A Guide To Getting Drunk And Making Friends In An Airport
Few things in this life are worse than traveling by air. At its most basic level, there is trying to get through the airport and tracking down the appropriate terminal; there’s waiting in long lines with smelly people for tickets and baggage check, not to mention enduring a borderline proctology exam to be cleared by TSA at the security checkpoint. But it is beyond the ex-ray machines and droves of people trying to put their shoes back on when the real adventure begins.
This is the point when the traveler is finally unleashed into the bizarre world of airport living – a place that is seemingly designed to steal people’s money with overpriced merchandise and lousy food. It’s kind of like hanging around the mall back when you were a teenager, only with jumbo commercial jets outside blasting off every few minutes or so. And, if we’re honest, it’s not so bad if you are just passing through.
But in the event of a long layover, one that is five hours or more, the airport is a place where the average person might feel a great sense of dread and despair. It can be deep enough, even, to drive someone to drink. And fuck it, they probably should.
It makes all the sense in the world that a good stiff cocktail or two is essential to getting through a lengthy stay in this traveler’s purgatory. It’s either that or stay sober and hang out with all of the screaming babies and people coughing up sicknesses that rival the coming of the apocalypse.
Hell, the airport bar is a damn good friend to the weary traveler who, among other things, is trying to find a trapdoor out of this madness. It’s also for those of us who don’t feel like handing over $30 to Hudson News to read some cut-rate bestselling author who makes us want to slit our wrists.
But getting buzzed up at an airport takes a little finesse, especially when a layover (or a series thereof) promises to keep a man in the system for an eternity. And while getting drunk in an airport is certainly easy to do, it takes endurance to do that shit right without falling apart at the seams.
First thing’s first, before you step inside any old airport lounge, you’re going to need to get your story straight. Sure, in real life, you might be a traveling salesman who earns his living slinging toilet seats to hotel chains, but you don’t have to be that guy in an airport bar. As long as you are paying for drinks in cash, you don’t even have to be you.
A person can take on any identity he wants since chances are the people he meets along the way, and he’ll meet a few, will never be seen again.
Be a writer who just signed a million-dollar book deal; a stuntman, or a porn star on his way to a scene. Whatever the hell you feel like becoming, an airport bar is the place to try it on for size. Anything goes here, and coming up with a fun cover story is not only harmless tomfoolery, but it will also help you pass some time while you decide which one of the watering holes are best suited to your particular brand of hellraising. Just avoid the restaurants, if at all possible.
Food is death.
It is essential to understand that airport bars are not like the drinking establishments you might frequent back home. In a lot of ways, they are better. The patrons are sort of on a level playing field in these places, and most folks are just like everyone else in the way that they are trying to drink themselves into a stupor that allows their trip to be more tolerable.
People are typically friendlier in an airport bar, and it’s easy to make new friends as long as the conversation is kept light. Absolutely, not a word of anything related to politics or religion. Only sports, shop talk and swapping horror stories of each other’s travels is acceptable conversation in these situations.
The only downside to drinking in an airport bar is it takes a bit of a bankroll to do it for extended periods without going broke.
On my most recent visit to LAX’s Loteria Grill, a 19oz. can of Lagunitas IPA was around $10 with tax. They also had a special going where I could add a shot of any liquor I wanted for $7 more. But $17 isn’t a bad way to get started on an airport bender, so take advantage of these deals. Always understand that you’ll have to sell your soul to the dark lord Satan himself to afford a Bloody Mary and most other cocktails.
It’s nothing for these beverages to start at $15 or more. For the traveler who plans to ride a barstool in one of these spots for hours while waiting to board his flight, the cost can be steep. Just consider it an investment in your sanity.
Dropping $100 in an airport bar is a small price to pay to escape the lunatics in the terminal who are perfectly content with an internet connection and fucking Whirlybird.
Now, if you only have a three-hour layover and you’re next stop is home, it’s perfectly acceptable to hammer down on the booze. Live it up, rockstar! But if you’re stuck in the airport for five hours or more and your next stop is a connection that includes another layover of an hour or two, you are going to need to pace yourself to see it through to the end.
You don’t want to drop out of the sky into the next city with Homeland Security ready to drag your ass to jail for getting too rowdy on the plane. No, just maintaining a nice buzz that doesn’t hit the mark where civility goes south is the way to go.
In some cases, those bastards at the gate won’t even let you board the plane if they suspect you’ve had too much to drink. We’d advise keeping a low profile, popping a couple of Altoids, and just focusing on getting on the plane and to where you are going. After all, spending another several hours in an airport waiting to sober up is never a comfortable experience.
But that’s not going to happen unless you are acting like an imbecile.
Fortunately, there is more booze on the plane, so it’s not like you have to stop drinking once you leave the airport bar. But when it comes time to order drinks on the flight, you’re going to want to get two or three. As many as they will let you, really. Unless you are flying first class, the flight attendants are probably not going to make it around to you again once you run dry.
The goal here is to maintain a nice, happy drunk that can be maintained until you reach the end of the line.
Preferably without pissing yourself.
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