I spend a fairly large portion of my life in airports. Sleeping in them, eating in them, trying not to scream at someone in the security line etc. I can confidently / humbly say that I'm well versed in airport life and that I know how they work.
But airports still suck. No matter how many times you fly.
The thing about airports is - they bring out the absolutely worst in people. It's like suddenly everyone forgets everything that they ever knew about being a human. Now, I get it if you've never been to the airport before. And I know that airports are always the most stressful place in the world. Trust me I know this. But it's the SAME THING EVERY TIME. Don't act like you don't know that you needed to take off your shoes at security, and then spend 5 minutes unlacing your giant combat boots, thus holding up the whole line. Just don't do it.
From slow walkers, to confused travelers, to people who don't know you have to take your liquids out of their bag and end up getting searched, airports are hubs for everyone in the world that your mom told you to avoid when you were growing up. But today you have to deal with them.
The key to airport survival is just to breathe, pop in some headphones, and forge onwards. There's no way that you can teach these people how to be productive and successful fliers, so you just need to carry on forward as if they're not angering the hell out of you.
Some airports are better than others, with good restaurants, things to do, nice seating, etc. But if you get a crappy one, you've got at least two hours of nothingness.
One of the things that sucks about budget travel is that you often get those crappy airports. Budget airlines tend to fly to rogue airports far out of a big city. Usually, those specific airports cater to only budget airlines. So it's you and 50 other disgruntled RyanAir passengers. Really fab environment if you can imagine. Plan ahead. Pack a lunch. Beat those horrible airport prices.
I admit, I'm not very good at this. But when I am good at it, it makes travel so much easier and calmer. You don't have to rush around searching for the least crappy restaurant, and you have your own food & snacks to rely on. Also, if you're flying a budget airline, you DEFINITELY don't want to purchase food on the plane, as they'll jack up the prices an insane amount!