Lost airport balloons in Israel – the gift that gives again

Balloons being retrieved at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (Photo: screenshot)

A heart-warming video produced by Israeli news service Yedioth Ahronoth has received over 1 million views since being posted on Jan. 19 showing what Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport does with the myriad of colorful, helium balloons that were purchased by greeters welcoming arriving travelers, and which then escaped up to the high ceiling in the arrivals hall.

The Ben Gurion arrivals hall is a joyful place where friends and families wait for newcomers to the land or those who have been away from home. Shouts of happiness are often heard as travelers emerge from the customs hall and out into the arrivals plaza.

A nearby shop sells flowers and balloons – and it is common to see new arrivals given hugs, kisses and a balloon emblazoned with “I Love You,” “Israel” or a cartoon animal.

Very often the balloons don’t make it home, and they float up to the ceilings – but Israel’s Airport Authority does not throw them away. Indeed, since 2003, when Terminal 3 was opened, the balloons have been gathered once or twice a week and brought to children in hospitals around the country. The video records the balloons being taken to Chaim Sheba Medical Center in the Tel Aviv area.

Although the airport uses cranes as well, the video shows how airport employees also personally collect the balloons. We see a young employee, Samita, gathering the balloons one by one. She does this by floating up and guiding a large helium balloon with I LOVE YOU on it, specially fitted with double-sided tape that attaches to the balloons on the ceiling. Samita then carefully draws each balloon down.

The sight may remind us of Yeshua going out to collect us, His lost sheep, one by one. And, in an act of love, the balloons are shared with sick children, to help them in their pain.