Doing the ‘Custom and Border protection shuffle.’


If you think that hours spent on a flight is less than riveting, spare a thought of what now goes on before the flight. I am not surprised people are flying less. This is our story.

You arrive with the minimum luggage. A back pack each or just a shoulder bag. The waiting at carousels after a long and dry flight is hardly encouraging to take suitcases or as I saw, huge surf boards or jet skis. Before one just used to go through the immigration or custom officers and get your boarding pass and number. Not anymore now.

The first hurdle is to get your ticket validated. After that the immigration or custom procedure. This is were I was astonished beyond and from behind. Fair enough, the luggage (Shoulder bags) were put through a scanning device. A tray was handed in in which to put all metal objects such as watch, coins, jewellery and electronic devices. All apparatus operated by batteries had to be switched on before the scanner, proving their function as legitimate. I know that bombings are to be prevented but does anyone know of a single aeroplane that came down as a result of a passenger blowing up the plane while travelling?

The worst is yet to come; There is always a tension, palpable amongst all plane travellers. The atmosphere is thick and hanging heavily and not a word is spoken. With all the instant news on terrorism and beheading videos, one scans nervously for any sign of a sword or machine gun. Not a tree or blade of grass insight. Nothing to give visual comfort to the hapless traveller now asked to go personally through a scanner as well. ” Take your belt off and place in the tray, shoes too.” Men and women in separate rows now. Husbands, wives and children are now put about 10 meters apart and a female starts to pat down the rows of females and a man the men. Shades of Buchenwald arise in this traveller. Men are shoeless and holding up their pants. All their belongings now disappear into the darkness of a scanner together with their jackets and pullovers.

imagesHHK8BQMOthe patting down

After the patting down, no machine gun comes out of my trousers, which, because of my skinniness has to be held up by both my hands. I have no hips. I hop towards a personal enclosure where I see a man holding up both arms while a sinister custom officer is looking at a screen. I finished the hopping and enter the steel enclosure where I am told to put my socked feet on a painted space on the floor indicating a left and right foot. Hold up your arms and look straight ahead, the man ordered. My pants slid down at half mast. “You still have metal somewhere”, the man stated. I pointed to my hearings aids which have batteries. “Take them off and re-enter again, he ordered.” I bend down to lift my trousers glad I wasn’t inspected internally or worse, given an spontaneous colonoscopy on the run. I got through and was met by hordes of men tucking in shirts and arranging their private parts in a certain order. Putting on shoes and belts. The relief was instant. One man cracked a joke and another giggled nervously.

Women were busy squeezing hair shampoo and conditioners into smaller 100mil bottle avoiding having to surrender anything larger than a 100mil container. One women was scooping Nescafe into small bottles. She had bought a half kilo of Nescafe. Don’t ask me why? Was she thinking of selling or making coffee on Jetstar? Another sign of a traveller’s frugality was toothpaste being squeezed and divided into smaller bottles. How do you get toothpaste out of a bottle. Do you scoop it onto a brush with a match stick or suck it out? Huge bottles of Eau de Cologne were confiscated together with tins of Arnotts biscuits. One man was travelling with cigars. All taken away. Only duty free goods and securely and officially wrapped was allowed through.

images the hapless traveller

The flying is a breeze compared getting on or off aeroplanes. I wonder how far this hysteria is going to go? Will we be asked to bring a sample of a stool next? ( they too can be pretty explosive) Will we finally be subjected to such lengthy and personal procedures that only the most foolhardy will fly. I know they are trying to avoid disasters but I haven’t yet heard of single plane being blown up by a passenger on board. (Perhaps excluding above Somalia or Liberia)

Surely crossing the street while texting is much more dangerous.

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16 Responses to “Doing the ‘Custom and Border protection shuffle.’”

  1. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I’ve done variations of these checks in the UK and the US. They’re uncomfortable, but I accept them (we are lucky and can go by train in Europe). There have been bombs detonated on planes (the Lockerbie bomb) and several others which didn’t go off properly, or were picked up in time (in shoes and underpants) and attempts with explosive liquids… so maybe it’s worth it. I was first patted down in Nairobi in 1972!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I am not sure about all this. Why do all this twice now? Once through customs and then again before entering the plane. Oddly enough all those laptops, tablets and IPhones could easily conceal explosives, yet banning those would spell the end of travel. No one can now live without being anchored to IT devices.

      Liked by 1 person

    • berlioz1935 Says:

      Lockerbie was an inside job as probably MH 370 was.

      Pan AM flight 103 was known to insiders as CIA flight. About 30 agents were killed.

      MH370 had about 30 computer specialist on board on their way to a company conference.


  2. Andrew Says:

    Switching on the laptop or iPad is going to be a pain. I consciously choose to fly less nowadays. I refuse to visit the USA. I don’t believe the measures are proportionate. Every time they add another layer of security somewhere someone is working out how to beat it. Futile. Yesterday I met somebody who won’t fly with airlines that have Muslim pilots – suicide risk. Where will it end?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      It is impossible to be 100% safe anywhere. Security is now overstated and adherence to life absurd. Surely, a more philosophical stance is required. Stats clearly prove crossing a street carries more risk than flying. Do we stop crossing streets or dig tunnels?
      Should we all sit home with the lights off wearing dark glasses and drink milk?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Always makes me wonder who is winning the war. And yes, travel isn’t nearly as fun as it used to be. I suspect there will come a time when the freedoms we have lost won’t match up to the danger we face. –Curt


  4. mrs1943 Says:

    But Gerard, this has been going on for yonks in Europe ! It ain’t new, surely, this business of international travel safety precautions ? I think you’re just grumpy because of having to hold your pants up with both hands …[grin]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    That might well be true Mrs 1943, but I still think it is all been done to strike fear in us. Politicians capitalise on this.
    I think I’ll be wearing pull-ups next time with an elastic waistband. That will fool them! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Patti Kuche Says:

    I’ve simply assumed the whole process of security checks is to keep the unemployment statistics down . . .


  7. rod Says:

    I don’t like flying. For a start, you have top go to airports.So my choice is to travel between the ears, adopting the line from Sir Edward Dyer ‘My mind to me a kingdom is.’


  8. auntyuta Says:

    “Only duty free goods and securely and officially wrapped was allowed through.”
    This is big business, isn’t it? 🙂


  9. auntyuta Says:

    Gerard, poor Peter became extremely agitated at Shiphol Airport in November 2012. That he had to take his laptop out of the bag again after it had just been checked, made him very, very angry. The very nice Dutch custom’s officer talked nicely to him in a very calm voice and advised him to get some water to drink once he had gone through customs. Yes, some drinking water in the boarding area would be just nice. It turned out, there was only bottled water out of a machine. A small bottle was six Euros!! but it was well worth it.
    The good thing about Kuala Lumpur Airport (where we had a five hour stopover on the way back to Sydney) was that drinking water was available for free!! 🙂
    I hope, dear Gerard, you’ll be able to keep your cool during all procedures when you travel to Italy soon. Wishing you and Helvi a wonderful time at Venice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes,, the security is now so strict and after travelling for many hours being cooped up, the last thing you want are lengthy custom procedures. Many people refrain from travel because of those ridiculous security checks. I mean, you don’t have to take your shoes off when stepping on the train ,so if the airline don’t provide water, one is stuffed. You can’t take any container with over 100ml on a plane. Many now must carry 100ml containers with water to prevent dehydration.
      No doubt on the long hauls there will be water and food provided. I noticed that if the plane goes down unexpectedly, we will have a whistle to blow on. That is reassuring, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

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