Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Terminal 4 - Heathrow

No airport departure lounge blog would be complete without the requisite airport-security-is-a-pain-in-the-ass post. This one, however, comes with a twist:
You see, I've been lucky enough to travel a fair bit. And normally when I travel, it's with bags of cameras and computers and other bits of techno-gadgetry. So I'm used to having my bags hand-searched. And my pockets emptied. And metal detecting wands waved around my private areas. One time they just refused to let me get on the plane with my gear (I ended up getting them to buy me a ticket on someone else's plane, figure that one out.) It's all just part of the travel experience (unless your Congolese fixer has just bribed the security people (the ones with the big machine guns), then you can just walk right onto the plane. But that was just that one time).

But now, in the age of shoe bombers and shampoo bombs, suddenly no one cares that you're walking around with bags of gadgety goodness (well that and the fact that now everyone is walking around with just as much cellphone-laptop-digital camera-gadgety-ness).
So now, instead of being pulled out of line for a little bit of intimate wanding, it goes like this: I'm leaving Israel and transiting through Athens. In Athens, I have to go through a security check with a bag full of cameras and a bag full of computers and hard drives and countless other devices with flashing lights and beeping beepers and what-have-you. Of course, I go straight through and no one even gives me a second glance. As I'm standing there, re-packing my laptop, the guy after me comes through with no carry-on other than a zip-lock bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and what looks like a small bottle of shampoo. The woman behind the x-ray machine looks up at him and says, "sir, could you step over there please? We need to check your bag." I wonder if he enjoyed the wanding?

However, here in London they've decided to change the carry-on rules to 'speed things up'. This means that you're allowed one carry on bag, no ifs, ands or buts (usual rules are that you're allowed one carry on plus a purse, laptop or camera bag, which really means you bring two bags). They tried to get me to check one of my bags in Vancouver, but in the end admitted that I could fly from Vancouver to London with two, but I could only fly OUT of London with one.
So, when I arrive in London, and see that yes, they are not messing around with this one-bag only thing, so I step around the corner and repack all of my cameras into my laptop bag. Everything that won't fit, I jam into the pockets of my jacket. Then I sling my camera over my shoulder and proceed through security. At this point, I can't even really close my bag, so swollen is it with photo paraphernalia, but that doesn't concern the one-bag-only rule enforcer, next time I think I'll just bring a garbage bag and when they take issue with my computer bag + camera bag, I can just drop them both into the garbage bag and be done with it.
And of course, when I get to the actual security checkpoint there is no line at all. And i don't mean that in the 'yeah, there was no line at all, only 4-5 people in front of me' way, but in the, 'there was no line at all' kind of way. And then once I got through security, I just repacked my bags again. Thank you oh-so-much Heathrow security for speeding things up for me.

Trip - Day 1
Terminal 4 - Heathrow

2 Comments:

At 12:23 AM, Anonymous Lacey said...

I had the same darn thing happen to me in Gatwick. They let me fly in with two, no problem. But on the way out, I was informed rather irritably that I could only have one, no exceptions. Even working for the airline won't buy you any favors (but it made me feel really silly to wave around my badge in a line full of irritated people...sorry you guys, I'm a jerk). So I had to go to a snack bar, acquire a PLASTIC BAG, put all my crap in there, go through the xray, and then repack it all in 2 bags. And what's funny is that as soon as we cleared security, there was a huge mall-like area with all kinds of shopping right afterwards--carry-ons galore (of course, shampoo from the duty free is perfectly alright)!

My husband and I are hoping to make another trip to Israel this spring. I can't wait!

 
At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Leili said...

Ah, see, I flew through Heathrow the week before you did from Israel to the states, and was informed of the one-bag thing, but was also informed that that bag could be not one gram over 6 kilos. So I think you were actually lucky that they let you jame stuff into one huge overflowing bag!

 

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