Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Airport Security... How I do Love Thee...

I feel the need to complain. I was at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok and if you were there early Friday morning, August 15, 2009, you would have found me at gate E9 both waiting for my flight to board and also fuming at the incredibly ridiculous rules one is subjected to if one is attempting air travel. As I often do. And to top it off, I had been up for over twenty-four hours. I had been at the airport for about seven hours, and in spite of having had a yummy breakfast of a Whopper with Cheese menu from Burger King, I was not in the best of moods. If I were a woman, you might even say I was PMS-ing.

I have had it to here, HERE I say, with airport security rules. I don’t understand them. Yes, I have seen the signs and I don’t pack ice-skates, axes, canisters of petrol, semi-automatic weapons, kerosene, or even leaf blowers in my carry-on luggage. I know better than that. I’m a safety boy and a good little traveler. But I did happen to have a glass, a real live breakable glass beer mug from Myanmar in my carry-on. In fact, I only had the one backpack, so everything I had with me was destined to be stowed away in the overhead bin.

Anyone who flies knows that the laptop has to come out and be scanned separately, belts tend to be removed, pockets get emptied and any liquid or gel goes into the clear plastic baggies available at the security check for “your convenience”. I would like to know who decided it was convenient for me, because I would like to give them a little cuddle.

So I get to the security check and get asked if I have any liquids. The first thing I pull out is my over-priced waterproof, and it REALLY is waterproof and didn’t once melt into my eyes, sunblock I bought on Ko Samet. I don’t want it as a souvenir, but like most things on an island it was triple the normal price. And as I am quite small, I used only a portion of it. It got confiscated. Why? Because it is in a container of over 100 milliliters. 125ml to be exact. She looked at me as if I had some dastardly plan cooking, to sunblock myself at 36,000 feet.

Then she took my brand new tube of Colgate because there was almost the full 150ml of it. It was the same tube I bought in Sukhothai. The tube I have carried as if it were my own child. And it wouldn’t be so bad if there were size selections in smaller cities and villages. But there aren’t. You bloody well take what they give you, mister! So I will be flying back without my sunblock and without toothpaste. And I was planning on brushing just after security and again just before I landed, as is my ritual. And I had news-worthy Whopper breath!

But what really gets me is the fact that right after she took my sunblock but before she eyed my Colgate gel, I accidentally pulled out the glass mug. Both security people saw it, and I was even forthcoming with the information and said “oh, this is glass” expecting that to be tossed in the bin. I knew that might happen when I took it out of Myanmar. I had been expecting it, really. But they didn’t even flinch and so I put it back in my backpack. I also had miles and miles of cables with me, a laptop, a camera with multiple lenses and multiple batteries. I had a Lonely Planet thick enough to be used as a wheel block for the plane. But what to they take? My sunblock and toothpaste. I forget about the bottle of Kamillosan in my bag, my MAC lipbalm and my FCUK hair wax. All of which should have been in the plastic baggie, none of which were and none of which got noticed or confiscated during the scan. Next time, I will “forget” anything oversized and see what happens. I am always early. I always have time to kill at the airport, might as well have some fun by getting on the nerves of those behind me.

I know this is all about safety and I am all for getting from A to Z without any mid-air disasters, but I don’t get the logic. I can take thick, breakable glass on board, but not toothpaste. They serve the meals with metal knives and forks and glasses. In all classes on Thai Airways, which I happen to be flying. I know this is my fault, I forgot to check the volume, but where is the logic to all of this? Since when is brushing teeth a security issue?

It isn’t even about the amount of the substance, it is about the mount of the substance per package. Last time I took five tubes of the same L’Oreal face wash home and it was no problem. Each package was under 100ml. So had my backpack been filled with hundreds of packets of toothpaste or sunblock, they would not have cared as long as each individual package was under 100ml. Makes no sense to me at all.

And all of this was after being told I could not listen to my iPod or have my mobile turned on in the visa processing center a few days earlier, because batteries were a security hazard. So I turned of my iPod and my iPhone, put them both in the bag that held my digital camera and extra battery which the guard examined and was admitted into the visa processing center by the very same guard.

I am all for rules, but let’s have some logic and some consistency. And some common sense. That is really what gets on my nerves. Well, that and the lady behind me who poured what smelled like gallons of Patpong Girl perfume all over herself while we were descending, but before we got put into an hour-long holding pattern over the Delhi.

1 comment:

  1. (sigh) Don't forget the shoes.... they come off for another slice of my convenience.

    My husband was once "caught" with an electric toothbrush in his carry-on. He had to remove it - allegedly he could BRUSH people to death, or at least the threat of it would be enough to divert the plane, and who would be laughing then, EH??