Photo credit: thanhniennews.com
** This is a guest post.
Airports are permanent parts of a traveller’s life and depending on the person, an airport may be their best friend or worst nightmare. Nevertheless, these aviation hubs are among the main pillars that support everyone’s love for travel.
Being a traveller myself, I know there are times when assistance is really needed, especially if it’s the first ever visit to a particular country. Things might even get more difficult if you have no idea how to speak the local language.
As the main entry point of different countries, an airport is where your adventure will start. If your transition doesn’t go well, the rest of the trip can be affected. That’s where volunteers come in. They support travellers, and sometimes the assistance even extends outside the airport.
The positive effects go both ways. I learned about the story of a LAX volunteer through The Huffington Post, and noticed a deep sense of fulfilment in the volunteer as he served one of the busiest airports in the world.
The man was an avid traveller and has visited several continents. But then, the joy he encountered in his volunteer work led him to a change in his life. He provided assistance, shared stories about his own trips, and taught people about caring for tourist attractions as well as other the many countries he’d visited, whether living or inanimate.
Across the Atlantic in London, the airports are also among the busiest in the world, but through the help of volunteers, airport visits are made easier. At London Heathrow, for instance, the volunteer program helps to “improve the passenger experience by adding personalised assistance and a little bit of magic to each terminal.” These individuals are the passenger’s first line of support.
In a blog post by airport parking resource Parking4Less titled “Beware of Cheap Flights Extra Costs“, it detailed how many new travellers fall victim to charges incurred from booking budget airline tickets. This topic, as well as other similar issues, are tackled in volunteer training, and the knowledge they gain are then shared with passengers, especially first-time flyers. Help desks are set up in terminals, ready to answer any question a traveller might have.
Moreover, volunteers are always eager to assist in unexpected situations like retrieving lost items, luggage or family members; reassure anxiety-struck flyers; remind people about responsible tourism and; recommend destinations as well as provide tips for visitors.
In the end, aside from personal fulfilment and the gratitude of the people they’ve assisted, airport management and their corresponding countries also appreciate the efforts of these kind-hearted men and women. For example, PR Web reported that a Miami International Airport volunteer was named Volunteer Ambassador of the Year and received two American Airlines tickets to anywhere in Canada, US, Mexico or the Caribbean. On top of that, three other volunteers each received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award which is the highest honour for volunteers in the entire US.
There are other similar reports out there and essentially they show that, a good deed never goes unrewarded. Should you be interested in giving back to the backpacking community, all you need to do is to get in touch with the airport that you want to serve.
If you’re having hesitations, remember, the first step makes all the difference.