Magazine article Anglican Journal

Anonymity, Stress Contribute to Inhuman Treatment (in Airports)

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Anonymity, Stress Contribute to Inhuman Treatment (in Airports)

Article excerpt

AIRPORTS ARE places where I have spent a great deal of my life since I was called to a responsibility requiring so much travel.

Over the years the time spent in airports for each trip has increased. Security requirements mean longer time before departure and the complexities of baggage handling often entail longer time after arrival.

An architect cousin taught me how to use airport time to study the place as a building, to examine its design and compare its efficiency with others I know.

But he also taught me to look for the ways the airport acts to serve, to protect, even to minister to the people who work in it and those who pass through it.

This exercise has given me the habit of closer observation, even in airports I know well. One such place is Heathrow, a huge international airport where things are always changing.

Since last fall, large new signs have appeared there, especially at congested spots. In departure areas the signs are prominent at the security lineup, in arrival areas, and they appear before the immigration desks.

The signs remind passengers in clear language that harassment of airport personnel will not be tolerated. Some signs are posted by the airport authority with regard to their staff, others by the government for benefit of immigration officers. (I have witnessed scenes at airline counters which suggest that similar signs are needed to shield airline personnel from abuse.)

The signs remind even a seasoned traveler like myself that the level of stress associated with travel is increasing, and that we all easily become its victims, even to the point of victimizing others as we try to relieve the stress.

Even though many airport personnel wear name badges, and all travelers are carrying identification, there is a high level of anonymity about personal encounters in airports. …

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