Make no bones about it: flying is not a fun endeavor. It's not so much the actual flying that's such a drag as it is the airport part. Sitting in traffic hoping you'll get to the airport in time, fumbling with the self-check-in machines with touch screens that never seem to work unless you're practically punching them, standing in the slowest lane of a never-ending security line ... quite frankly, by the time most people get to their gate it's no surprise a good portion of them are grumpsters.
But what if you could make a game out of the entire experience? What if, instead of a nuisance, the person hogging all the outlets at a charging station was actually a point on your scorecard?
Introducing the IndependentTraveler.com Airport Scavenger Hunt, in which we lighten up the airport mood by turning all your irritating, inconsiderate, funny or foolish fellow travelers into game pieces. We readily admit it: the guy hogging the outlets isn't going to get any less annoying, but at least you can smile about him when you tick him off your list. And if you're playing with your travel mates, his presence may actually be the point you need to win the game. (We advise raising the stakes by adding a prize into the mix!)
Surprisingly, it's not as easy as it seems. On my last long-haul flight to Asia, I managed to score a measly three points (I spotted an old woman using a carry-on bag to keep the seat next to her empty, plus a young gal repacking her suitcase at the check-in desk because her bag was too heavy).
How many points can you get on your next flight? The maximum score is 50 (not including the Alec Baldwin bonus).
Easy (1 point)
- Someone trying to explain to a TSA agent why there's a larger-than-3.4-ounces bottle of shampoo/conditioner/moisturizer in his or her carry-on bag.
- Someone throwing away a bottle of water or newly bought cup of coffee at the TSA checkpoint (get an extra two points if the person is chugging the water or coffee in order not to waste it, or three points if it's alcohol).
- One person using all the outlets at a charging station for his or her multiple devices.
- The traveler pretending not to know English in order to board the flight before his or her zone is called.
- Someone with a carry-on bag on the chair next to him or her in the waiting area to discourage anyone else from sitting there.
- The vacationer in shorts departing a warm-weather destination for a cold-weather one.
- Someone in a later zone blocking the gate entrance so passengers in earlier zones can't board.
- The well-dressed business traveler with just a briefcase who is on a cell phone every minute before takeoff.
- The couple standing on both sides of the moving walkway, preventing anyone else from passing them.
Medium (2 points)
- A woman trying on eye shadow, nail polish or perfume at a duty-free shop.
- A gate attendant pretending he or she doesn't see the person waiting at the desk to ask a question.
- Someone near the check-in desk repacking a suitcase and redistributing items because the bag is too heavy.
- A rowdy school/church group that you hope isn't on your flight.
- An argument at the ticket counter (add an extra two points if the gate agent is actually remaining friendly and trying to help).
- A small child with a character-themed suitcase/backpack.
Hard (3 points)
- A kid standing on the baggage claim conveyer belt (get an extra point if the kid has actually gone for a ride on it).
- A person fumbling with multiple coins and currencies while trying to pay at a shop or restaurant.
- The backpackers who have clearly been traveling for months and may or may not have dreads (an extra point for dreads).
- The person who arrives late to the airport and begins asking everyone if he or she can cut the line in order to make it to the gate in time.
- The honeymooners (or soon-to-be-married couple) wearing bride and groom apparel.
- Sports team members wearing matching uniforms.
- Someone changing in a bathroom stall (an extra point if he or she uses the sink for face washing or tooth brushing).
Bonus: 10 points for spotting Alec Baldwin playing "Words with Friends."
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--written by Dori Saltzman