People watching is a quality past time but at an airport it’s even more interesting. Today I am at Heathrow Airport. I am finally flying to Xi’an. I had numerous setbacks when I was applying for my visa so now I am hardly surprised that my flight is delayed. It’s been pushed back 2 hours and so now I am sat watching people as they wait for flights and buy their last minute travel essentials. This post is going to be a little bit different to my usual posts. This is going to be a story/ documentary about the people I am seeing here in Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport.

Viewing Point

I have sat myself in the middle of the main seating area after security. I preferred my previous spot at Café Nero which had a table on which to put my laptop. It also looked out to the entire seating area. Alas, a necessary bathroom break meant I lost that seat. I am now sat near my original spot but have my back to half the seating area. I am however facing an information board so if I squint I can see which flights are boarding and which are delayed (currently the only delayed flight is mine).

Working at Cafe Nero in Heathrow Airport

The original viewing point

The Crew

The first group I spot is a group over at Café Nero. I may or may not have been staring longingly at my previous seat. It is a group of five. One in a pilots outfit and at least three of the other four are stewards/stewardess’ (the last person has a coat on and their back to me). I will presume though he is also a steward. I don’t know what airline they’re with as they’re in pretty neutral colours so don’t stand out as an airline I instantly recognise. They may the flight crew for my flight. Perhaps they too are forced to kill time before we can depart. However, I heard from some other travellers that the delay was scheduled yesterday so I imagine the flight crew would come in late. Unless they only arrived on a flight this morning and now have a larger break?

Important People

Next to me is as man. He is also on his laptop. It gives off a very important person vibe to be at an airport working on your laptop. People probably assume those people are business men and women on important business trips. I like to think that’s the vibe they get from me also but there is a very important difference between myself and the man next to me. The gentleman is wearing a suit and has a smart black carry on bag. I am in slouchy cotton trousers with an oversized tee and trainers with stripy fluffy socks on. Instead of a smart carry on bag I have a tattered backpack and an old laptop bag which I got second hand 5 years ago. He is also sat like a normal person whilst I am sat cross legged like I’m still in primary school.

Fluffy socks for travel

Fluffy socks are the best travel socks.

Family Fun

There are of course some families around. After all it is the first week of the schools summer holidays so I am sure many families are going on their holiday. There are kids on smartphones and tablets probably playing games or listening to music. Thank god for technology, I don’t know what parents used to do ( Although I have heard of legends that refer to  things called colouring books and card games.) I don’t blame them though as flights can be long and really boring for kids. Even if I flight is only 5 hours when you add in the time of checking in and waiting for boarding and even getting to the airport to start with it can become a really long day.

There is a family near me though who haven’t an electronic in sight. Two children, their parents and a grandparent seem to be having fun just talking to each other. They are going to America. There is a flight to Chicago that’s about to leave so I don’t think that’s it. There’s a flight to New York though in an hour and a half. I reckon they’ll be on that flight. They just got someone to take their photo. It reminds me of my family photos in airports before our family holidays. My favourite of which is of my siblings and I sat on the floor wrapped up in jumpers in the early hours of the morning. The woman who took the photo has actually sat down with them. I’m not sure how she is connect to the family. Possibly an auntie to the kids. I am still pretty sure the children are siblings and not cousins or just friends. Either way, I hope the family has a great time on holiday.

My People

Now most of the people I can see are middle aged or part of a family group. However, I’m sure there must be some of my people around. Surely there are backpackers off on adventures today! I met two girls at check in who are doing South East Asia. They are teachers so are making the most of the school holidays by travelling. However, they were shocked I was going away for so long. So not quite my people. I can’t see any other obvious backpackers though. They are usually easy to spot. They dress comfortable for their flights not caring too much about their appearance. If you spot hippie pants there is a 90% chance they are backpacker. The other 10% are just wannabe’s. Backpacker’s carry on baggage is a backpack, often a brand such as Osprey if not just a casual everyday backpack. The final easy way of spotting them is by travel tattoos. Now this is harder as tattoos aren’t always easy to spot and it’s not a rule that if you have a tattoo you are a traveller or vice a versa. I don’t have any tattoos (although I have surprisingly considered it). However, there are some tattoo’s that when paired with other indicators do clearly mark someone out as a backpacker.

Heathrow Airport

The terminal is getting busier now. It is 7:50am so I still l have another hour until boarding. It may be time to go use some of the free charging ports though so I have enough juice on my laptop for my layover in Helsinki too.


What other groups of people do you often see at airports? And how do you spot them?