I travel quite frequently. As I sit here in Newark Airport (EWR) sipping on burned coffee, trying to stay awake (no Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts in Terminal A), my eyes wander around the terminal at the hustle and bustle. This terminal is quite busy for 5:30 a.m. and it can be quite easy to get frustrated at others in these situations when trying to make a flight on time. There are people running to their gates, others on the phone trying to switch flights and other travelers just like me, ready to start their days perhaps with this crappy, overpriced burned coffee. What is so fascinating to me about an airport terminal are that the journey’s everyone are on are different. It is these different journeys that one must remember when travel frustrations come over us. While I am sitting here ready to fly back to St. Louis and head right to work, others may be heading to a post holiday vacation (lucky them!), others to family, some may have business trips, study abroad trips or unexpected trips that force individuals to travel, ranging from happy occurrences like a birth to other instances like funerals.
On my way home to New Jersey for this past holiday vacation, I had a little bit of a delay and sat around the Southwest terminal in St. Louis for sometime. During this time I had the pleasure of meeting a man named Aldo. Aldo had a story. Aldo, a member of the United States Army, was traveling from Germany, where he was stationed back home to New Jersey for the holidays. In order for Aldo to get home for the first time in awhile, he had to take four planes to make it to New Jersey. Aldo had been traveling for over 30 hours! His wife and son left previously and had already arrived in the U.S. I learned that Aldo and I had taken the same cruise in Greece, he loved traveling (like me!) and had been in the Army for some time. He was a cool guy and I am glad we met. What was even cooler, was that when we got to Newark I said goodbye at luggage claim and introduced him to my father, a United States Army Veteran where they talked “army” for a minute.
Every individual in an airport has a story. It is up to us to realize that and make those deeper connections when presented the opportunity to. Airports are filled with emotions – happy, sad, excited, anxiousness--there are a plethora of emotions! You can find all of this right in an airport terminal. I guarantee it. By making these connections you can foster a relationship, if just for that moment, that can make someone’s day. These connections are powerful. These connections can be so important to someone at that moment in time. Next time you travel, introduce yourself to your seat mate, the individual at that airport bar or anyone you may encounter, you never know who you’ll meet or who’s day you’ll make.