Waiting for the plane home

Why is is it so annoying to sit for so long in some airports? In Gatwick, you are simply encouraged to spend as much cash as possible, or drink as much as possible. Here at Berlin's Schoenefeld airport, you have to endure hard plastic seating in a massive corridor, watching other people head - or rush - for their planes.

Arriving too early means less panic and more discomfort, whereas arriving late means a rush and potential embarrassment at your walk of shame to your seat - the last available - on the plane. Worse still, yours will be the name called out over the public address system as the person delaying the closing of the doors.

Mind you, none of that is true here in Berlin. There seems to be no PA system in this corridor and few enough display boards, so the panic is more about ever knowing which gate you have to run towards.

Moments ago, every plastic seat here was occupied and each spare inch of space accommodated a bottom. Now, all I can see is empty seats and the occasional Brit bemusedly looking for somewhere to buy a cup of tea. Clearly, a couple of departures have made it out.

I'm gasping for a drink but, of course, I had to throw away the bottle of water I had bought outside the airport. Heaven forbid anyone should dare to take more than 100ml of liquid onto a plane. No-one seems to have considered that a family of four could have enough liquid between them to probably construct some sort of device of which most of us are completely unaware. Perhaps terrorists don't have families. Maybe they would never travel with them.

There is also an underlying sense that maybe everyone else knows something that I don't. I know I'm early for my flight, but no one else seems to have done similarly.

Every half hour or so, a lull brings the corridor to eerie silence and then the plastic chairs gradually fill up again. I have discovered that Burger King will give out free cups of hot water, to which I can simply add my own (carefully prepared) green tea bag from home. Result!

And now the plane is delayed. Sunday night will be even longer before my head hits my pillow. And soon an air hostess will tell me to turn off all electrical devices. But at least I was able to buy more than 100ml of water to bring with me.

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