Descriptive essays are, of course, all about description. However the intention is not to simply provide an itemized account of what is in a picture requiring description, or in this case, to provide a simple account of what is in an airport. Descriptive essays should present the reader with a visual picture based on appearance, smells, textures and so on, based on the five senses. Care should be taken to "describe" in terms of the senses and not offer an opinion as the essay then could become more discursive than descriptive.
Consider your thesis statement and introductory paragraph. Be specific in your description; for example, "An airport is more than its essential elements of size, types of aircraft, a building, a runway and people. It is a cultural experience, a hive of activity and a place where decisions are made and lives are changed forever."
Your thesis statement will help you to remain focused and to describe each element, such as dimensions, aircraft, runway, buildings, people, cultures, activities, lives and so on.
The first step is to imagine an airport. The most striking thing about an airport is its size. By definition, it needs to be large to accommodate planes, some with huge wingspans. However, size is relative and some airports cannot cater to large aircraft because of wingspan or runway length or capacity. Therefore, in getting a sense of the airport you may be describing, the size is important in guiding the reader to a true sense of scale. The reader can already imagine which aircraft may be situated on the apron or runway. Describing those aircraft may be relevant.
Airport buildings in large cities are usually quite impressive but those in smaller, outlying areas may be more about the runway than the building and so describing the building helps to enhance that visual, descriptive picture. Some airports operate all hours and are frantic and loud and light for 24 hours without respite.
Airports are very cosmopolitan; many people, many nationalities and many cultures all converge in one place to make for a fascinating culture all of its own. Should it be an airport catering only to domestic flights, there is still a diverse population. Any airport caters to people from all walks of life. There will be the businessman or woman, the tourist, the traveler visiting beloved family members across states and sometimes countries, child travelers and airport staff themselves, including those who stay on the ground and those pilots and flight attendants who work on the planes. There will also be those who fulfill administrative functions, technical and repair functions, operations, traffic control, emergency services, guest services, and then the retail outlets and restaurants often found in airports.
Airports are incredibly happy places and unbelievably sad places. They unite and they divide. They are lonely places for some and opportunities for learning, advancement and excitement for others.
There are many ways to describe an airport while maintaining a descriptive tone. When your essay is finished, ideally the reader should want to run off and experience the real thing because your description is so inspiring!
Officer: Have you read this, sir? (holds up notice)
Man: No! Oh, yes, yes - yes.
Officer: Anything to declare?
Man: Yes ... no! No! No! No! Nothing to declare, no, nothing in my suitcase no...
Officer: No watches, cameras, radio sets?
Man: Oh yes ... four watches ... no, no, no. No. One... one watch...No, no. Not even one watch. No, no watches at all. No, no watches at all. No precision watches, no.
Officer: Which country have you been visiting, sir?
Man: Switzerland ... er ... no ... no ... not Switzerland ... er ... not Switzerland, it began with S but it wasn't Switzerland... oh what could it be? Terribly bad memory for names. What's the name of that country where they don't make watches at all?
Man: Spain! That's it. Spain, yes, mm.
Officer: The label says 'Zurich', sir.
Man: Yes well ... it was Spain then.
Officer: Zurich's in Switzerland, sir.
Man: Switzerland, yes mm ... mm ... yes.
Officer: Switzerland - where they make the watches.
Man: Oh, nice shed you've got here.
Officer: Have you, er, got any Swiss currency, sir?
Man: No... just the watches... er just my watch, er, my watch on the currency... I've kept a watch on the currency, and I've watched it and I haven't got any.
Officer: That came out a bit glib didn't it?
(an alarm clock goes off inside his the Man's case; the Man thumps it, unsuccessfully)
Officer: Have you got an alarm clock in there, sir?
Man: No, no, heavens no, no... just vests.
(he thumps the case and the alarm stops)
Officer: Sounded a bit like an alarm going off.
Man: Well it can't have been... it must be a vest, er, going off.
Officer: Going off?
(Clocks start ticking and chiming in the case. The man desperately thumps the case.)
Man: All right, I confess, I'm a smuggler ... This whole case is crammed full of Swiss watches and clocks. I've been purposely trying to deceive Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. I've been a bloody fool.
Officer: I don't believe you, sir.
Man: It's true. I'm, er, guilty of smuggling.
Officer: Don't give me that, sir ... you couldn't smuggle a piece of greaseproof paper let alone a case full of watches.
Man: What do you mean! I've smuggled watches before, you know! I've smuggled bombs, cameras, microfilms, aircraft components, you name it - I've smuggled it.
Officer: Now come along please, you're wasting our time... move along please.
(he opens his case to reveal it stuffed full of watches and clocks)
Man: Look - look at this.
Officer: Look, for all I know, sir, you could've bought these in London before you ever went to Switzerland.
Man: What? I wouldn't buy two thousand clocks.
Officer: People do, now close your case and move along please. Don't waste our time, we're out to catch the real smugglers. Come on.
Man: (shouting) I am a real smuggler. I'm a smuggler! Don't you understand, I'm a smuggler, a lawbreaker... a smuggler.
(he is removed struggling. A vicar is next in line).
Vicar: Poor fellow. I think he needs help.
Officer: Right, cut the wisecracks, vicar. Get to the search room, and strip!