Boarding Gate Bingo

There’s nothing quite like a good bit of people watching at airports, and possibly the most amusing form of this is with a game of boarding gate bingo. Today, it starts with the news that the flight to Washington is completely full, and United staff announcing that they may not be able to accommodate all of our hand luggage. One person volunteers to check their bag into the hold.

Next, news that passengers will be boarded in sequence, and a request for everyone except business class customers to “kindly take a seat”. Thanks to human nature, nobody sits down.

This kind of ritual has always amused me, not least on scheduled flights where even the calmest of cabin crew can get irritated with the herd. As the minutes tick by, more people stand up, glaring at the closed doors before them. Relax, guys, you’re going nowhere until they let you.

Today, though, I’m in for an unexpected full house, thanks to the couple who’ve brought car seats with them. I kid you not. Two car seats, complete with a baby and a young child to go with them. And I hit the jackpot – being seated in the very same row as them. There follows a joyous seven hours as baby number one variously cries, screams and generally does what babies do in enclosed spaces. Then there’s the frequent awkwardness whilst mom leans across my aisle seat and gestures at dad.

Still, we land in Washington on time, just in time for the man in the next row to have a seizure. Actually, after the shaky descent most passengers are on the verge of having some kind of adverse reaction. Once we disembark, immigration is a relatively speedy process. Only then to find out that my onward flight to New Orleans has been delayed by three hours.

It could be a long evening. Stool better than news from back home where East Midlands Airport has been closed for most of the day after heavy snow.

I know where I’d rather be.

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