The NewSLU

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University Madrid Campus

The NewSLU

The NewSLU

Postcard from…Gatwick Airport

Our reporter captures the feel of a familiar moment in student travel: the wait at the gate.
Lara Mitchell
Passengers tote luggage on a moving sidewalks at Gatwick airport in England.

In the ambience of the airport, groups of people wait eager for the gate information to be revealed. As the screen flickers and the numbers appear, crowds that were previously at a stand-still pick up their luggage to start to make it to the gate. An elderly couple, waiting anxiously at the screen, recognizes that the family next to them is also waiting for the same information. They exchange conversations, assuming their flight has been delayed or the gate has not been assigned yet. On the walk to find the gate, men in sharp suits overtake others on the escalator, their expressions taut with determination. Families, bundled in layers of clothing, navigate through throngs of people. A small boy, no older than 10, stops amidst the crowds and causes the family behind to stop suddenly. The worried mother grabs her child out of the way and begins to lecture him about his actions.

The gentle hum of conversations ebbs and flows, a harmonious blend of languages. Overhead speakers crackle to life, transmitting announcements that echo throughout the concourse. The high-pitched whine of luggage wheels on polished floors echoes throughout the hall, and in the distance, suitcases are being rolled on the escalator with a rugged-but-satisfying sound. A vehicle passes by, with its siren on full blast to warn people of its presence, carrying luggage and passengers to the gate.

The unmistakable scent of coffee wafts from kiosks, and from the hands of the numerous takeaway cups, and mixes with the sweet allure of freshly baked pastries. Over by the fast-food court, the savory aroma of sizzling burgers and fried chicken tempts travelers’ palates. At the duty-free shops, fragrances of luxury perfumes and colognes punctuate the air, inviting passersby to sample their olfactory delights. The smell of cleaning products and mop water invades the hall as staff hesitantly attempt to deal with a spillage, the culprit seeming to have fled the scene.

Passengers clutch their belongings — backpacks and suitcases of soft leather or hard plastic. Hand after hand, people rest their fingertips on the belt of the escalator. A mother holds her hand out awaiting the grasp of her child to continue walking. On arrival at the gate, passengers one after the other begin to enter the line. A passenger traveling alone unzips his luggage and rummages carelessly through the largest pocket. He sighs with relief after pulling out his passport and grasps it firmly.


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