The Merry-Go-Round at Airports and Today’s Travel

Pedro Odubayo Thompson
4 min readJul 16, 2022


My trip from New York to London in spring this year was nothing but rough.

Heathrow Airport’s Endless Human Chain

Once at Heathrow, as usual, we had to go through security and get our passports stamped electronically.

Then began the nightmare. From then on, we had to deal with the merry-go-round journey, which Spaniards may call fila India (an Indian lineup that never ends).

As if the long queue wasn’t enough, the stamping machine assigned to my group failed to scan some people’s passports and take photographs.

That was my case as the machine could not scan my passport and take my photograph. The airport officials told the few of us whose passports failed to scan to start all over again; at this juncture, I objected to that after standing and waiting for hours (half awake) due to jet lag.

At my objection, they gave me another opportunity to try the scanning machine out again, and I was lucky to have my passport scanned, and my photograph captured this time. Wow! That was a great relief.

National and International Travel in Jeopardy

Considering all these factors mentioned so far and without mincing words, there is much to be desired regarding national and international travel.

Travelers with flight connections risk missing their flights with this sort of arrangement and cumbersome processes.

The Heathrow Human’s Chain Experience and Lessons

While I walked with others in the queue, I paid close attention to what was happening around me; I saw what I might call “human docility at work.” Especially when humans don’t have any other choice to make but to toe the line of the moment, I could see, I could feel people being sad, desperate, and uneasily settling down with whatever comes their way.

My constant observation revealed that in no way this not only long but a merry-go-round line was for the faint-hearted.

The mixed feelings, the anxiety, and the fatigue of the nearly eight-hour night flight from New York to London didn’t seem to interfere with my thoughts.

And what’s more, I belonged to one of those faint-hearted groups who miraculously made it out alive. What’s more can one ask for!

The merry-go-round was real, no exaggeration. And my round count (the time we had to go round and round) probably exceeded a dozen times.

My Take So far

Without any intention to denigrate the arrangement at the airport, I think officials in charge should constantly put their heads together to brainstorm and come out with the best solution to handle passengers passing through that magnificent airport to lessen travelers’ burden.

In fact, why should “all destinations” come under the same group if it could have been split up by “EU passport holders, US passport holders, Canadian passport holders, and non-EU passport holders” long ago? To make it easier for each group to be managed.

The Merry-Go-Round Concept Is Becoming the Norms at Major Airports All Over the World

Recent measures contribute to the untold hardship passengers experience at different airports globally.

Therefore, one can conclude that a lot is yet to be desired as far as national and international traveling is concerned.

London, understandably because of the significant transits at London airport.

London-Madrid Trip

The Heathrow experience opened my eyes as I didn’t know I would be going through a similar ordeal five days later at Adolfo Suarez- Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain.

Though the waiting and the queuing in Barajas-Madrid were less intense compared to Heathrow’s Airport, another little difference, too, had to do with human signing and stamping of the passports in Madrid, unlike in London, understandably because of the significant transits at London airport.

My awful experience with Ryanair (what was supposed to be a low-cost airline) became what would break the camel’s back.

The Ryanair, with its luggage problem and issues of “not booking online,” was the start of my horrifying experience on this trip from London. Ryanair sucks!

It sucked my wallet: “You didn’t check in,” “Pay for the second-hand luggage.” These unexpected problems with payments landed me in some difficult positions with hotels and feeding.

Bin Laden and COVID-19 Contributions to Our Traveling Suffering

I know there’s no traveler who doesn’t remember the battle Osama Bin Laden and COVID have put us into, once they find themselves at airports (the security check with scanners scanning even through our intestines). Many of us will never forgive Bin Laden or COVID-19 or any of its variants for the stress they put us through every time we travel.

To conclude, I hope they find a safer solution to reduce travel stress in major airports worldwide.

Thanks for reading!

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Pedro Odubayo Thompson

Pedro is a man of few days who strives to encourage critical thinking, promotes social justice, and endeavors to leave a lasting legacy behind.