No, I didn’t spend my last week, or even this past weekend, at the airport. Instead, I read Alain de Botton’s A Week at the Airport, which was a rather random suggestion from my librarian. He picked well though as I ended up loving it!
In 2009, de Botton was invited by British Airways to be the first ever writer-in-residence at an airport, specifically Heathrow Terminal 5. Billeted at an onsite hotel and given a desk in the terminal, he spent a week poking around with unlimited access to all aspects of the airline industry, from the CEO to the janitorial staff in the first class lounge. The result is a curious compilation of anecdotes and fascinating facts behind travel that we don’t normally think about as we hurry frustratedly though an airport.
I don’t feel like it’s fair to give this text a full review and rating since it’s more of a brochure than a book as the author admits himself. Coming in at around a hundred pages, he packs quite a punch into the small space. His expressive descriptions of passengers and staff almost made me weep a few times due to their existential elegance. De Botton turned the mundane of travel into poetry, whether he was discovering the process by which airplane food was made or going behind the scenes at with the officers manning the security checks.
His ode to air certainly moved me to begin planning my next trip! And for once I’m excited about not just the destination, but the journey.