The excitement of each new journey begins the minute I step into the terminal.
The airport has always been a special place for me; it represents the beginning of a long journey, literally my “portal” to a distant land.
When I was young, my mom and dad would take my sister, brother, and me to New York’s JFK on a random Sunday just to watch the planes. We’d find a quiet place in one of the terminals (back when nonticketed passengers could do so) for the simple thrill of being amid all this activity, little islands in a sea of travel. We’d scan the skies and runways, searching for different types of aircraft and livery, guessing at their destinations or places of origin. Bonus points were awarded if we spotted a Concorde descending through the clouds (Air France or British Airways), its signature pointy beak bent down in landing position.
As I grew older and began flying frequently, that thrill of being at the airport stayed with me. I love the concept of going into the building knowing that the next time I emerge outdoors I’ll be in another city, state, or country. I still like to find a spot where I can watch the planes take off and land. These days, I give myself bonus points if I spot an Airbus A380. That giant double-deck aircraft is likely bound for Australia or Dubai—by this most tenuous of connections, I’m linked to those far-flung locations on the globe.
I feel as if I’ve entered a special “zone” once I’ve arrived at the airport, one where my everyday world is suspended and I’m now in that magical place called “traveler land.” Despite the hassles often associated with air travel, the airport experience still enchants me. I arrive with plenty of extra time before my flight. From a practical perspective, my strategy minimizes stress, but it also adds a reward of an extra hour or two to my travels. I find the long line at security only mildly irritating because I’m on my way to, say, London or even Pittsburgh.
Whenever that next flight is, I know those soaring spaces, endless jetways—and even those pesky $5 bottles of water—will be waiting for me, ready to welcome me back to “traveler land” and to launch me to some faraway setting.