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.
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.
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.