With snow and ice still blanketing much of the East Coast, many travelers remain grounded in airports waiting for their flights to be rescheduled. One of my coworkers, Kim, made it out of Atlanta safely yesterday, but for those travelers who have not had the same good fortune, an interesting slideshow on businessweek.com this morning titled, “Airport Semiotics,” may provide some comic relief, as well as a little bit of insight into why travelers act the way they do in waiting areas. Journalist Tim Murphy delves into the different personalities you may see at airport gates, complete with entertaining cartoon illustrations. His typology of airport behavior was derived from observations made by Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this winter, which were later analyzed by a panel of experts.
So what does it mean when a traveler unpacks and repacks their rolling bags repeatedly? How about when travelers fidget and twitch? Keep reading for a brief overview of several of the traveler types identified in Murphy’s slideshow…
1. “Luggage Riflers”: People tend to repeatedly unpack and repack their luggage out of nervousness that they have lost something or if they are worried that something unfortunate is going to happen.
2. “Food Stuffers”: The common tendency of travelers to snack at airport gates results when “we don’t have our bearings” and look to food as a source of comfort.
3. “The Existentialists”: The observation of “unfriendly” facial expressions is not necessarily a sign that travelers are actually angry or unhappy, but can be attributed to the human face’s natural tendency to look unfriendly when at rest.