BigTravelNews.info - Dec 21,2010 - Across America (CNN) -- 'Tis the season for packed airports, when Americans take flight to spread holiday cheer.
Economy lots will fill. Stuffed shuttles and cars will wind their way to terminals. A sea of strangers will stream down concourses to flood gates.
Many travelers may reserve airport journeys for this time of year. But as they head to and pass through these sprawling buildings, en route to or from faraway destinations, they will move past the faces of those who come to airports daily, without boarding passes.
Beyond the airline and security employees, the ones everyone comes into contact with, these are some of the workers holiday travelers might not notice.
Miami International Airport, Florida
Standing at the jewelry kiosk where she's worked for three years, Maria Sevilla, 24, welcomes a visitor to her community.
From her "house" on Concourse H, she points out the tallest barista across the way at Starbucks. "He's like a little brother to me," she says. She mentions how she just became a godmother to her newsstand neighbor's baby and the TSA agent who, whenever he passes by, serenades Sevilla with her favorite song, Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come."
She was out for a couple of weeks and everyone asked about her. When others go on a break and she's working alone, they bring her lunch. Should someone be short a few bucks on any given day, they spot one another.
"It's like a little neighborhood," she says, before shouting "Bye, babe," to the waving Quiznos worker heading home for the day.
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Strolling by with an empty wheelchair is Diana Misla, 39, who has been transporting passengers through this airport for five years. The job keeps her active -- she can't even guess how many miles she covers each day -- and exposes her to all kinds of people and stories. From the sick and elderly to the injured, young or disabled, she's meeting them all.
A crowd gathers at a gate from which travelers to and from Cuba often stream.
Misla says she's picked up people from those flights who haven't seen their relatives for decades or are meeting family members for the first time. It's hard to not be moved by the reunions she witnesses up close, right over people's shoulders.
"I cry right along with them," she says of such moments.
Philadelphia International Airport, Pennsylvania
Look for Latanya Spain on Christmas Day, when she'll be working behind a wheel with no complaints.
Sixteen to 20 times a day, she drives a shuttle bus to the airport from an offsite parking lot, responding to dispatch calls, loading baggage sometimes bigger than she is and appreciating the passengers and her co-workers, who are like extended family.
It's a job she's been doing for four years, and Christmas is a workday she has yet to miss.
It may be the season of giving, but Spain, 36, says she doesn't