You want people watching with stakes? Hang out at the International Arrivals gate for awhile. Hugs and smiles and screams and tears are commonplace at Arrivals, but every reunion is different. That stoic gentleman standing next to you? That teenager feigning indifference? They light up when that special person walks through the International Arrivals gate, with waves and shouts and a run through the crowd for giant welcome hugs.

The International Arrivals gate is an amplified version of the Domestic Arrivals gate, not just for the distance traveled to get these people face-to-face with each other, but for the big differentiator in International: the reveal. As a passenger you walk off the plane, walk twenty miles to check into the country, stand in line for customs, and then to baggage claim. This process can take minutes or hours, all the while your loved ones await unseen on the other side of a secure door, watching the doors open, hopes rise, but ahh… someone else walking through. Someone else’s reunion, with flowers and signs and joyful celebration. The reveal amplifies the intensity. The anticipation grows, and the doors open and you watch another reunion, and another… until finally you see the person you’re there for and it’s your turn to turn from stoic stranger to wild hand-waver and giant bear-hugger.

As you roll overstuffed bags around the crowd of people staring past you at the gate waiting for the next reveal, it emphasizes our human connection. We’re all the same, really, and we’re all in this together. The International Arrivals gate shows people letting their guard down and being humans connected to other humans. None of the divisive nonsense, just reconnection. And that’s what brought me there too. Reconnection. It’s nice to have the nest full again, if only for a little while.