A Week at the Airport

Publisher: Emblem Editions
The bestselling author of The Architecture of Happiness and The Art of Travel spends a week at an airport in a wittily intriguing meditation on the "non-place" that he believes is the centre of our civilization.

In the summer of 2009, Alain de Botton was invited by the owners of Heathrow airport to become their first ever writer-in-residence. Given unprecedented, unrestricted access to wander around one of the world's busiest airports, he met travellers from all over the globe, and spoke with everyone from baggage handlers to pilots, and senior executives to the airport chaplain. Based on these conversations he has produced this extraordinary meditation on the nature of travel, work, relationships, and our daily lives. Working with the renowned documentary photographer Richard Baker, he explores the magical and the mundane, and the interactions of travellers and workers all over this familiar but mysterious "non-place," which by definition we are eager to leave. Taking the reader through departures, "air-side," and the arrivals hall, de Botton shows with his usual combination of wit and wisdom that spending time in an airport can be more revealing than we might think.


Chapter 1

While punctuality lies at the heart of what we typically understand by a good trip, I have often longed for my plane to be delayed-so that I might be forced to spend a bit more time at the airport. I have rarely shared this aspiration with other people, but in private I have hoped for a hydraulic...
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"De Botton's most imaginative work yet"
— The Spectator.

"Funny, charming and slender enough to pack in your carry-on." 
Daily Mail

"His observations on airport life are wry and thought-provoking . . . excellent." 

"Shrewd, perceptive and gently ironic . . . At de Botton's T5, banality and sublimity circle in a perpetual holding pattern."