Brewer's Droop #199

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She looked up at me with wide smiling eyes and said “my, my, are you sure you want to go through so soon?” It didn’t faze me one bit so I smiled back and said “sure”. I went through to the lounge, got comfortably settled in and did a lot of uninterrupted work.

For as long as I can remember, most of my friends have laughed at how early I leave for airports.

I’m talking about arriving early – I’m saying really EARLY. That means for domestic flights I’ve already passed through security at least two hours before the flight will be called.

For international flights I’m so early that I’m often there before the staff have opened the desk. Ultimately is means I’ll be sitting down in the lounge two to three hours before the flight is called.

Some people want to know why I do this or am I just OCD?

Well, I happen to LIKE airports (since this is sounding like a confession I might as well add that I also like airline food. I honestly have trouble finding anything wrong with it)

I think it was Stevenson who said “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake; the great affair is to move”.

For me, the excitement begins at the airport (although I will concede that a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg hardly counts very high on the scale of romantic jet-set travel so I’m really talking about long distances and new places here).

There are some big advantages to getting there early. Just a few random thoughts include;

I’ve never been bumped off a flight.
I’ve never missed one (except for once when I fell asleep watching cricket).
I’ve met hundreds of really interesting people.
I’ve met new clients there – often.
It’s a great place to catch up on emails and reports.
The drinks and snacks are free.
And there’s always the chance that a twenty-something super model is going to fancy me (on her way to being committed probably).

But there are really cool things happening at the airport. The vibe is what appeals to me mostly. There are usually good bars and lounges with interesting people – most of whom, in my experience, are extremely friendly. As I’ve already said, I’ve done a lot of business in airport lounges – and enjoyed myself at the same time.

I’ve travelled a lot and mainly the ONLY people who complain about the food on board are those who think (for some weird reason) that their last meal on a flight makes a good topic of conversation for (a) the person next to them and (b) their friends later on. So it just has to be inedible, otherwise it’s just another boring story.

Okay, to be fair, I’ve had the WORST hot dogs in my life on American Airlines. I’ve also had delicious fillet steak on SAA. But, on average, the food is pretty good.

Of course, from time to time, you’re going to get a lump of gelatinous stuff which is not nice, served by a surly stewardess who’s probably having period pains. Sometimes the entertainment centre doesn’t work and that bastard in front keeps pushing his seat back as hard and as far as it will go (why DO people do that?) And let’s not forget the screaming baby two rows behind.

But hey, shit happens every now and then.

Live with it. The next flight will be 100 times better.

But if you’re one of those people who literally run into the airport, barge into queues and demand that you be checked in quickly then here’s a list for you too:

There’s a strong possibility that the check-in clerk will tell you that the gate’s already closed.
You have a very high chance of being bumped off the flight anyway.
You run a high risk of the guy you pushed in front of in the queue knocking your teeth out.
Your stress levels will be sky high so your heart may not even make it to the plane.
You are not going to make any new friends – just enemies (the same goes for new clients too).
You’re going to be hot and sweaty and frankly not nice to stand next to.
You’ll miss one of the great joys in life – which is relaxing and just taking things easy.

I’m not suggesting that my plan is the best because clearly I have psychological issues about being on time – but for those who habitually arrive late why not try leaving just one hour earlier?

You’ll feel so much better.


We built a new house about four years ago. It was off-plan so we didn’t really have a lot of input. Anyway, we were assured of the finest top-of-the-range finishes, and to be honest everything looks very good. But when you examine the lavatories closely (as one is wont to do naturally) you discover that each of them are magnificent to behold. The finest Italian, or whatever, design.

My concern is though, when designers design such items, they obviously put a lot of thought into the sleek lines and the pneumatic seat recovery and so forth. Why then, do they put the cheapest rubbish into the mechanics of the thing?

It’s all very well to wonder at the glory of the gleaming and streamlined new lavatory they installed. It’s almost decadent pleasure to sit on one. But when the sodding flush gets stuck because it’s a cheap bit of plastic, what’s the bloody point?

It’s a bit like buying a Rolls Royce and finding there’s an electric motor using an elastic band under the bonnet.

And another thing…why, oh why, did the electricians install screw-in bulbs at one end of the passage and bayonet bulbs at the other? Did they do it just to freak me out?

In our previous house we had three outside taps. One took a quarter-inch fitting, another took a three-eighth and the other a five-eighth. That meant buying separate size hose attachments and keeping a stock of different sized washers.



I noticed that Julius is using some really good material these days. He’s now advising SRC students to “avoid a lavish lifestyle” while they’re in office.

This apparently includes telling them not to buy big TV sets or expensive clothes.

I’m guessing that he also means expensive homes, extravagant parties, luxurious cars and Johnny Walker Green Label.

If that’s the case then he’ll have absolutely no friends left in government at all.

He is a funny man though – you can’t help but laugh.


Last weekend I was sitting in our lounge nursing a gentle Merlot and I heard the wife busy in the kitchen. So I started thinking how lucky I was.

I was also thinking about financial plans and making a new will so, in a moment of great magnaminity, I called out to her “When I die I’m leaving everything to you, Sweetie!”

And she shouted back “You already do, you lazy bastard!”

It’s so much nicer at the airport.

By the way, we’ll shortly be accepting advertising on this site – contact me if you’re interested. (We reach the cream of the advertising and marketing communities, but you knew that already didn’t you.)

Lastly, Chris Moerdyk and I are giving a joint presentation to AMASA in Cape Town next week titled “How Old Advertising Farts Deal With New Technology” – should be fun. If you feel like coming along to poke two geriatrics then phone Anneke Stramrood at 021 685 3838 (Tuesday 23 October at Upper East Side Hotel – 17:30)


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    • It’s better to be sitting at the airport and thinking about the traffic – than sitting in the traffic and thinking about the airport

  2. Agree about the timing Chris – can’t stand people arguing at check-in because they are late and have missed the flight. But can’t agree about the food! Its cardboard!

  3. agree completely – no better waiting place on earth than airports and the possibility of meeting that long lost…. ah well let’s not get carried away!

    • Geoff, I know exactly what you mean – but you’d meet a lot more than I would!

  4. My sentiments fully – I love the vibe of airports – even the little pokey ones in some of the smaller African cities. I have never complained about airline food and I have certainly made many new business contacts at the airport, on the plane, at luggage collection, oh and in the pub too!!

  5. What a relief to know that I’m in good company when I insist on being 2 hours early for a domestic flight. It is not only the time issue. I was a pilots wife for 20 years. So, 20 years of business class lounges. I now roam the terminal a free agent. People watching having coffee, checking out new books. The only downside. …first bag in last bag out. But that is a small price to pay for my day set aside for travel:-)

  6. Hey Chris – loved this issue! By the way, it would be great if you and Chris could do the same for AMASA in Jo’burg! Let’s chat!

    • Thanks Lyn, will let you know how many rotten eggs we get thrown at us – then we can discuss!

      • I agree, please do a session in Joburg.
        I just love Brewer’s Droop, even people outside of our industry look forward to it.

  7. Absolutely agree with everything , my experience too .

  8. Chris and Chris – old farts and young tech? Sounds like the name of an ad agency!
    See you there.

  9. My goodness! Not a single acerbic comment to speak of! Good read though. See you in the Slow Lounge.

  10. Great stuff Chris. Want to talk to you about advertising on the Droop site – will see you at the AMASA talk.

  11. Yup, ever since Steve convinced me to switch to FNB, I arrive early at the airport. I can relax in the SLOW lounge, have a massage, and eat their lovely food. Then I don’t have to eat the half frozen, vile excuse for a sandwich on the plane.
    And AMASA in Jo’burg will be great.

    • Hi Megan, Please explain to dumb-asses like me the connection between FNB and getting to the airport early! Is it perhaps because I work from home that I don’t know these things?
      And yes, Chris SAA’s food is (was?) very good.Even the sandwiches.

      • Terry, I’m fairly sure that if you have an FNB card you can get access to the British Airways SLOW Lounge – which is pretty good generally (the one in Sandton is fantastic!)

        But there’s no such thing as a free sandwich!

  12. Thanks for a nice post! I now read your blog everytime!

  13. “Poke two geriatrics”??? My God, they’re coming out of the closet all the time. Thank you for the offer but no thank you.

    • You sure Ian? You can still change your mind!

  14. Great read…
    Big Fan of the column – missed the chirping in this one though…

  15. “Airport lounges”………………. you flying Business Class, Chris? I thought that your friend Julius was against such things! 😉

    • That’s why I use normal flights while he uses private jets. ANY class would be an insult to him (and, more importantly, he would bring down the dignity for the others in that class).

  16. Share your sentiments Chris – love most airports and the accompanying vibe (just NOT UMTATA – a shocker) and get there 2-3 hours before the flight. Read the free newspapers, relax and arrive unruffled at my destination. Agree with Monica – only 1 small problem – luggage does come out last!

  17. Couldn’t agree more about getting to airports early. The only negative is that the last people to check in are more likely to get an upgrade – or not? (They get their luggage first too).

  18. I notice a few people mentioning (in comments and emails) about luggage coming off last and upgrades not being given to early passengers. Neither are strictly true.

    Upgrades are done primarily on a status basis. If you’re a platinum card holder you’ll be first to be upgraded – irrespective of check-in time.

    Luggage arrival is pure luck. It makes no difference.

  19. I arrive at airports early because I have missed so many flights, often to remote places. This means I have missed events I was invited to (oh like weddings, special birthdays). I am neurotic as a result. Hate losing more friends. Loved the article.

  20. Regret I’m usually the one running down the skywalk as they close the doors. No upgrades on 1Time – but all the seats are comfy, and you can check in a WEEK PRIOR so no fuss. And you can CHOOSE the food (or not).
    Old Ad Farts & New Technology would go down well in Dbn too … if we knew how we could have a webcast virtual presentation thingy!

  21. Thank you Chris – Pulitzer prize-winning novella potential. Now how to get you elected into government?

    • I think there should be a law that says if anyone actually wants to be a politician they should immediately be executed. Thanks for the compliments!

  22. I love plane’s and airports. I even love shopping at duty free shops. I should live near an airport.

  23. BRILLIANT! WITTY! As always. Thanks, Chris, for a great read!


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