I have been doing a lot of traveling lately...domestically and internationally. Everyone asks me how I do it, constantly being on the go and up and down and up and down on airplanes. Just in the last two weeks I've been to Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Miami, and of course my home in New York. Hello frequent flyer miles!
Truthfully, it doesn't really bother me, but even I started to wonder why.
And then it struck me...
...I love airports.
Part of it is that I love looking at architecture and some airports are an amazing reflection of ingenuity and design. Others, not so much. But for me, every airport is like an adventure. Airports are entertainment, they're a study in psychology, and they're a cultural mecca representing each city and region.
First of all, the crowd is completely different in every airport I visit. You really can get a feel for the local flair, just based on the people you see at the airport. Sure there are business travelers and tourists from other places there too, but you can definitely get a sense of what people are like in the area. Watching the fashions, the hairstyles, and the mannerisms from airport to airport is like watching a different movie about every location.
Secondly, everyone is moving and going someplace. Everyone. Whether for work or play, whenever people are in motion they are basically at their best. Most people are just generally happy that they are on their way to their destination. It's especially fun to watch the vacationers going away for a break. They are definitely the happiest people at the airport, and it makes me smile every time. Seeing all the students in Europe this summer as I made my way through business in Italy, Spain, and the UK was especially motivating. I remember those days when I was doing student travel myself!
Sure, there's stress in travel, which brings me to the third reason why I like airports so much. It's a constantly changing observation in human behavior and in customer service. Watching people navigate their trip, for the good and the bad, and watching those in the service industry cope with their customers is nothing short of fascinating.
I watch the customer service people who are exceptionally good at it, and I learn from it. I also watch the people who fall quickly into traps, and I learn from it too. It is eye opening, especially for someone who is in a service industry myself.
Learning through observation is one of the best forms, I do believe, so I embrace it. I'm also entertained in the process and can even pick up a fashion tip now and then. Not too bad.
I should write an entire book about it. Hey, maybe I will!