"Music for Airports (and other odditites)" Personal Page by ellielou
My 'home' airport, BWI (or the newly named Thurgood Marshall Baltimore Washington International, a nice counterbalance to Reagan National about 35 miles or so down the road) does not have a smoking lounge. Once you go through security (which, at one point, was named as the having the longest lines of all US airports), you, as a smoker, are stuck. There are various options though; you can: a. just not think that you'll be on a flight of X hours in duration where you cannot smoke; b. get over your oral fixation by eating at the chain restaurants that, even by airport standards, are pretty lame; c. bite your nails; or, d. be like me, and break into the nicorette gum you bought to keep you from going mad during your flight.
Having traveled very often in the past few years, I realized that I have spent a unhealthy amount of time thinking about my unhealthy habit when traveling. I wonder, if I have a connecting flight, if there will be time for a smoke, and, indeed, if there even is a smoking lounge.
During my last trip, I realized that I became absolutely fixated on airport smoking lounges. I had a six hour layover in Singapore, and knowing the reputation of that tiny city-state, was mortified that I may not be able to smoke anywhere; luckily, they had the nicest smoking lounges around. (More below.)
I saw my role as having distinct parts. I thought of myself as an ethnographer, noting that while in Asian airports, I was generally the only female hanging in those smokey little chambers. I also thought often about design and ergonomics: was it comfortable enough to want to stick around for another, or was it so oxygen-deprived that lighting up became redundant. And, was it aesthetically pleasing (or not).
As a service to the VT community, and as a way to deal with this growing obsession, I have created these pages....I have also included other airport 'oddities' that I've found amusing...
Light up, and enjoy.
...and you can even smoke outside without going through security!
The Changi International Airport in Singapore is really self-satisfied, never letting you forget that they were voted the best aiport in the world. (I've transfered through Inchon International Aiport twice, and they've signs everywhere about being recently voted the best airport for 'international transit.' I'm not sure what it means, but I know that means definitely not #1.)
This photo is the smoking lounge at about 3 a.m. It's clean--ok, it WAS 3 am--aestheically pleasing, there's an area to smoke outside, without having to go back in through security. It is a winner. I believe them...Changi is really where, as the sign says everywhere, time flies.
I almost felt guilty smoking in this lovely room. But, of course, why let something like this fall into disuse.
For some really terrible reason, I am addicted to Diet Pepsi. At my last job, we had a soda machine, that provided FREE Pepsi products. When I took my job, I didn't care about my above average pay, my Cadillac of benefits package, the fact that I was working a fairly good job in my chosen field, I was excited that I could get free Diet Pepsi whenever I damned well pleased.
I had noticed, when traveling outside the U.S., that diet sodas are not easy to come by. When I have found them, they are called 'light,' and are usually Coca-Cola products. Diet Coke (or Coca-Cola Light) does not do it for me.
I was, therefore, overjoyed that the Noibai Airport (Hanoi) not only had a smoking lounge, but also carried Diet Pepsi (and, it was even called "Diet Pepsi"); I even brought it into the smoking lounge, where I could indulge two addictions at once.
Hanoi is famous for its beef noodle soup, or pho. Being at the airport with plenty of time before my flight, I thought I'd have lunch. I've had the best noodles of my life in Hanoi, on the street in the Old Quarter, and was looking forward to some good--not the best of my life--or at least fairly good noodles.
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I ordered a bowl of noodle soup. and got something packaged, something that I could buy from the really big Korean supermarkets near my home. Luckily, there were the good Vietnamese condiments that did provide me a taste of where I was....in Hanoi.
During this last trip, I was excited about returning to Inchon Airport. I was REALLY excited about a repeat vist to the ladies' room. I couldn't wait, in fact, because I wanted to see if they still had the 'etiquette bell.'
The 'etiquette bell' is decorous and, of course, ladylike....two words, my gentle reader, that have never been used to describe your humble author.
If you haven't figured it out: you press the 'etiquette bell' when you are afraid that, just perhaps, some inelegant sound may just reach some other woman's ears. When this happens, or, actually before this happens, you press the 'etiquette bell' and the sound of gently whirling water surrounds you, masking any unpleasant noise. The sound, in fact, is somewhat like the whirling water sound that occurs when you actually flush the toilet.
If there is a long line of women waiting to use the facilites, well, the 'etiquette bell' may just as easily be called, 'the cruel joke bell.'
Ok. Really. There's nothing at all original one can say about airline food in coach. I did hear something fairly interesting at one point, though, from some airline anayst-type. He said that since the airlines (well, this is in the U.S., and the "legacy carriers") stopped serving food on short and medium haul flights, and charging for what they do serve, people have stopped complaining. Interesting enough....though it probably always made a bit of sense to plan ahead, and bring your own chow.
But, I have had good airline food in coach. I had this lovely meal a few weeks ago, while flying from Inchon to Atlanta. The choices were 'Korean-style lunch," or, if I recall correctly, 'meat and potatoes." My row mate (we wisely figured out how to get the person in the middle seat out!), was Korean, but living in Georgia. She ordered the lunch. It looked good. I ordered it. The flight attendants were a wee bit surprised. Are you sure, they asked more than once. Yes, I'm sure. I spent a month eating unidentifiable stuff in street stalls though Southeast Asia, and you think I'm scared of a little Korean airline food? Please.
Anyway, the entire lunch was a bit more complicated than I initally thought, my luckily my crafty rowmate helped me along. It was good.
Bringing this back around to the theme of this 'personal album,' the food in Inchon Airport was just about the most expensive I've seen anywhere, and, frankly, none of it looked like something I was really hankering to eat at some wee hour in the morning. I was hungry. The food on Korean Air was free (it was really free, since I was flying on an award ticket, as usual) and, beyond edible, it was very good. So good, in fact, that I deemed it the most enjoyable meal I've ever had on an airline (and that even includes the rare times that I've flown in first).
I memorialize it here.
More Personal Pages (3)
Written Mar 14, 2007
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