Is it okay to surprise my best friend at the airport?
August 26, 2011 2:31 AM   Subscribe

Would it be inappropriate to surprise your best friend at the airport who has been on a long international flight? She'll be arriving alone in Abu Dhabi from Toronto this evening. We haven't seen each other in about five months. See further details below:

I'm thinking about surprising my best friend at the airport this evening. I'm staying at a hotel near the airport and it wouldn't be too bothersome to pop in the arrivals hall and welcome her to Abu Dhabi. We're both international teachers. We've gotten jobs here in the UAE. We taught together last year and Korea and became like sisters. We've supported each other through good times and bad. It's been tough not being able to hang out because we've been separated by many miles of land and ocean!

I know I would have loved to have been greeted by a familiar face when I arrived to this wild city a few weeks ago. I won't take up much of my friend's time, but I just want to say, "WELCOME to Abu Dhabi!" and give her a hug, a nice bottle of water, and some snacks.
posted by thatgirl1985 to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, especially as you would be bringing water and snacks. Those are never looked upon poorly after a long haul flight. I would expect her to be shocked, especially if she doesn't know you are there.
posted by koolkat at 2:37 AM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: Thinking about all the times I've gotten off an international flight and slogged my way to the hotel or home or whatever, there have been many times where it would have been quite nice to have seen a friend or other loved one at the point after I got out of baggage claim and into the arrivals hall. Just to have someone to help carry one of my bags—even the lightest one!—would have been awesome. And if you can help her find her way to the hotel or apartment where she'll be staying, that'd be pretty cool too methinks. But you may want to give her space to take a shower or just crash after she gets to her room (or, she may want a drink or food with or without you) just be prepared to give her space if she needs it.

But, I'm going to say yes. I think this is a good risk to take, I know I would be delighted, overall.
posted by dubitable at 2:38 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think this is a very sweet idea! I love seeing a familiar face at the arrivals hall to ground me and be a second brain for my jetlagged one. Even better is that you're bringing water and snacks!
posted by {quick brown fox} at 2:39 AM on August 26, 2011

I've come home after countless long international flights, and it's always great to see someone you know, especially if they do things like directing the taxi, etc. Do it. If she's like me, she'll be on a high after landing, and then crash an hour later.
posted by tavegyl at 2:42 AM on August 26, 2011

Dissent: no. The one time this happened to me I got so flustered I left my purse in the cab. I was tired and quite focused on --> baggage claim --> taxi stand --> bed and wanted nothing at all to do with another person until I was myself again after a good nap. I don't think it's a terrible idea, but be prepared for a lack of excitement at seeing you, and a quick brush-off, and don't take that personally if it happens.

I would much rather have "Can I come meet you with a bag of [wonderful bakery item] and hug you and help you get your luggage to the cab?" than a surprise. I would be excited about seeing you instead of dealing with a brain that might default to 'Oh #$&@ I smell bad and here's $FRIEND! $#*%'
posted by kmennie at 3:01 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses, you guys. I know how my friend is and she would do the same thing for me if roles were reversed.

A bottle of quality water, light snacks and a hug from a close friend. Sounds like a great way to begin an adventure in a new country.

I already know she's going to be running on empty when she arrives and I think someone from her job will be picking her up at the airport. I'll keep the visit brief and save the gabbing for another day.

Thanks : )
posted by thatgirl1985 at 3:07 AM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: dubitable: " help carry one of my bags—even the lightest one!"

That, and a de-planing care package of things that, while maybe not needed, may be at least a bit humorous. Maybe prepare a list of restaurants that you could take her to if she feels up to it. A basic map of the area, like one of those quick guides published locally can be useful right away

When I get off a plane after a long flight, it is not the huge things, but little stuff that just gets me through the first few hours that make all the difference.
posted by lampshade at 3:11 AM on August 26, 2011

Best answer: Just realise she might not see you if she isn't looking for you- don't be offended! I often glaze over when de-planing, especially if I'm not expecting to meet anyone!
posted by titanium_geek at 3:36 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Every time I come out into Arrivals at an airport and see the crowd of people waiting to welcome friends and family, I feel fleetingly sad that there's nobody there waiting to welcome me. And I'm the introverted loner type, generally perfectly happy travelling alone: there's just something about that specific situation that makes me feel lonely.

In this case, she'll be focused on looking for a stranger with her name on a sign, and may not register you as she scans the crowd, so stay alert. (Or find the stranger yourself first and make yourself known to them, which will also reduce confusion on their part.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:38 AM on August 26, 2011 [10 favorites]

I don't know anything about that airport, but I know I've had crazy trouble trying to find people that I knew I would be meeting... The modernized version of "needle in a haystack" should be "an individual in an airport". On the other hand, if you've nothing to do anyway and think it's a keen adventure, then go for it!
posted by anaelith at 4:24 AM on August 26, 2011

I don't know anything about that airport, but I know I've had crazy trouble trying to find people that I knew I would be meeting... The modernized version of "needle in a haystack" should be "an individual in an airport". On the other hand, if you've nothing to do anyway and think it's a keen adventure, then go for it!

I've never been in an airport where it was hard to find people, provided you know the specific flight they're on. Usually the best place is right as they're leaving the secured area because they have to come out a narrow area.

As everyone else said, this is a fantastic idea. If I were your friend, I would be ecstatic.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:39 AM on August 26, 2011

Response by poster: I know my friend's flight number and can track the flight on my mobile phone at the airport.

The arrivals section of the airport in Abu Dhabi is not that big. I'll be able to find her.

Thanks to everyone for giving me the great feedback.
posted by thatgirl1985 at 5:25 AM on August 26, 2011

I have taken a lot of solo flights and when I land in a place where I don't have anybody, I'm always a little bummed to be left out of the hugging and welcoming going on around me. I would absolutely love to be surprised by a close friend at the gate bearing water and snacks. You rock.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:19 AM on August 26, 2011

Hold up a big card with her name on, have food and drink ready, and a trolley for her bags. You'd be doing an awesome thing. :)
posted by dickasso at 7:00 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dress like a limo driver for added hilarity.
posted by resurrexit at 7:04 AM on August 26, 2011

Yeah, seconding that fleeting pang when arriving alone somewhere and seeing all the families hugging and couples kissing. But I also tend to feel like shit after a red eye, tired and disoriented and dirty. I usually really want cold water and a good coffee and not much chat. You should do it, though, absolutely.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:40 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes yes yes. I hate getting somewhere and not having anyone there. An unexpected dear friend would be an additional bonus. Just be prepared to be flexible. You should be able to tell what she wants--if she's just wanting to get out of there to crash or if she wants to grab a bite or cup of coffee or whatever. Make sure she doesn't feel any pressure to entertain you/be polite.
posted by wallaby at 5:04 PM on August 26, 2011

Response by poster: Well, I was successful! My best friend was completely surprised and we had a great reunion at the airport. We made quite a spectacle at the airport with our hugging and laughter. Abu Dhabi Airport is a pretty subdued place. LOL. I was happy to be able to show my love and support in such a simple way for my "sister-from-another-mister" : ) I recommend everyone do this for friends and family. It was a lot of fun!
posted by thatgirl1985 at 11:59 AM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

You are an amazing friend! Thanks for doing that for your friend!
posted by palegirl at 7:00 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

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