Airports have become the new town square. People come from everywhere, mingle, eat, shop and grab their flight (hopefully on time) to see a loved one, attend an important event, or conclude a business deal. Those who run and staff our airports understand this new dynamic, and work hard to provide services and products to ease the travel experience. It used to be you could get whatever you wanted, as long as it was a hot dog, a slice of cold pizza or a really cheesy gift. Today, the choices are as wide as can be, and that certainly comes in handy when your flight is delayed by bad weather or other causes. Even in the best of circumstances, passengers are arriving earlier to ensure their checked baggage, which they now have to pay for, will make it on time. They are arriving earlier to be sure they make it through security with time to spare. This only adds to the town square feel of the airport, and to the need for airports to present an even more welcoming atmosphere.
There is one more, very important, point to make this Memorial Day season.
It is rare that I walk through an airport and do not see members of our armed forces in uniform. One never knows if they are headed home, or headed back to battle. Airports, airlines, concessionaires and many others have joined together to try to make that part of their experience an enjoyable one. USO’s arrange local volunteers to greet and applaud our returning heroes. Airports and airlines allow them the use of lounges and phones. These scenes are heartwarming — and occasionally heartbreaking. It is easy to notice and remember at a time like Memorial Day. But these scenes happen every day. I am as proud to be part of an industry that makes them possible as I am humbled to be in the presence of such heroes.