Recently I've spent a lot of time in airports and it got me to thinking about just how many I've visited over the years. I've been fortunate enough to be able to travel thanks to friends who flew me out, family members who wanted to see me or having flown "buddy pass" because of people with flight benefits. I wanted to clarify that I am by no means jaunting out and about in the blue skies of our world willy nilly but merely thanks to the kindness of people in my life.
My first airport trip, that I can remember, was from Denver to North Carolina, when I was young. My father had just gotten out of military service and had found a job on the east coast. The airports I can remember having visited since then are as follows:
Denver International Airport
Philadelphia International Airport
John F Kennedy International Airport
Dallas-Fort Worth Airport
San Francisco Airport
Los Angeles Airport (LAX)
Las Vegas Airport
Salt Lake City Airport
Honolulu International Airport
Detroit Metro Airport
Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
London Gatwick Airport
Manchester Airport UK
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Those are the ones I can remember anyhow and some of them were for layover flights. The worst layover flight I remember was getting stuck in LAX for a night because all the flights were over-booked. I have never been more frightened. I told my friend to hang on a minute, I had to use the restroom. I went into a stall and cried. Los Angeles is intimidating! I pulled myself together, washed my face in the sink and rejoined my friend to find out where to sleep that night. Then again I was a mere 18 years old and a bit new to things. I got stuck in St Louis for a night, same problem. New York was a fun trip with a History class in high school. I had written an essay that got selected by the teachers so I was able to go see Boston and New York City. Memphis Airport is rather small and Dallas is the largest I've seen, next to LA. Hawaii is gorgeous - open walkways and birds flying about. I was also intimidated by London's Airport - the sheer volume of noise with people, languages, train whistles, buses...I still remember being a bit scared by it all. I love Manchester Airport. It's smaller and much more user friendly. I stepped off my flight last time, drew in a breath, looked around and commented to my sister, "Now THIS is my kind of airport."
I have an airport story that illustrates how small the world is today. I was flying from Denver to Memphis, connecting through Dallas so I could visit my family and surprise my grandmother. I arrived in Dallas and it was about lunch time so I went and got a Happy Meal. I like them for the smaller portion sizes. I went back to wait for my plane and took a seat opposite a nice looking woman. She looked up from her book and commented on how she has a friend that only eats Happy Meals, for the same portion reasons, but that she keeps the toys for her nephews and nieces. Smiling, I thought she was very friendly and sounded up for a chat, so we chit-chatted a bit about this and that, life stuff, my upcoming move, her business dealings in London and such. Turns out she was on my flight only because her connecting flight was cancelled but that we were both in Dallas from Denver on our way to Memphis. The time comes to board the plane, we say goodbye and take our seats. I had such a connection to the woman, I thought her very intelligent and wonderful to talk with so I took out my notebook, wrote her a little note saying how nice it was to meet her, that I knew she'd be great in the new pursuit she was taking and gave her my email if she ever wanted a person to talk with. I waited until the fasten seat belt sign came off and introduced myself, giving her my name and note and took my seat. About 20 minutes later she came back by and gave me her email, as well, saying how nice it was we met. Fast forward to when we land: I get off the plane and, nice woman that she is, she was waiting for me. I had looked at her email and it had the company name of XYZ that a dear family friend works for. I asked her, "Do you by chance know Joey Smith? He works for XYZ and I know it's a long shot but he's had dealings in London, as well..." She laughs, smiles and says, "Oh my! I know Joey, he's a dear friend of mine as well!! I noticed your last name is Couture. Do you know anyone by the name of John Couture? He's a friend of mine." (I'm making up names to protect identities.) I smile broadly, so pleased with this little life surprise and tell her, "John Couture is my father and Joey Smith has known me since I was 5." Two strangers, a different city, in some random airport by chance because her flight was cancelled and she knows my father and my dear family friend.
It's one of those things that just makes me smile both inside and out. If you're reading this, Ms Smith, it was wonderful to meet you!! :)