In the last 20 hours I’ve crossed a jet bridge — or its official industry name, passenger boarding bridge (PBB), also called jetway, gangway, aerobridge/airbridge, air jetty, portal, and skybridge, according to my reliable (but academically unacceptable) friend Wikipedia — 5 times, and in about 3 hours I’m crossing my 6th, the last one to my final destination which is the work part of this work + leisure trip.
The jet bridge is basically this claustrophobia-inducing movable tunnel that’s an inevitable part of most air travel. It’s usually gray, cold and dead, giving one the feel of passing through lit-up gigantic drainage pipes. Some airports and airlines try to beautify it with upbeat posters and murals. One gets to appreciate this effort when there’s a pileup (usually going into the plane) and people get stuck in the bridge for several minutes; having pictures to look at or quotes to read can be a helpful distraction as one waits for the passengers who boarded ahead to stow their luggage and take their assigned seats, or in some instances such as one I witnessed earlier, to settle a quarrel amongst themselves (“You shoved my bag and hurt me, it’s unacceptable! What did I do to you to deserve that?!”).
I believe jet bridges are witnesses to countless crucial moments. Oh, if they were magically alive, able to see the people that go through them and hear not just their conversations but even their thoughts, I bet jet bridges would have some good stories to tell. Across that brief limbo between the plane and the airport, so many people must have wept in sorrow after having just said a final goodbye to people they love, or else felt their hearts beat so fast in anticipation of a new chapter in their lives. Couples, families and groups of friends have whispered or chattered in excitement over a much-awaited trip; lonely creatures have wondered in half-dread, half-hope, what they would find on the other end. Then there must have been many of those nice little scenes that very few notice, like the one I saw just a few moments ago involving skilled and gracious crew members assisting elderly people in wheelchairs, and their equally gracious customers.
I can imagine, if jet bridges were also able to talk to one another, how their tête-à-têtes would go:
“You should’ve seen this girl. She was so heartbroken, dreaded arriving at the airport and facing her mother’s death, she was dragging her feet from the plane.”
“I had a number of those today, too. But I had lots of merry hearts as well, like this couple who couldn’t stop giggling in excitement and love.”
“Honeymooners, for sure.”
“Yup. Always a lovely sight to watch.”
I’m being silly writing about talking jet bridges, but hey, people have always romanticised all kinds of bridges and this underdog deserves a little love, too. It is, after all, the only kind of bridge (that I know of) that takes one from immobility to flight, or vice versa. Sounds profound, right? 😀
Do you ever have any fascination for bridges, too? Maybe not as weird as mine? I would love for you to share about it 🙂