Original article by: Forbes
LISBON — Over lunch with a few journalists and Catholic leaders one day in this capital city, I described what stunned me more than the beautiful Atlantic coast line and the whimsical tile patterns plated onto residential buildings: Portugal’s deference to parents and families.
Then I gave evidence for that observation:
1) Airport Customs in Lisbon
My wife, two daughters (both under 5) and I arrived in Lisbon after a long journey from North America that involved missing a flight from Toronto, being shuttled to Boston and then Lisbon, spending two days in airports and airport hotels. With no playgrounds at the international terminal in Boston Logan, our family (and others) had to create makeshift games for our kids during an eight-hour flight delay. Our 1-year-old entertained herself by crawling on airport walkways, requiring us to wash her hands, feet and knees repeatedly in a bathroom sink. I pondered why few U.S. airports have the play areas one sees in world-leading airports. My conclusion? Less space to rent to retailers. Why do something nice for family travelers if you can get paid by merchants to sell more loud t-shirts, city-themed snow globes and $4 bottles of water?
Weary from the delays and a Trans-Atlantic flight when we got to Lisbon, we let everyone else get off the plane first. We trudged with bags, carried a sleeping toddler and pushed a fussy infant in a stroller toward the long lines at customs. We mentally prepared for an hour-long wait. Then a worker grabbed me by the arm and said, “Please sir! Come to this line,” pointing to a miraculous sign for a Fast Track lane for Families with small children. It felt like a game of Chutes and Ladders! Zip! All of a sudden the back-of-the-liners became parental VIPs, ushered to the front row.
My wife and I gave each other a high-five and I said, quoting the film Annie, “I think we’re gonna like it here.”