Airport Stories

July 16, 2011

The summer travel season is upon us and for many that may involve passing through an airport or two. Airports are hives of story-worthy activity as many writers have discovered. A little dated now, but Arthur Hailey’s 1968 Airport was a popular tale in its day and though it might feel a bit nostalgic its thrilling premise will likely stand the test of time.

One of my favourite movies “Love Actually” begins with an emotion packed arrivals hall scene at Heathrow Airport. Hugh Grant’s character (the PM of England) voices this lovely introduction to the multiple stories in the show:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling love, actually … is all around.” 

Watch it here with tissues handy: Love Actually

More recently, but also at Heathrow, present day philosopher and writer Alain de Botton, spent a week in Terminal 5 as “Writer in Residence” observing and recording the stories unfolding around him. His musings were captured in the 2009 book A Week At the Airport. de Botton was a well qualified choice as he’d previously written The Art of Travel which explores our attitudes toward, and perceptions of, travel in general.


Still at Heathrow, and just for fun as it’s not really bookish, I include this wildly popular T-Mobile advertisement from 2010 showing a warm hearted flash mob striking in the Arrivals hall.

T-Mobile \”Welcome Back\” at Heathrow Terminal 5

And now to present day and the creative celebration of YVR’s (Vancouver International Airport’s) 80th anniversary … A call-out has been issued for a Storyteller – a gifted and committed tale teller – to reside at the Airport for 80 days and 80 nights in order to capture a portfolio of the stories that go on within the depths of the airport community. Read more about this exciting Live@YVR opportunity and review the applications.

Live at YVR

Deadline for submissions is July 18th, 2011. YVR will present 5 finalists on which the public can vote from July 25th through to August 5th. The mission will begin for the winning “Writer in Residence” on August 17th. I’m sure we’ll be tuning in for the revelatory stories from behind the scenes. Good viewing and good reading ahead!

3 Responses to “Airport Stories”

  1. Pam Says:

    Thanks for sharing the Heathrow flashmob – fabulous!

  2. Al Says:

    Was just picking up a long gone child (3 weeks to Africa) and it was so neat to spend an hour in the arrivals area as Vancouver has all the drama, adventure and love that Heathrow has. It’s so heartwarming to see and to experience reunions with the ones most important to you. Truly the airport exemplifies this as one only go to pick up those they love so all the reunions there are joyful. Great to remember the Love Actually movie as that is one of my favourites too! Thanks Sue!

  3. […] introduced you to a few literary connections to airports a while ago (here) and since then have heard of a few updates to share with […]

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