The hotel chauffeur was happy to drive me to Beijing Capital International Airport on this my China exit day. He’s going to send my Pinoy ass back to Manila once and for all. But I’m not as pleased as he is since the stooge has never, for once, allowed me the satisfaction of a single cigarette inside his leather-seated Chevrolet. I say he finds it hard to understand smokers as much as the English language.
After the 45-minute ride, he dropped me off and I reached for a stick and joined a band of puffers on the curbside for a one last butt before the long flight out. Beijing International is a smoke-free installation. Never ask for the indoor smoking area because there is none. And airport personnels here must have been programmed to treat smokers with contempt. To be disdained.
Once I asked a maintenance worker for the nearest smoking area and she replied Outside! with a sharp look in her eye it felt like a crossbow in my face. OUTSIDE is a long walk out, through long security lines, checkpoints, and back. Smokers, especially the “kettles”, are willing to go through all these just for a waft. Why do they have to phase those smoking lounges out
Xian International Airport is a bit more considerate. They have this airside smoking room, a little bigger than a polling booth, where smokers cram themselves, standing like a family of meerkats , puffing fumes on each other’s face under a very, very poor ventilation. It’s literally a gas chamber for suckers. I should have taken a shot of that smoking room and name it “Genocide of the Smoking Species.” I have to squeeze my way out of this cubbyhole even before finishing half the stick!
Xiamen Airport is even more compassionate. They have an indoor smoking lounge with more elbow room, furnished with comfy chairs and so well ventilated the smoke disappears almost immediately. And they have this fixed ashtrays with built-in lighters on the sides just in case you don’t have one or it got confiscated by security personnels. Xiamen Airport wants to make sure you get to enjoy every inch of your stick here.
I have come across a lot of bizarre arguments about airport smoking lounges before. Would you believe there are non-smokers who would rather have smoking lounges indoor than no smoking area at all? Or herding out smokers outside on terminal sidewalks? Here’s a case in point.
Then there are HARDCORE smokers who still can’t stand the small and fully-packed smoking lounges and wished for the outdoor smoking areas. Isn’t it an odd world we live in, Mr. Belton?
Anyway, as soon as I get off NAIA Terminal One, considered as 2011’s world’s worst !@#+! airport, I shall have the satisfaction of a smooth Marlboro Lights, with my feet up on a couch inside a spacious well-ventilated coffee shop, having a great view of the tarmac.