One of my favorite movies is “Love Actually,” released in 2003. You can read the Internet Movie Database post for details about the movie. I really love how all the romantic stories are put together, but my favorite parts are the beginning and the end.
Both were shot in London Heathrow Airport and show a wonderful collage of people greeting each other in the arrivals area. I listened to director/writer Richard Curtis’s commentary on that scene. He just parked a camera there for a few weeks and edited it down to the collage. I actually spent Christmas 1998 in London and got to see this play out as I waited for my luggage and my friend.
I am a frequent traveler and one of my favorite thins to do is to watch people showing the love to those arriving and departing. One time on a trip to Miami in 1985, a very enthusiastic Haitian family mistook me for a loved one. I was startled for a moment, but I still tear up to this day when I remember how loved I felt by these complete strangers until the mix-up was fixed.
And I know a lot of people just hate Heathrow Airport, but I’m not one of them. My family moved in England in 1970 when I was six years old. We landed at Heathrow, and I thought it was the most magical place on earth. Fast forward to 1995 when I flew into the airport to cover the Farnborough Air Show, and I was still transfixed. I love the proper British accents doing the announcements. I love the myriad shops (Harrods and Boots, to name a few) where you can pick up a piece of the UK. And I especially love all the airline liveries from around the globe, especially flag carriers you don’t always see in the United States.
I practically fall into a swoon when I think about my time in British Airways’ T5 terminal (you can see my pictures on Flicker). Yes, there were issues building it. Yes, the airline was embarrassed when a baggage snafu marred the grand opening (attended by Queen Elizabeth, no less). But the pieces are in place, and it has become one of my favorite terminals — right up there with Singapore’s Changi Airport, San Francisco’s international terminal and Seoul, South Korea’s Incheon Airport.
So wherever you go during the holidays , I hope you feel the love of the season. And take a second to let the magic of the airport sink in!