The Airport Olympics

Queue of Tourists at an Airport Check-In Desk

[Digital Vision.] / [Photodisc] / Thinkstock

Watching the Olympics inspires a certain degree of pride in and appreciation of the superhuman athletic endeavors of our fellow human beings. We’re proud when the athletes from our home country do well, but we’re also in awe of the strength, grace, and agility of all of our
Olympians regardless of where they’re from. However, if you think the Olympic stadium is the only arena where you will see this level of speed, flexibility, and poise under pressure, you haven’t spent enough time in the airport.

Here are a few of our favorite Olympic-worthy events that travelers routinely submit themselves to.

Security Hurdles
Despite this event’s slow start as travelers shuffle through a maze of ropes, the thirty seconds that follow are a desperate flurry of activity as everyone struggles to empty pockets, put laptops in separate bins along with ziplock bags of toiletries, down bottles of water, and remove shoes, belts, jackets, scarves, sunglasses, jewelry, watches, and any other extraneous objects that could raise the ire of airport security. Travelers are judged on their speed, bin juggling skills, exit and entry technique, and ability to maintain a bored and disinterested attitude throughout the entire event. Points are deducted for individuals who set off the metal detector, are subjected to a pat-down, or cause a bin pile-up on the conveyor belt. Carrying toiletries in bottles larger than 3 oz will result in immediate disqualification.

The Overhead Bin Lift
Demanding technique, speed, and brute strength, the overhead bin lift is reserved for travelers who insist on overpacking or feel inspired to assist the little old lady struggling to lift her bag. Participants who elicit heavy sighs from travelers behind them for taking too long, drop bags on small children, are unable to shut the overhead bin, or attract the attention or assistance of a flight attendant will be immediately disqualified.

Seat Gymnastics
Unless you’re fortunate enough to be stuck in the Singapore Changi Airport, stretching out on airport seats for a few hours of sleep requires some mad skills as a contortionist. Participants in this event are judged on their creativity of position, flexibility in moving their body around seat backs and armrests, as well as their resourcefulness in using whatever happens to be in their carry-on to make an impromptu bed. Points are taken away for those travelers who neglect to secure their bags or accidentally drool on the seats.

The Connection Sprint
Take the 800 meter track event. Now, place hundreds of ambling and oblivious travelers onto the track, dress the runners in yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and flip flops, deprive them of sleep for at least twelve hours, and make them carry at least two bags filled with rocks. Tell them if they don’t run the 800 meters in at least two minutes, they’ll miss their flight and will have to spend the night in the airport practicing their seat contortionist skills and waiting for the next available flight.

Baggage Claim Wrestle
Elbows out, feet firmly planted, and eyes trained on the bags tumbling down onto the carousel, securing your bag from baggage claim requires strategy, eagle eyes, and the ability to ruthlessly position yourself in front of the slower travelers who didn’t make it through passport control quickly enough. Points are deducted for knocking small children over, using a baggage cart, and grabbing the wrong luggage.

By Nikki Hodgson