It’s been clichéd before, most notably in the opening credits of the film ‘Love Actually’, but there really is no better place to people watch than at an airport. Some people have the ignominious task of forever dropping people off at or collecting them from airports but, setting aside the race every time to the airport so your guests don’t think you’ve forgotten them, you have the benefit of a captive audience, all expected to do the same thing but unnervingly all managing to do it differently.
For departures you have the lingering sad goodbyes; the younger the passenger the more lingering and embarrassing the farewell and of course, the character that’s still in holiday mode, or so keen to show off his tan to prove that he’s been on holiday that he’ll stand there at the check in desk, and whilst all the other passengers flying to Moscow Domodedovo Airport in January have their fur coats on ready, he’ll be in shorts, straw trilby and wide open shirt. There’s the family checking in the biggest suitcases you’ve ever seen and still managing to be under the weight allowance whilst your little carry on has attracted a surcharge of €10,000 for being a kilo overweight. Then there’s the ‘guess where they’re flying’ competition; bright red complexions; Britain, gloomy looks: Russia, loud; America, dressed like models; France or Italy.
And at the car hire desk you’ll find the nervy dad handing back the key and standing in an awkward position to conceal the scrape where his wife opened the door onto wall that she swore wasn’t there before. Turning our attention to arrivals, when the automatic door after customs swings open there’s the startled look from the arriving passengers a la the children’s TV series Mr Benn, as if they are surprised to walk out into an airport arrivals hall. You have the infrequent flyers who don’t know which way to walk and those scanning the crowds of people waiting to spot a familiar face hidden among the dozens of courtesy drivers with their forest of name signs held aloft, almost always spelt incorectly.
The best though are the young family, new born baby in arms, meeting grandparents for the first time, the dads meeting young daughters returning from a gap year travelling around the world, the ‘so in love’ couples, of any age, that have missed each other so much and the best mates overjoyed at being reunited. To cliché the cliché, at airport arrivals, love really is all around!