Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Week at the Airport by Alain De Botton

A Week at the Airport (2009)

by Alain De Botton

Other authors: Richard Baker (Photographer)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3822328,205 (3.67)53
Recently added byrnbwpnt, evening, private library, kimcecily, TheBookJunky, graffiti.living

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 53 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I’d known of this book for some time and had thought, from its title, it would be about some poor stateless person trapped in an airport. Then, when I read what it was about and how it had come to be written, I felt a degree of cynicism about what I might find, especially when de Botton begins by saying he’d often hoped for delays to his flight so that he might spend more time in a terminal which for me, having spent many purgatorial hours, usually in the small hours of the morning, waiting for connecting flights, sounded highly suspect. Does anyone really enjoy being in a terminal? The very name sounds bleak!

Of course, I went on to be well entertained and enlightened by de Botton observations, ones which often address the human condition. For example, in looking at the need for warmth and friendliness in air terminal employees, something that can’t really be mandated, de Botton traces the source of those with these traits to their parents’ way of bringing them up many years before. This sort of observation lifts this book from being just an entertaining and often metaphorical description of the workings of the terminal into something to get the reader thinking.

De Botton's light touch also helps to hold the reader’s attention. I like the way he asks the manager of the book shop in the terminal ‘for the sort of books in which a genial voice expresses emotions that the reader has long felt but never before really understood; those that convey the secret, everyday things that society at large prefers to leave unsaid; those that somehow make one feel somehow less alone and strange’. And de Botton counterbalances this perhaps more serious, even if flippant request by having the manager suggest instead a magazine.

And, if anything, de Botton becomes even more philosophical towards the end when, in contemplating the emotions he witnesses amongst arrivals, he observes that ‘we may spend the better part of our professional lives projecting strength and toughness, but we are all in the end creatures of appalling fragility and vulnerability’ and he writes of our aspirations from travelling, asking of our destinations ‘Help me to feel more generous, less afraid, always curious. Put a gap between me and my confusion; the whole of the Atlantic between me and my shame’. And he thinks ‘travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go’.

I wonder what the airport authorities who commissioned this book thought about de Botton’s result. I hope they liked it as much as I did. ( )
  evening | May 21, 2016 |
Alain de Botton was invited to spend a week at Heathrow, to observe and interpret the moments of the world's busiest airport. I anticipated a literary behind the scenes tour, but instead was rewarded with a different but ultimately more satisfying collection of reflections on the nature of journeys, anticipation, human foibles, power, economics and shoe-shines.
He reminds us that anything and everything can be interesting, even the mundane things we encounter every day, but no longer really see or notice because they are so familiar. If we look with a traveller's eye, we can once again see the wonders and complexities of our own daily worlds. It's a slim little book, littered with small photos accompanying his observations, and is a fast but satisfying read. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |

iz kataloga KGZ-a:
Odazvavši se pozivu vlasnika aerodroma Heathrow da bude njihov prvi kućni pisac (writer in residence), ovaj popularni suvremeni švicarski autor dobio je priliku neograničenog lutanja po jednom od najprometnijih svjetskih aerodroma. Tom je prigodom de Botton susretao putnike sa svih strana svijeta, razgovarao s mnogima koji rade na Heathrowu - čistačima cipela, zaštitarima, knjižarima i pilotima... Knjiga se može iščitavati kao svojevrsna meditacija o prirodi putovanja, rada, ljudskih odnosa i uobičajenog svakodnevnog života, u kojoj de Botton na mudar i pomalo uvrnut način vodi čitatelje kroz labirinte jednog mega-aerodroma, otkrivajući fenomene i tajne nevidljive svakodnevnom oku.
  rosenrot | Mar 1, 2016 |
Cumpre o objectivo do projecto: é mais pessoal e completo do que uma mera brochura.
Mas depois o shô Botton insiste em demasia nas temáticas usuais, animado de um deslumbramento divorciado de esforços de honestidade que, vindos de quem vêm, parecem mal.
( )
  Ritinha_ | Aug 26, 2015 |
A week at the airport. A Heathrow diary is a memorial piece of writing, documenting Heathrow airport. It is a dull and rather uninteresting booklet. Have any such memorials been written about Paddington or Waterloo station in the 1850s? If so, we are not reading them

The resulting, small book was a commission. The company that manages Heathrow Airport, "a multinational enterprise, otherwise focused on the management of landing fees and effluents" (p. 144) invited Alan de Botton to become "Heathrow's first writer-in-residence". Once the commission was accepted, the author's patron, "Colin Matthews, the chief executive of BAA, the owner of Heathrow" made no demands, and the author was left entiirely free to write the book as he wanted. In the opening chapter, the essayist ponders on this generosity, and the institute of patronage of artists. Foolish or not, De Botton decided to accept the invitation.

Why De Botton was approached is not mentioned, perhaps because he wrote The Art of Travel (2002) or is more generally seen as an essayist. However, he is a bit of a maverick, and particularly his earlier works did not seem very serious. Was Heathrow from the start looking for a "middle-of-the-road man"? Not that exuberantly famous, neither controversial. Or was the author chosen for any particular skill. That was in 2009. In 2011, Tony Parsons became the second writer-in-residence at Heathrow. He wrote Departures: Seven Stories from Heathrow. This booklet apparently did not do very well. Did he screw up? There haven't been any new writers-in-residence at the airport since. Have the powers-that-be lost interest in literature, so soon?

A week at the airport. A Heathrow diary is quite successful, surprisingly, as it is also pretty dull. De Botton is quite sarcastic at times about his commission and the facilities he could make use of. An airport is just not that fascinating. Are the "Airport Priests" really there because travellers anticipate the possibility of death? De Botton really wants to show that his patron made a good choice selecting him, and sprinkles the text with philosophical observations and references to philosophers. Hence, the observation that the dominance of consumerism at the airport is connected to travellers fear of a deadly accident. It seems rather far-fetched. On the other hand, the author does not mention the stress that is often so palpable at airports.

We do not normally stand still, to contemplate a utility such as an airport. On the other hand, an essay can be about anything, why not an airport? Whether De Botton did the best he could, writing A week at the airport. A Heathrow diary is doubtful. He just did his job, it seems. The book is well-crafted, but not inspired. A week at the airport. A Heathrow diary may not be so interesting now, but perhaps in 2160, a 150 years on, it will be a valuable source, or even common people may read it with relish. ( )
  edwinbcn | Feb 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Let me start by saying, on a purely aesthetic note, that De Botton’s books are always graphically interesting and stylistically ahead of the black-and-white pack.
The bizarre idea behind this work is that Alain de Botton would become London’s Heathrow Airport’s first “writer-in-residence,” stationed for an entire week in the new Terminal 5, observing passengers and talking with staff from shoe-shiners to security guards. His observations run the full gamut of the airport experience (he is no PR mouthpiece for Heathrow, as the premise of this book almost hints), from the uncomfortable (awakening at 5:30 am to the sound of descending planes), to the vast (the pure scale of Terminal 5, coupled with the diversity of humanity to walk its corridors), to the materialistic (the reverence for the executive lounge, which reeks of a caste system to me), to the inspiring (groups holding handmade signs to welcome back loved ones from far away).


» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alain De Bottonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baker, RichardPhotographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Saul
First words
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Meditative writings about one of the world's busiest international terminals liken an airport to a microcosm of modern-world themes, feature interviews with travelers and workers and share observations on topics ranging from haiku-like concession menus to the silence on a nighttime runway.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
98 wanted
3 pay1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.67)
1 1
2 7
3 25
3.5 8
4 36
4.5 2
5 14

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 106,003,220 books! | Top bar: Always visible