We Need to Talk About Crying in Airports

And this includes crying in an airplane.

Between studying abroad in Europe and Argentina and marrying someone that lives on a different continent, I am all too familiar with airports and airplanes. Unlike most, I don’t have a fear of flying or hate it. In fact, it’s one of the only methods of transportation where I don’t experience motion sickness! And yet, I do tend to experience another kind of ailment: crying.

The absolute catharsis that takes place when one cries at an airport or inside of an airplane can no longer be ignored. I feel like we all do it and stay silent on the matter. Why do we hoard this common phenomenon to ourselves and barely speak of it? Is crying on airplanes the getting your period at 11 for adults? Just because we try and hide the fact that yes, we are full blown crying at terminal 37 at the El Dorado Airport in Bogota, Colombia, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t tell people I cried there. I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t cry. And to be honest, I don’t even try to hide my crying at this point.

Because what I’ve learned from all these years of crying at airports is that you can be surrounded by hundreds of people and no one is going to make you feel ashamed for those tears or shoot you a dirty look. Everyone is absolutely doing their own thing: rushing to their connecting flight, purchasing oddly unnecessary duty-free items, taking off their heels (???) in security, eating Panda Express at 9:30 in the morning, double fisting Bloody Marys before their flight to Dallas. Most of the time, no one is even going to stop by and ask what’s wrong (which is exactly the way I want it!!!!). Let those tears fall, my young adventurer. Sob. Let the snot seep from your nostril. Do your disgusting cry. Or your pretty cry, where lone tears fall and meet your silent and gracious sobs. The point is: you can cry and if you feel like crying, you really should.

Depression memes run rampant through my generation and crying in public has become something super normal to us. In fact, if you’re a young adult and you haven’t cried in public, you’re probably an anomaly! The magazine at my alma mater wrote a piece ranking the best spots to cry on campus. Airports and airlines, fear not, as ye need not be ranked, but only considered as one of the best places to squint the tears out of your eyes and lashes.

Art by my sister, Liz Blair. You can find more of her work on Instagram @lizzieb.lair

Cry through security, in the bathroom before you board the plane, cry at your conveniently located seat next to 1/20 outlets in the entire airport. Cry because whatever you’re crying about is probably the worst and feels like its the end of the world. For me, every time I leave the U.S. I’m crying for my family, friends and my dog. But if I leave Argentina, I’m crying for my husband. Luckily for me, I feel right at home crying in the airport!

Also luckily for me, I also feel at home crying in my aisle seat on the airplane. (Yes, I said the aisle. Chronic criers who choose the aisle seat are braver than the U.S. Marines. I’ll leave the window seat for someone who needs a more discreet cry spot.) Am I missing someone I just left behind or is the in-flight movie a real tear-jerker? That’s for me to know and for literally no one to find out. So once again, cry! Let your tears evaporate and let them be recycled into that terrible airplane air we all know and despise.

Airports and airplanes were made to get you where you need to go but they can also cause a considerable amount of stress that may result in crying. That heightened amount of stress, the anxiety of air travel and the thinner altitude just tends to poke at those tear ducts. Poke AWAY because I’m here to tell you it’s normal and it’s okay.

Next time you find yourself feeling alone, sad or lost at an airport, don’t be afraid to cry.

Do you have a story about crying at airports or on your favorite Boeing 727 (or airplane model of choice)? Comment below and let’s feel those feelings together.

3 thoughts on “We Need to Talk About Crying in Airports

  1. I FEEL THIS SO MUCH! and you mentioned the fact that literally no one cares which is the absolute best.

    however, i was once ugly crying and a nice woman named ruby sat down next to me and asked me to tell her about my girlfriend, which was actually really cool for me to be able to do. i’m not sure if i would have just preferred for her to let me be alone, but either way she did what she did and it was actually really nice.

    on a funnier note, i have a distinct memory of ugly crying in Philadelphia and a tall blonde woman was attempting to be a ruby but all she did was violently throw a pack of tissues in my general direction.

    you said that you think the airplane conditions MAKE you cry, but i feel like they prevent me from doing so. i don’t think i’ve ever cried in a plane. i feel like you win an achievement in life for crying in a plane – do you enter the “Mile Cry” club?

    anyway, loved the post, rachel.


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