Why Do People Start Drinking So Early In Airports? [Roundup]

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  1. An airport is the apotheosis of liminal space. Timeline norms don’t apply, especially if you got up in the middle of the night to be there, or have been up all night flying. It can always be beer o’clock.

  2. Also some people are afraid to fly. But perhaps it is like Las Vegas, a place outside the norms. That might explain some of the behavior on planes too.

  3. Timeframes. .it’s always 5 o clock somewhere …or I’m flying Qantas! Give me a drink as I’ll.need it…(ofcourse not before noon for some odd reason in Australia!! Why does it matter?

  4. Regarding the Marriott breakfast benefit, three points:

    1) This is what a Marriott general manager friend of mine told me after the incident at the St. Regis in Chicago: “The issue is that their benefits are still based on Marriott owned hotels. Franchise mostly have their F&B outsourced to a third party and the the complimentary breakfast for elite guests is charged at full price back to hotel which becomes very costly… that’s why some hotels try to offer points rather than breakfast… from a guest perspective I totally understand it!!!!”

    I think that’s an interesting perspective. Of course, any validity of that position is totally undercut by the hotel selling nightly room rates that specifically include breakfast.

    2) There is a completely overlooked clause in the Bonvoy terms and conditions that basically allow a hotel to (probably) get away with cheating elite members. Specifically, section 4.1.c.ii:

    “Local policy may prevail over Loyalty Program standards at Participating Properties, and some Elite membership benefits may not be available at some locations.”

    Presumably, all a bad hotel has to do is create a local policy to override whatever Bonvoy elite status benefit they don’t want to provide. Does anyone seriously think at non-Marriott-managed properties that Marriott is going to go after a franchisee or third-party management company that owns or operates dozens if not hundreds of properties? Ultimately, this is what happens when Marriott manages less than 30% of its hotels across all hotels. Marriott is virtually powerless to decide what happens at over 70% of all Marriott hotels.

    3) At the end of the day, the only way this is fixed Marriott-wide is if someone or, ideally, a state attorney general/consumer protection agency sues Marriott for fraud. Marriott knows it has an issue. The breakfast benefit issues have been widely reported for years. You have properties that won’t even provide a breakfast benefit that covers the cost of breakfast. Just like Marriott eventually caved with resort fees, they will cave over breakfast if someone actually sues them.

  5. Compared to pre 9-11 you now need to be at the airport much earlier than before to ensure you make your flight. This means lots of dead time, which combined with airport operators who earn revenue from alcohol, makes it all inevitable

  6. “Why Do People Start Drinking So Early In Airports?”

    Because the lubrication helps make the experience of being squeezed in a sardine can and shot across the sky less intolerable?

  7. I will readily admit I have “The Procedure”. 🙂

    When I was young, as in 21 years old young, I was actually afraid of flying (more likely afraid of dying).

    So I invented the “Procedure”:

    1) Get to the airport 90 minutes early.
    2) Have two drinks. As I got older, three. You know, from experience. 🙂
    3) Not worry about the noises you never heard before, or weird things that would happen. As a tech guy, I was *super* attuned to anything that was different from the norm. I just go with the flow and be friendly.

    Then with the Internet (I had one of the first mobile hotspots… talk about gamechanging!!!! I would even share the hotspot with strangers) , all of a sudden I could use the dead time productively.

    Now, 30 years later, I have the same exact procedure- regardless of the time- it’s something I have always, always done and I don’t see giving it up. It’s a routine, keeps me sane, and helps with writing blogs like this. 😉

    As I say to other passengers, “You do You, I’m all good!”


  8. A lot of people flying are on vacation. What do people do who are on vacation? Drink! The same holds true for business travelers who often are on the company dime with expense accounts. The presence of fully stocked airport lounges is another factor.

  9. @Rusty – exactly. Why do people start drinking so early in Airports? Because they can!

  10. Lots of good reasons mentioned but one clearly has to be it makes sitting for a lengthy time crammed in so close to the person ahead of you that you can count the hair on their head, fighting the person beside you for a tiny bit of arm rest, with lousy treatment and service by flight attendants a bit tolerable. Without some numbing influence there would be more altercations

  11. I never understood domestic Airport drinking, where no one knows your name, and staff are either incompetent or surly. International I can understand, due to time zone warp.

  12. Usually they are just showing their true colors which is easier to do while on vacation.

  13. With the exception of beer festivals, I don’t drink before 5. At the airport, I rarely sit at a concourse bar and have a drink that I have to pay for. But if in a good lounge and flying International J, I will. Having to be so early at the airport also means more time in the lounge. It’s one reason they are so crowded.

    On the other hand, I do know some people who have a drink or two before flying any time because of fear of flying.

  14. Bars at airports are a significant revenue source for the city that owns the facility. Also, ever notice their’s no departure board inside the bar…No Need To Rush…just have another gin & tonic or vodka collins to calm your nerves.
    However, the number of incidents at the boarding gate or inside the jet has grown at a phenomenal rate. In my book, the city is just as culpable for the rash of fights, police calls, etc.

  15. I will have drinks at the airport only if I am in a lounge with free drinks. I will only have drinks in the morning hours if I am in a lounge with high end alcohol. For example if I am in the LH FCT and there is high end whiskey I am going to have some or if I get on the plane I’m gonna have champagne even in the morning hours. If its just the cheap stuff then I’m not bothering, but often by the time I am in an airport lounge I have been up for several hours already.

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