I worked in Manchester airport from the age of 18 – 22 those 4 years were hilarious but I just need my sleep; waking up at mad o’clock just wasn’t the life for me anymore.
The stories I could tell you about people would fill a whole book. This blog post will be a poorly structured insight into the everyday operation of an airport.
Firstly, when I joined the airport I worked for Travelex which is the foreign currency exchange used in Manchester. I worked on the desks selling the currency. It was tedious and the 3am starts and 11 hour shifts ruined my life. My decision to leave was inevitable.
I did meet two of my greatest friends working at Travelex (Hey Becky, Hey Anna) and we had some funny times working in the airport like face timing from different terminals on Christmas day, eating our dinners mums had packed us (that is the life).
I later moved over to the Travelex banking room where Anna followed me because she couldn’t be without my crazy head. It was a sweaty office consisting of huge safes, 5 desks and 5 computers, and windows which weren’t allowed to be open which were smaller than the ones you’d get in a prison cell.
I then moved to work on Emirates, where I met some more great friends. Those cream suits and that red lipstick looked way better on pictures (think period and cream suits, red stained teeth – nightmare!) and later American Airlines; where I met my newbie gang (you know who you are!)
So firstly I am TELLING you the shit you see at an airport is the weirdest you’ll see in your life. But I can’t even find the words to describe the extent of weirdness.
On a plus, you’ll make friends for life because you share an interest of no sleep, no social life, and never being able to hold down a relationship because of your work hours. Isn’t that what you’ve always dreamed of?
So my favourite and most told story is when I was on Emirates working the check-in desk. It goes a little like this…
So I am checking in some man; business suit, business class, he’s refusing to make eye contact, busy on his phone – smart / stuck-up guy you know the type I’m on about here. So he pops this posh designer suitcase on my belt and it is VIBRATING, like really vibrating this isn’t some toothbrush vibration this is something much bigger than a toothbrush.
So how do I even address this guy? I can’t send it down my belt vibrating as security will have a field day.
So here’s me is trying to get the attention of this man without other customers noticing, the girl next to me is CRYING actual tears and I’m trying to stay professional here .. ‘urm excuse me Sir I think your bag is buzzing a little bit’ this guy as calm as ever is like ‘it’s all good just send it – the battery will soon die’.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME
‘The battery will die’ is his only response. How about open the bag and take your god damn vibrator battery’s out and get the fuck outta here. The laughter I had to contain checking in this passenger was something else! I can only imagine what was inside and my face told it all.
What passengers may not even realize is that staff members have to undergo the same tight security measures and checks as those booked on a commercial flight! So, you think going on holiday is a nightmare? Ha! Try going through that 4 times per shift with the absolute job worth’s that are airport security inspecting all your items you’ve took through a million times before.
As a result, I would carry my liquids in a clear plastic bag even on my days off; it becomes second nature. But least now whenever I go on holiday I’m the security whizz.
Over weight baggage on any airline is always going to happen; even Emirates where they allow 30kg each!
Do you ever wonder why? Is it the excess amount of clothes? Shoes? Vibrators? Personal items? Presents for family? Surprisingly not. Most the time its food they can’t get in another country and they think it’s a great idea to pack inside of their suitcases.
I had one women whose case was FULL of fudge, I mean 37kg of fudge – no clothes. I don’t know what she would have done when she landed in Chicago but I can’t imagine fudge being a good alternative to a spare pair of knickers.
I had another guy who packed a full donner meat, the whole fucking thing. You know when you go to a takeaway and its spinning on that pole, yes that whole thing. Not a bit or a kebab… the whole donner! It was oozing from the sides; resembling only what I can describe, as elephant shit. Where is the logic? (never mind the health and safety standards.
I had a lady who had a bag full of fresh fish. That smell was horrific. I mean I couldn’t even question what was in it. I was sending that bag down and off my belt straight away! After the bag had passed through the belt, the smell lingered for a good 20 minutes afterwards. It was also clearly the gift that kept on giving; the watery residue from her luggage was lying waiting on my belt for the next passengers suitcases to get covered in it – the finest customer service.
This wasn’t on the check in desks but when I was actually boarding the flight I get this radio call off the dispatcher to do a customer name call – course, not out of the ordinary this was regular that people would go missing from check-in to boarding.
The dispatcher comes up stairs with a WET suitcase that was LEAKING brown sludge, it was like a river. The customer came along, opened the suitcase. It was completley full to the brim with lunchboxes of homemade curry his wife had made him. She didn’t trust in her husband’s ability to fend for himself it seems. Unfortunately, the gentleman was relieved of his food.
Like I said I could write a book. From people with the wrong passports, drunk passengers, people weeing themselves in the check-in queue because they refuse to queue up again, people forgetting their suitcases in their taxi’s or at home, turning up late for flights and then screaming at you like it’s your fault they didn’t get there on time. I saw some shit, and received some too. However, if you do not laugh, you cry!
Despite all of the above, somehow, it was all worthwhile.
The 2am alarm clocks, the cream suits, the 30 minute bus from the staff car park, the bitchy passengers, the red stained teeth from layers of lipstick, the security queues, and even, the Clarks heels.
Those 4 years were surprisingly some of the best times of my life. Sometimes, just sometimes I do miss that old fashioned crazy airport with the leaking roof, our 3am Blue bears in the crew room and want to grab my uniform, slick my hair into a neat bun, put on a full face of makeup, apply red lipstick and head straight back grab on my airside pass and go back into the hustle and bustle of Manchester airport.
So would I do it all again?