"It’s not unusual for parents and siblings and aunts and uncles, and grandparents to come and see a missionary off or to welcome them back," said Spencer Fluhman, director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. "It’s normal to come down the escalator from a secure area in the Salt Lake International airport, depending on the time of day and see hundreds of family members waiting to see their returning missionary son or daughter."
When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints return from missionary work, they’re usually greeted at the airport by their entire family, sometimes with professionally made ‘Welcome Home’ banners, balloons, horns and even photographers.
In Salt Lake City -- headquarters of the Mormon church -- those crowds have clogged up the waiting and baggage-claim areas and parking lots at Salt Lake City International Airport, where tens of thousands of church members head out and come back from missions that can last two years. It’s become a problem for an airport that has gained a reputation as being crowded and difficult to traverse at a time when the region’s population is swelling.
So when airport officials began to design a $3.6 billion renovation, they included a new meet-and-greet reception area where missionaries and their families can gather away from the rest of the traveling public.
Lead image from George Frey/Bloomberg; retrieved from bloomberg.com