Airport Drinking: Rules of Engagement…

Posted by - January 6, 2012 | Category: Library

In any other situation, opting for a beer at 7am while still bleary-eyed is relatively unthinkable, much less socially acceptable, but not at the airport. The airport is different.

After being frisked, frowned and frolicked through the cattle ranch of customs, and with your sensible nature long-since abandoned at check-in, you’re unleashed into the big gleaming jamboree of the airport departure lounge with a pocket full of foreign currency and a mind full of childish indulgence.

Vintage - bartenders at airport bar - black and white

Irrespective of time, duty or company, the combination of excitement, money, and bars will invariably lead to a “why not, I’m on vacation” ethos.

So with temptation far outweighing reason, here are some tips for the inexperienced airport drinker.

Eat. Eat. Eat.

‘Eating is cheating’ is the usual drinking mantra, but bear in mind this isn’t a student party. Dancing, shouting and vomiting can, and will, often be frowned upon by fellow travellers, not to mention airport staff, law enforcement or disgruntled travelling partners.

As soon as possible, you must bite the overpriced bullet and get something to eat from one of the cafes or restaurants before embarking on any serious drinking. $20 might seem like a lot to pay for a bagel, but it’s a small price to retain some sense of dignity.

No post-drink shopping

As sure as death and taxes, a simple fact of life is that drunks like shiny things – which in an airport can be a problem. Duty free liquor, cologne, gadgets, clothing….the glittering bounty of items on offer can dangerously tickle the inner-magpie in any gurgling airport drunk.

Remember that once you board that plane, you won’t be able to return to these shops to get a refund, so the last thing you need is to arrive at your destination only to realise you’ve spent the majority of your vacation budget on an impossibly futuristic cafetiere you’ll never use.

Don’t neglect departure information

This is arguably the most important rule. It goes without saying that no matter how drunk you are, the prospect of being named and shamed over the public address system or missing your flight altogether is a vacation disaster story waiting to happen.

To avoid this, try selecting your drinking location carefully. Many of the bars will be situated near to the boards containing flight information so try to perch yourself somewhere suitable.

Remember to actually check for any updates or information though; the flashing lights of the board in your eye line should help to facilitate this process.

Hand-luggage drink picnic

To many, it’s the fear of hurtling through the air in a big metal tube, to others, it’s the boredom of sitting upright watching a family-friendly Disney film about a down-on-his-luck football coach who eats a magic sausage and wins the Superbowl, but either way the drinking needn’t stop once you’ve boarded the plane.

There is a wide range of miniature liquor bottles available at the airport, so it’s advisable to stock up here to avoid the disapproving gaze of the stewardess as you order your ninth rum.

Airline Stewardess

“I think you’ve had enough, sir” is an unwelcomed sentence at any time, but particularly at 30,000 feet surrounded by disgruntled fellow passengers.

Follow this guide and you will arrive safely at your destination, suitably hung over and ready to waste the start of your vacation sleeping.

Well done you.

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10 comments
  1. I can’t say that I’ve ever indulged in the suds (or wine or spirits) while on a layover. Might have made my eight hours in shit-boring Guangzhou a little more bearable.

  2. The first thing I always do after security is scope the terminal for a bar/restaurant. I’ve got that fear of hurtling through the air in a metal tube, and alcohol is far more helpful than a muscle relaxer. By the way, don’t ever take a muscle relaxer and think you can just ‘rest your eyes’ while waiting. Good nap, but stupid mistake.

  3. I especially appreciate the comment about the $20 airport bagel. I have bought a few of those mostly when traveling on an expense account.

    Some of the most entertaining conversations I have had were in airport bars talking to people who missed their first flight and who thought drinking would be a good way to pass time waiting for their next flight. Beware that good contingency planning disappears after the second double!

  4. Great advice. I tend to at least bring some outside food through security so I have more money for the beer. It was much better when I had a credit card that let me into the lounges around the world–I deliberately arrived extra early for the free food and drinks.
    ChinaMatt recently posted…Peaceful Forest; Busy CityMy Profile

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