I can only sit for so long in plastic waiting area chairs with scratched metal armrests. When I'm ready for a change of scenery, there are two interesting options: Starbucks or the airport bar. Since I've already consumed a couple quarts of French Roast today, it's time for the bar.
This is my sanity "ace in the hole" after a long day of travel annoyances. But a few things need to fall into place to make this a positive experience.
First, I don't sit at the bar. That location is no good for photographers. All of the action is happening to your back. In front of you there's only a TV, shelves of liquor, and an overworked bartender. Plus, I don't care what anyone says, it's not comfortable.
So I work my way to a table where I can watch everything that's going on - a lively stage of human drama featuring players dressed in business suits, cargo shorts, hot pants, heels, plaid shirts, and adorned with overstuffed backpacks.
Second, I order beer, not mixed drinks. Beer lasts longer, costs less, and doesn't cloud your judgement and possibly cause you to miss your flight. Right now I'm nursing a Sam Adams on draft. It's quite refreshing, actually... especially after a day of relentless coffee consumption.
And finally, don't even entertain the thought if making a new friend. If you eliminate that possibility all together, you'll be more productive, waste less money, and avoid mindless conversations. Best of all, spontaneous phone calls from your wife will be far more enjoyable.