Waiting For A Plane VII – Ataturk Airport

I was traveling for a couple of weeks last month. I spent a lot of time in airports. In each one I had time on my hands. As a result I wrote at least one post in each of the airports, which am posting from time to time, interspersed with some other thoughts.

Any flight that can be described as uneventful is a good one. When you are 8,000 metres or more above the planet the last thing you want is something eventful happening.

The flight from Basel to Istanbul was uneventful. Taxiing from the runway to the terminal to the runway, not quite as much. Strange things can happen on planes, though usually not the flights I am on. Tonight though was a bit different.

Shortly after the wheels hit the tarmac a male passenger a couple of rows back began shouting. Into a cell phone I assume, though he should not have had his phone on at that point. I don’t know what the fuss was about – sounded to me like Turkish or Arabic, two languages I don’t understand.

After he finished his phone call he got up, removed his bag from the overhead compartment and headed for the front of the plane. I could see the “fasten seatbelt” sign still lit, the plane still taxiing to the unloading point.

I wish I understood the words. The body language was “stop the plane right now so I can hop off.” What he would have done then I don’t know – probably would have been run over by a Boeing 747. We had a fair distance still to go, and our plane wasn’t going to the terminal but to the parking lot. I understand the airport fees are lower for flights that do that. I don’t know what the flight attendant said. At least she spoke the same language. He eventually returned to his seat and left when the rest of us did. He was probably lucky, given the security conscious times we live in, that there was no air marshal wrestling him to the floor and arresting him.

As we got off the plane and headed for the bus to take us to the security checkpoint, my friend warned me it could take a while. He said the last time he was at Ataturk there were 2,000 people in line in front of him. Took him more than an hour to get through.

We were the second busload from our plane. I think the first busload must have been hijacked, and maybe all other recent arrivals also, because there was no line at security. There were no people there at all except for the screening machine attendants. We waltzed right through in a minute; then a long line began to form behind us. I have no idea where those people were earlier.

I certainly wasn’t going to complain.
Istanbul – May 23, 10 pm


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