All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
I’ve always been the kind of person who travels to the airport with at least three hours to spare. I do this for every flight as much as I can, regardless of which airport I’m going to or how long the flight is. I’ve even had to make the journey to the airport separately to my friends. And Hong Kong airport gives me a good excuse for this.
As I type this, I am on a girls’ trip. I arrived at the airport at 6.15am for our 7.55am flight — whereas most of the others got through security probably a good hour after I did.
Everyone makes fun of me for it. “What can you possibly do for hours at the airport?” my friends ask. The Hong Kong airport is a well-oiled engine, they say. There’s simply no need to spare that much time beforehand — because you’ll always get through with time to spare.
Well, I’ll explain why I’m that freak who sits at the airport for hours before my flight. Firstly, I like to make the airport part of my travel experience — even if it’s a work trip.
I like taking my time getting through the crowds at the airport. I like looking at the duty free shops, hunting for bargains. I like browsing the cover lines on trashy Chinese rags before deciding which one I’m going to pick up (RIP Next Magazine). I like looking at the different restaurant options and thinking of what kind of food I want to get (Is it gonna be Tsui Wah? Or Popeyes?) I also have a pass that grants me access to the general lounges, which are good places to grab a drink and catch up on some emails.
Also, I like getting there early to account for any uncertainties through immigration and security (of which, of course, there are rarely any at Hong Kong airport).
But most importantly, I’m probably the most anal-retentive and anxious traveler out there, despite having first flown when I was still in the womb. I hate the unexpected while in transit, and I dislike even more not having the time, or headspace, to prepare for it.
Arriving hours before a flight prevents me from losing my cool completely when something goes wrong. There will always be enough time to deal with any potential sticky situation that might arise. And I’ll get to the gate with plenty of time to spare.
When we set off on our girls’ trip this week, we met up by the gate. Everybody showed up with some 15 minutes to spare before boarding.
“See? Everybody got here OK,” said my friend A. “And how are you the last person to arrive?”
Somehow, I showed up after everyone else did because I had run off to buy a magazine and some water for the flight.
This experience has convinced me to have a change of heart.
I’m about to embark on a month-long trip to Europe this summer. And even though European airports don’t necessarily have the same efficiency as the one in Hong Kong, I’ve decided: I’m willing to get to the airport one two-and-a-half hours prior to takeoff instead of three. Baby steps!
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