the emergency exit row where there is extra legroom.

4) Stop that Jetlag – To help with jetlag try sleeping on the flight as much as possible and also drink a lot of water and move around if you can and do some stretches to keep your blood flow going.

5) Introduce yourself – Say hello to the person next to you it will immediately take the awkwardness away and you are probably going to ask them to get up during the flight so you can go to the bathroom. So it’s better to get familiar with each other from the start. And if you want them to stop talking to you just put in your earphones and watch a movie- subtle moves is key.

So to summarize, airports and airlines will test you in many ways, but at the end of the day, you should be grateful because not many people can afford to fly around the world.

- Keep shining!

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