Vacation at the Airport

Posting about an author who spends a week at an airport may scare people away after all the airport shutdowns and plane cancellations of the past week. But, Alain de Botton’s book, A Week at the Airport is that unusual nonfiction title that should get some notice and a wide readership. This small pithy book that you can read in an afternoon is a travel memoir about going nowhere and is unlike anything else you may have read.

de Botton, the author of the acclaimed How Proust Can Change Your Life, took on an unusual assignment in 2009. He was approached by an airport executive who wanted to hire an author in residence  to reside on the airport grounds of England’s legendary Heathrow airport for one week and then write about his observations. The author took the challenge and produced this quirky and charming book that is accompanied by Richard Baker’s beautiful photographs.

DeBotton was stationed at a desk in Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 where he gathered his philosophical insights.  He reflects in his accomplished writing style about airport security guards, immigration personnel, shoe shine men, passengers looking for their luggage, and first class lounges where the elite wait and dine in luxury before their flights. Feeling a bit like a voyeur, the reader will experience and see pictures of previously restricted airline areas such as the baggage reclaim area with 17 kilometres of conveyor belts and the factory a mile from the terminal where 80,000 breakfasts, lunches and dinners are prepared daily.

After reading this book you may feel differently about spending your required time at the airport and may look at it as part of your travel adventure.

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