Something deeply upsetting is knitting itself through the furrowed brows of government officials and airport security: a crack down on airport drinking to minimise airport drunkenness. Travellers’ rights are being pissed on by those who can’t get drunk without punching someone or coming onto an air-hostess, and airports will limply sag into somber, sullen shells of their former selves. Passengers will drift mournfully from Haldiram’s to KFC, listless, bored and sober – the one happy moment being ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ offer on aftershaves or a discounted travel pillow. God help us.
Most airport drinkers are not the problem here. Most airport drinkers sit sensibly at a bar or in a pub and order a couple of bottles of beer over a period of an hour, feel warm and gleeful, lose their luggage, swap passports to see if security notice (they won’t), buy some impulse flip-flops and once on the plane, find something endlessly amusing to whisper about a fellow passenger and order a few more beers before dozing off for the last twenty minutes of the flight. And that’s a wrap. Harmless, slightly pointless, but satisfying.
So why, must drunken louts overstep, so needlessly, this perfect drunken balance most of us so effortlessly achieve? Yes, stags, grown men wearing fancy dress and I Love Goa T-shirts, we’re looking at you.
So let’s start with some ground rules, so you can stop ruining our lives with your excess, and we can all carry on being blissfully drunk:
1. Do not drink in the coach or taxi to the airport.
This is far too long a stint to drink. One and a half hours before departure is the limit. Or else you’ll hit a wall just before the gate opens and you’ll double your dose to break past it and then it all goes tits up from there. Timing is everything.
2. Do not gorge yourself on all the free shots of spirits as you go through the perfume section of Duty Free.
You DO. NOT. NEED. TO TAKE EVERYTHING THAT IS FREE.
3. Do not bring a hip flask.
You are not sneaking into NH7’s main stage.
4. Do not order shots.
It’s like announcing via loud speaker, “I am purposefully getting drunk for this flight. I am putting in a huge amount of effort, merely to be drunk for this flight.” It’s unbelievably tragic.
5. Do not try and befriend an air hostess on board.
She will hate you, we will hate you, and you will hate yourself when she ignores you.
6. Do not drink your own alcohol from duty free on board.
Swigging from a Jack Daniels bottle concealed in a your in-flight blanket? So tacky.
7. Do not group sing on board, or anywhere in the airport (or in public, ever).
You’re not at the back of a bus aged 14, you are grown men on a plane. You find it hilarious, we hate you.
8. Do not cheer on board.
Yes, your friend may have just earn’t himself three lad points in a row, but we are not at a football match. (And let’s not even get started on the very concept of “lad points”…)
9. Do not binge drink.
A few glasses pre-board, two doubles on board, and you are drunk. Don’t try and deny it, you are. Yes.You.Are.
10. And the golden rule…
Drunk or not drunk, do not clap when you touch down.
Got it? Good, because airport drinking is a wonderful, wonderful thing – let’s not ruin it.
More luxurious than a five-star hotel, more entertaining than an amusement park.
Changi International Airport, Singapore
Inside Singapore’s Changi, you’ll find rooftop swimming pools, massage parlours, rooftop beer bars, video games lounges, a horticulture paradise with five themed gardens (one of them home to more than a thousand butterflies), a free 24-hour movie theatre, fish pedicures, free Xbox and PlayStation game consoles, a post office, and food courts worthy of a Michelin star. Plus, a four-storey tall, giant corkscrew slide. Which pretty much explains why it’s been voted the best airport in the world four consecutive times since 2012.
Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea
Incheon not only offers the world’s best air services, but also the best duty free shopping on the planet. It was here that fashion power house Louis Vuitton choose to house its first ever airport store in 2011, years before it started cropping up in Europe. With six floors (covering over 496,000 square metres of floor space) and an annual passenger traffic of over 50 million, it’s easy to overlook some of the airport’s tricked-out (and often hidden) venues and amenities. Burn off those holiday calories at the 18-hole golf course or sign up for a golf lesson at the driving range during your layover. Too lazy for the outdoors? Practice your barrelling and big lick at the 24-hour casino, flip-jump on the ice skating rink, indulge in a royal pampering at the spa, rescue your wrinkled jacket at the dry cleaners, or get your zen on in the bamboo garden.
Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
Doha’s Hamad International is, hands down, the most blinged-out airport in the world. Expect to be treated like a Qatari king inside the $15 billion project. which opened in 2014. The oil-rich country pretty much splashed out its petrodollars to make its airport worth paying attention to. Past the security check, is a hotel with a futuristic 25-metre long indoor pool, two squash courts, a state-of-the-art gym (with a trainer on call), hot tubs and more.
And game rooms (with vintage pinball machines, and the latest consoles), a playroom with a full-size Formula One car, an internal railway system that ferries you to 80 of its high-end boutiques including Harrod’s, Chanel, Armani, Bulgari, Tiffany, Hermès and more. Hamad’s so tricked-out you won’t believe it’s an airport. And that’s not all; the halls of the airport house some of the world’s prime artworks (the kinds that make deep-pocketed art collectors salivate) and the show-stopper — a duty free luxury gold parlour called the Au Gold Boutique. Only in Doha.
Vantaa International, Helsinki Finland
Known around the world for its art collection and modern sculptures, Finland’s Helsinki airport is home to Finnair’s amazingly indulgent lounge. It also happens to be one of the only airports in the world where you can strip down to nothing (past security) , and not get arrested for it. Aside from straight out of The Jetsons decor with its retro egg-shaped chairs and its free art-house cinema, the airport is equipped with a sprawling 4400 sq ft “bath”, to be enjoyed… naked. The towel optional setting might just get you a chance to get to know that hot blonde in 1C better.
Hong Kong International Airport
What makes Hong Kong’s scenic, ocean-edge airport the fifth best in the world? Aside from its breathtaking aerial views, chart-topping customer satisfaction ratings and its airport express train, it has one of the industry’s best amenities, including a nine-hole USGA-approved Sky City Nine Eagles Gold Course (with a clubhouse, pro shop and putting greens) with flood lights, and a free 24-hour IMAX cinema — one of the largest in the continent.
Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Schiphzl may not be the only airport in the world that features its own museum, but it was the first. The city’s famed Rijksmuseum, the national museum devoted to Dutch art and history, has an annex at the terminal where entry is free year around.
Schiphzl also houses the infamous The Back To Life oxygen bar that offers you a heady 15-minute dose of flavoured oxygen which you can breathe in through a tiny tube while you prep for your early morning meeting. It may not guarantee you a safe landing, but at least you’ll have great skin as you plunge 50,000 feet to your death.