I’ve always loved the airport. I was never a big fan of getting up at stupid o’clock to get there but the excitement of going on holiday made up for it. It always brought a smile to my face knowing that I would be exploring a new part of the world for a few days. The hustle and bustle of people nabbing the duty free deals or having 5am pints in the bar with the girls before heading for a week in the sun made it an exciting place.
You know that scene in Love Actually where everyone is welcoming their loved ones home? That’s how I imagine the arrivals gate at the airport. Scenes of loved ones greeting family members who are home for the holidays. Men waiting with flowers and balloons as his partner arrives home. Little children waiting with homemade signs because their father was travelling for work. I once read somewhere that airports have more sincere kisses than wedding halls, and that kind of stuck with me.
A few years ago, I worked in a cafe in Dublin Airport. I met a lot of people from all across the world. Each travelling to a different city. Each travelling for a different reason. Each with a different story. A lot of the time I’d ask customers where they were flying too, to start a conversation and they would be willing to tell me. Some of the stories I was told made me realise that the airport isn’t just full of excitement. It can be a sad place for many.
One day, I asked a woman where she was travelling too and she informed me that she was travelling to France, to sell her late husband’s property, who had only passed away two days previous. She began to cry as I served her a cup of coffee. A couple in their 60’s told me they were travelling to Chicago to visit their daughter in hospital as she was terminally ill. One man told me that he was moving away to Australia as he couldn’t find work in Ireland. For many, people are leaving who they know and love to start a new life. Others are travelling to say goodbye to loved ones.
Due to the pandemic, most travel has been brought to a standstill with many countries closing their borders and airports. Once a place full of love and excitement, is now a place of fear with weary travellers, quickly moving from one place to another, covered in protective gear, hoping to not catch the virus on the way. It’s been a difficult time for everyone living abroad. Many people who have immigrated can’t travel home to visit loved ones or say goodbye to family who have sadly passed away from the virus. With the development of new vaccines, it brings hope for those who want to travel home. It brings hope that one day we can all travel safely for a getaway in the sun.
One day, the airport will be like it was before. A place of excitement and joy, rather than a place of fear.
Do you have happy or sad memories of the airport? Share your experiences in the comments below!