Being a longtime expatriate, I consider myself well-versed in making my airport trips as smooth and painless as possible. You know the tricks – pre-book your aisle seat quite close to the exit, and far enough away from the toilet so as not to get nudged by every other passenger on their way to it. Get to the airport in plenty of time, ask the check-in person to please not seat you next to a family carrying infants. Get there in enough time to buy a coffee and sit at the gate sipping it and reading your book in comfort while the rest of the people pointlessly tire themselves queuing at the unopened counter.
On your return trip you make sure your passport is easily to hand and you have one piece of hand luggage under five kilograms and you know your main baggage is within the weight allowance. Perhaps, good traveller, you have even checked in online.
But despite your careful preparation there are always going to be hiccups – because of people with bad travelling manners.
There is a wonderful rule in place on the London Underground that has worked for decades. It is this: if you are walking slowly, or you don't want to climb the escalator, you stand on the right. This means there is a clear channel for the rushed among us to rush along. Simple and perfect. Is it too much to ask that the same rule be applied in airports? I think it must be. Some people, it seems, love spending time in the airport. Whereas you would like nothing better than to end what has been a 10-hour journey by hurrying on your way to the huge queue at customs, your fellow travellers are in no such rush. They treat moving walkways as the perfect place to stop and chat, peruse the advertisements on the wall, and just generally be, right in your way. In fact, I would go as far as to say they relish it. Escalators are worse. Woe betide you if you actually have a limited time to get to your connecting flight from Dubai airport. Because you are in big trouble.
And then you finally make it to the metal detector. Now, after 15 minutes of solid queuing, in front of signs, digital displays and helpful staff instructing you on what you do not need on your person to get through successfully, the person in front of you has somehow not got the message.
This last time I was travelling took the biscuit. A passenger in front of me was wearing a watch and a belt and was carrying a mobile phone. And each time he re-entered this small test of basic intellect, he had the sheer audacity to look perplexed as to what was setting off the detector. For the love of goodness dear man, the answer is metal! Come on! This is not new. This security measure, for your own safety, has been in play for decades!
So I appeal to you all out there who aren't already doing so, please mind your airport p's and q's. Good travelling manners, after all, cost nothing.