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I just spent the past couple weeks in three different countries, well four if you count the U.S. Okay, five if you count changing planes in France. Only you donít get to count airports you never leave, because thereís really a sixth country on my itinerary: The United Federation of Airports.
Once youíre in an airport, youíre in a country unto itself. You have a border crossing, even if you donít need a passport, youíve got to pass security. And once youíre in, youíre in. Doesnít matter if you fly from New York to Paris -- Charles De Gaul is just another city in one big country. There arenít anymore border crossings or security guards -- youíre still in the UFA.
The languages may change, but the culture is the same. Sure, the food might be different, but, honestly, not much. The currency might change, but your Visa card will work from airport to airport.
The airplanes are part of the UFAís public transportation, which might seem a little odd when you consider the whole point of going to the airport is for air travel, but then there are people who travel to the US just to drive big, fast cars, or people who go to the UK to ride trains. And planes are only part of the transportation infrastructure -- there are trains, little cars that drive the elderly around, Segways and moving sidewalks.
At one point I thought of airports as consulates within other countries, only the UFA doesnít really have a homeland. They have sprawling complexes that are marginally outside the regular jurisdiction of the country where they reside, but there isnít a central government.
Indeed, the UFA is the most structured, complex anarchy the world has ever seen. Think of it as Occupy Earth only with armed guards. They have these encampments all over the world, but like Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland were part of a bigger idea, so are airports.
There are, of course, citizens of the UFA, except they all have dual citizenship, maybe triple citizenship if you count each airline as itís own country, but theyíre more of floating states within the country. Like an American can say theyíre an Oregonian or a Floridian and still be an American, a Delta flight crew still holds citizenship in the UFA.
And the more you travel through the complex airline system, the less complex it seems. Like a naturalized citizen, you start to feel at home when you step through the doors of the airport -- exiting the foreign strangeness of the place you were visiting and returning home a place whose customs and surroundings are comforting in their familiarity.
Welcome home, and if the UFA isnít your final destination, youíll be back.