Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Love Airports!

Airports are tiny microcosms of our lives.  I like airports. I walk into an airport, and I’m *happy* because I know I’m about to embark on an adventure.  No one is expecting anything of me other than to make my flight.  Gotta love that.
Airports have unique shops, though some are better than others.  They have eateries and drinkeries and local entertainmenteries.  You can spend a lot of quality time at an airport.
Many airports have shoe shiners and massagers. And, my most recent discovery, VIP lounges!  I never knew what I was missing until the doors opened, hosannas rang in my ears, and I stumbled forward into the light.  Free drinks, free eats, free newspapers and magazines, places to watch tv, beds, wifi, and showers! Admirals clubs and Executive clubs… it’s like Eden at the airport!
For the most part, the personnel at the airport are nice and helpful.  The same can be said of travelers, by the way.  I volunteer at a visitor information booth on the weekends, and I can tell you that what makes my day is knowing I’ve helped make some traveler’s life a little less stressful.  Even if it’s only to smile and hand them a map or local magazine.  But, sometimes, it’s more than that.  Like helping a deaf kid whose ride didn’t show up.  Between us and the airport police, we got him where he needed to be.  Or the soldier from Fort Hood who lost his wallet (and was reunited). 
Travel weary folks who just landed from far off lands (and some not so far off) have been helped by our customer-service conscious staff.
I hear that airports stress some people out.  That all the connections and layovers are anything but a happy experience.  I think the difference is the attitude you show up with.
If you show up thinking your trip should go one way and it takes a 90 degree turn, it’s just part of the package.  It can either be an adventure, or your worst nightmare… but YOU get to choose!  Once, at Newark, I explored and found a multi-faith meditation room.  I loved the idea!  At Heathrow, there are more shops than you can find on Oxford Street.  In Austin, one of the best-known BBQ restaurants is the Salt Lick… you guessed it… at the airport!
So, plan on not planning once your feet hit the automatic doors at the departures entrance. This is a gift you’ve been given.  A chance to meet people you’ve never met before.  To lend a smile or encouraging word as you shuffle through the TSA lines.  Decide that you are going to start this adventure… with the grace, finesse, and humor of a seasoned traveler… and expect travel karma to respond in kind!

 Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA)