Weird passenger ‘perversion’

I’m one of those boring travellers who follows the old edict that you should arrive three hours before an international flight and an hour before a domestic flight.

I’ve learnt from experience that the worst way to start your holiday or work trip is under the stress of missing a flight. Besides, I’m one of those strange people who actually likes airports.

And while arriving early for a flight may not be a ‘revelation’ to you, what may be are the ultra-weird people who purposely try to cut it close to missing their flights.

Seems some people like to fly by the seat of their pants and get a rush by showing up to their gate at the very last minute, says The Atlantic.

Why? The Atlantic believes there are two types of flyers: early ones and late ones. Obviously, I’m in the former category. And, in all fairness, there are, as The Atlantic points out, “some chronically late people do, of course, intend to be on time”, but there are some ‘sickoes’ who live for the drama of running for a flight, with hundreds, sometimes more, at risk. It’s akin to high-stakes poker for perverted passengers.

“I just really live for the feeling of literally running through the airport barefoot because you didn’t have time to put your shoes on after security, and your laptop is in your hand because you didn’t have time to put it back,” said Ellen Cushing, senior editor at The Atlantic.

Tim Herrera, an editor at The New York Times, gets a kick out of tweeting his late-arriving habits.

“Tweeting about it is kind of fun and adds some drama,” he told The Atlantic, seemingly proud to offer a sample of his lunacy.

“On my way to the airport. Flight’s at 2:45, boards at 2:20, my Lyft’s ETA at the airport is 1:48,” he recently tweeted. “Feel like I haven’t been this early for a flight in years tbqh, might stop for a snack on the way.”

What type of person does this? According to Jonny Gerkin, a psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina, both airport arrival styles may be different ways of approaching the extreme anxiety of air travel.

“One person is hyper-efficient and overprepared, and another is someone who doesn’t manage their anxiety that way,” she said.

“They distract and procrastinate, and next thing you know, they can’t do what they need to do to get there on time. It’s not quite self-harm, but it’s in the same arena. It changes your feeling state and gets you out of that place that’s uncomfortable and into this place of excitement.”

Other reasons why people take these types of risks aren’t quite clear.

Columbia University psychologist, Elke Weber, says a person’s tendency to risk in a certain category depends on “how much he or she expects to benefit from the outcome”.

The Atlantic says that benefit might be excitement, adrenaline, a method of coping with stress (strangely enough).

Or it could be to do with personality type (or a personality disorder!). Organisational psychologist Jeffrey Conte told The Atlantic that ‘Type A’ people (organised, ambitious, but impatient and more neurotic) people are generally early to arrive and ‘Type B’ people (more relaxed, less neurotic, but also less ambitious and punctual) tend to chronically arrive late.

Have you ever purposely tried to cut it close to missing a flight? Do you know anyone who would? Does this strike you as rather ‘weird’?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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