Frequent fliers at the airport have come to know that "departure day" for hundreds of missionaries who won't see their families for two years draws a crowd to the terminal.
To address the issue, the church sent a letter to its members in the Intermountain West region requesting that some members see off the missionaries before they get to the airport or limit the number of people who wait at the gate for planes to depart, the Deseret News reported.
"Families are discouraged from traveling to the Salt Lake International Airport for missionary departures," states the letter, which was recently read from the pulpits of some local wards, or congregations. "However, if a family feels a need to see a missionary after having sent him or her to the MTC (Missionary Training Center in Provo), they are requested to limit the group to only the immediate family members and to be considerate of other patrons at the airport."
The letter was signed by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve, a key administrative body of the church.
Salt Lake Airport Authority Executive Director Timothy Campbell expressed in a statement "appreciation for any efforts that are undertaken to improve customer service at our facilities."
Traditionally, families of missionaries crowd the airport to say goodbye and return with homemade signs and balloons two years later to welcome them home, taking up the seats usually occupied by travelers at airport gates.