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Airports suit me down to the ground

ONE of the many paradoxes inherent in my make-up is this:

I love airports. I hate flying.

That whole, juddery take-off and landing thing, with the hours of incessant sales pitches from the air crew in between, I can do without. But the preamble to that ordeal still has a whiff of adventure about it. Holidays begin at the airport drop-off. You find your trolley, and locate your inner child.

There are things you do in an airport you would never dream of doing anywhere else. Like ordering, with a clear conscience, a vodka and Coke at 6.30 in the morning (in my case, in transit at Heathrow, en route from New Zealand).

Like having a cooked breakfast an hour before you are due to board a flight,where you know they are going to shove a hot meal down you before you have finished reading in the airline mag about the best beaches for turtles.

Like browsing the duty free shop, and picking up perfume for the wife's Christmas - okay, it's not the one she likes, but it's 30 per cent cheaper than in the high street (not that I ever buy any there). Why do you take leave of your senses as well as terra firma?

I love the camaraderie of airports, too. I will strike up a conversation in a check-in queue I would never dream of having at a bus stop. I still fondly remember an encounter at Gran Canaria Airport, just after the ash cloud chaos in 2010, with a family from Glasgow.

Grandpa seemed a tad on the chubby side. He also looked very, very hot - as, for that matter, did mum, dad and the kids. They cheerfully explained that they had had to spend an extra fortnight in their resort, owing to their flights being cancelled. They were happy with the prolonged break, but had picked up extra gear as a consequence. Determined not to be hit with excess baggage charges, they were wearing a fair amount of their luggage. Grandad was complaining that having to don four T-shirts was a sacrifice too far, but the disrespectful juniors were telling him to pipe down. Class.

The only downer of the airport experience is the security queue, which sometimes feels longer than the flight. Not so long ago, I found myself having to remove watch, belt, shoes and hat. Heck, that's more than I take off at the beach.

The Herald reported yesterday that Edinburgh Airport is experimenting with a new system that should streamline the whole thing, using facial recognition technology. I wish them luck. Anything that gets me airside quicker is to be welcomed. I'm missing my Tie Rack fix.

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Travel

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