(RNS) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has askedfamilies seeing off church missionaries from the Salt Lake City airportto limit the number in their entourages to reduce congestion.

Frequent fliers at the airport have come to know that "departureday" for hundreds of missionaries who won't see their families for twoyears draws a crowd to the terminal.

To address the issue, the church sent a letter to its members in theIntermountain West region requesting that some members see off themissionaries before they get to the airport or limit the number ofpeople who wait at the gate for planes to depart, the Deseret Newsreported.

"Families are discouraged from traveling to the Salt LakeInternational Airport for missionary departures," states the letter,which was recently read from the pulpits of some local wards, orcongregations. "However, if a family feels a need to see a missionaryafter having sent him or her to the MTC (Missionary Training Center inProvo), they are requested to limit the group to only the immediatefamily members and to be considerate of other patrons at the airport."

The letter was signed by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum ofthe Twelve, a key administrative body of the church.

Salt Lake Airport Authority Executive Director Timothy Campbellexpressed in a statement "appreciation for any efforts that areundertaken to improve customer service at our facilities."

Traditionally, families of missionaries crowd the airport to saygoodbye and return with homemade signs and balloons two years later towelcome them home, taking up seats usually occupied by travelers atairport gates.