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It was risky, but I was willing to give it a try.  On my trip across the nation I did not want to be separated from my luggage.  This was one trip where I just didn’t want to take that chance.

My journey was a short one of two nights.  If I packed judiciously, then I could try making my trip with carry-on luggage only.  It would be a challenge.

Carefully,  I thought through all that I would need for my speaking engagement.  Clothing would have to be purposeful and packed compactly.  With Spartan-like determination I didn’t pack “just in case” items.

Smiling down at my selections, my carry-on bag closed easily.  It is well-worn after decades of service when I have mercilessly sent it into the cavernous checked luggage option at countless airports around the world.  On a recent trip my luggage went one way and the airlines sent me on another.  It caught up with me after a day and a half . 

The signs at security reminded us that we had to have all of our liquids out in a see through bag.  Groan!  I had forgotten.

All of my liquids were in 3 oz containers or less but they were buried in my luggage.  I had to open up my case, dig them out and close my bag all while sliding my stuff along the stainless sterile steel counter.  The agent announced, “If you’re the first one in line at the counter, please slide your items ahead of you to make room for other passengers.”

Yes, that announcement was done for me.  Have you ever felt the eyes of many impatient people burning holes in the back of your head?  Yup, I started sweating up a storm.

It so discombobulated me that I sent my stuff through the x-ray machine but forgot all of the stuff still in my pockets: cell phone, wallet, money clip, wrist watch, pen.  Groan!  I felt like a rookie on my first airplane trip. 

Of course as I stepped up to the scanner with hands full of the forgotten items, I had to rip off my belt at the last-minute.  Naturally, that gesture made me drop my ID on the floor.  I bent to pick it up and again slowed down the line for everyone else. More groan!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

If I were ever pressed to give testimony on how many times that I have been through airport security, I would not have a clue.   Even if I could get close to that historical number, I would forget to double the number since that departure usually includes a return.  Of course there are additional scans in airports that serve as connecting flights, some times.

International flights are even more complicated. I have travelled through the UK several times. They speak English, sorta.  When they give instructions, I try not to look lost or annoyed but I really don’t know what they want me to do. 

The Israeli security is the most thorough.  Their staff is multi-lingual, paramount professionals and highly efficient.  With them I have understood every detail of their instructions.  There was no misunderstanding.

It is shocking to me that while I have gone through the process again and again I don’t always not know what I need to do to make the process smooth and trouble-free.  This experience should be instinctive by now.   

I have one goal when I approach this inevitable part of any air travel journey.  No matter what airport or what the situation I want to go through security like a consummate pro, unflappable and down to a system.  It hasn’t worked yet.

Once I choose a line I don’t look at other lines. Historically,  I choose the slowest line of any options. The only time that this doesn’t apply is when there is only one line to choose. That’s when TSA agents take a lunch break just as I strip off all of my outer garments.

Now, I have to take off my boots too.  It’s fine.  They come off easily.  There’s enough bling on my boots that would set off the alarm.  So, my heart can hope for a clean bill of health.

But, that all depends on the level that they set the sensitivity.  Once, I went through unscathed but noticed that I had left my Western belt buckle on.  That happened only once. 

After hearing that buzzer sound so many times I have a list of items that will trip the alarm.  My money clip will set it off.  Also, my rubber watch has enough metal in it to trigger the annoying metal detectors.  Every belt I own sends back a sonar wave back to the reader.  I feel like such an international criminal every time that machines screams with its sinister scowl.

photo credit: google image