Thursday 15 February 2007

Air Travel and Luggage

You cannot fly anywhere without any luggage. Well, unless you go for just a day but I can't imagine doing that. You would have to start off way too early in the morning and travel home late at night. Or just fly a short distance. Even then you have to carry a book, or iPod, or in my case a Passport. Perhaps a camera, wallet (with cash and credit cards), oh and do not forget the good old mobile phone. Quite frankly, I am still not sure how men are coping without hand bags these days!

Ever since 9/11, the airlines and more specifically, the companies subcontracted to do airport security and who run the shops in the airports are making loads of money. Sorry, I might get blasted for this but I just don't care.

On my trip to Berlin, I turned up at the airport 2 hours before departure time. Good thing. I might have missed the flight otherwise.

I got into the queue of over 25 people. There were four other queues I could have joined. they were all longer than the queue I joined. I suddenly had a moment of panic that I was in the wrong queue and asked a BA employee if I needed to be in this queue. No, he told me. I could self-service check-in at some kiosks. I got out of the queue, relieved although slightly wary of what I was supposed to do with my luggage after I "self-serviced". I stuck my passport in the designated spot. It was rejected and I was instructed to go to a service desk. I had to rejoin the queue I had been in. Now there were 30 people. No one had actually finished at the front of the queue. 5 more people had joined.

After waiting a very long time, I got my bag checked and thought, hurrah, time to shop in duty free. Carrying my hand bag and my briefcase with my laptop in it, I set off to go through security. I was rejected. I was told that I could not carry a hand bag and a briefcase. I can have 1 piece of carry on luggage not much bigger than a postage stamp. (ALERT: That was a slight exaggeration. Actual size restrictions here.)

So what are my options here? I am not going to leave my hand bag or my briefcase here to be left behind and thrown away. Nor am I going to check either one of these items. I tried to combine them into one but that was a losing battle. And I can't put anything in my suitcase because I have just stood in a very long line for a very long time and checked the darn thing!

So off I go. I stop at the first place that looks like it might have some luggage on sale. They wanted £115 (~$230) for a small duffel bag. Somehow I don't think I can expense that. I carry on looking well aware that my time for shopping is quickly dwindling. On the verge of tears, I find a canvas bag for £15 and snap it up. I cram everything into it.

As I start to pass through the same security zone, the man is yelling something about liquids, bottled drinks and lip gloss. I reply that I don't need anything, thanks! Somehow I don't think that is exactly what he meant. But I am running out of time.

Now I am at the x-ray machine. I have to unpack the canvas bag to get the laptop out to put it through the machine. Then repack it. Then unpack to put the laptop back in. Then repack it. Was this one bag thing supposed to be saving time? Or is it just a way to get under my skin? One queue had to remove their shoes but my queue didn't. Some had to remove their coats. Some didn't. Somehow this whole security thing seemed rather random to me. To make matters worse, there were many women carrying 2 bags: 1 handbag, 1 other bag. Annoyed does not even begin to describe my feelings at this point.

By the time I have finished the security workout, I am sweating and thirsty. I race to a shop to grab a diet time for shopping! As I go down the concourse, I pause on the moving sidewalk, open the diet coke, and start quenching my thirst. I reach the end of the moving sidewalk. There is a sign. "No unsealed drinks beyond this point." I have drank exactly 1/3 of my bottle of diet coke and I am now being instructed to throw it away. I am not the only one. A man and woman are standing in front of me, chugging their hot coffees. I drink the whole bottle of diet coke, burp really loud and chuck the bottle into the rubbish bin. They aren't even recycling!

My arm and shoulder is aching because what was nicely balance in 2 bags is now killing me in 1 bag. I have to pee because I've just chugged a whole litre of diet coke and they have already boarded most of the plane. And I'm in a middle seat at the back of the plane.

I am not in a good mood.

1 comment:

Janell said...

I know your ordeal was a lot harder to live through than it was to read about; I chuckled most of the way through it, although you had me in a cold sweat with the time crunched shopping for a bag. The burp made me laugh out loud. You are a natural storyteller.
I'm glad you're back. It was getting way too quiet and lonely out here in cyberspace without you.