Monday, July 26, 2010

WARNING: This post may contain traces of swearing. If you don't like it, don't read it.

I blame the sun. The weather has just been too damn good for my passive-aggressive rants. There has been no incentive. But don't worry, the rain is back, the weather is turning. And I've just been through a UK airport.

Fuck I hate it. Just thinking about it gets my blood pressure up again. Inevitably I end up a) squeezing my eyes closed trying to will myself to not scream, hiss in someone's face or worse, attack a self-important uniform or b) in tears of pent up frustration, due to suppressing the mentioned emotions.

We had checked in online. You know, that marvelous little time saver, that they encourage you to do so that you can skip queues and have far more enjoyable travel experience? "Thank you for checking in online, if you do not have luggage to check in, you may proceed directly to departures. Have a nice flight!" or cheery misleading words to that effect.

What it doesn't say (well it does, in the fine print somewhere at the bottom of page 3 on your unnecessarily long boarding pass print out, just below the rental car adverts and above the gratutious hotel promotions) is that if you are a non-EU traveller, you have to get a stupid fudding piece of worthless crap red stamp from the airline you are flying with, to say that they have checked your documentation. But most times, this little red stamp isn't necessary (as it wasn't over Christmas and Easter when I flew in and out of the UK in the last 12 months), so we don't usually bother.

So, Mills goes to check in our one item of baggage, I wait in the background. If we can avoid them seeing that I am non-EU, it is usually much faster because the staff on the SleazyJet (or whichever airline we're flying) check-in counter, don't know which countries are EU and non-EU; they don't recognise a valid visa when it is sitting under the nose and inevitably we end up having to call over support staff while I explain that the card they are looking at is in fact valid EU identification. So we try to avoid them seeing my passport at all - it's USUALLY easier.

This time it wasn't. Checked in, boarding pass ready, we successfully beat the Russian tour group who appeared to also be milling towards the departures pathway... Definitely want to stay ahead of that confusion. Unfortunately the dudey checking boarding passes decided that, on this particular occassion, I did need the red stamp. I have no idea what determines when you should have it and when it doesn't matter. I think it largely depends on just how inconvenient it will be to my particular travel plans.

So I shouldercharged my way through the Russian cattle pack behind us, back to the SleazyJet (or equivalent) check-in counter, slammed my boarding pass on the counter and stated that I need a red stamp. Without looking up check-in dudette muttered, "what nationality?" She stamped the paper without asking for ID or even if I have a visa. She didnt even open my passport, and I don't think she looked at where I was going. But what a relief to know they have that red stamp system in place. Very effective measure of control.

Shouldercharged back to the departures queue, which was by this stage full of Russian tourists, lowing gently in their herd. Shoved red stamped boarding pass under dudey's nose and moved through to hand baggage - where this particular airport has decided to re-institute the "all liquids must be in a clear, see through, plastic bag".

Really? This hasn't been required for any of my flights this year. In fact, I'd actually heard vicious rumours and seen in articles that airports were easing the restrictions on liquids. But apparently, this particular airport had heard that the talent scouts for the "Anal and Aimed at bottlenecking painful Processes" awards were in the vicinity. And there were several contenders.

Right, so liquids must go into a clear plastic bag. I don't travel with one any more (because everyone else seems to have done away with this tedium, have I mentioned that?) But don't worry, for just 50p you can buy an empty plastic bag. Ja... about that... fuck off.

Instead, I grabbed a handful of my liquid/flammable products and simply held them in my hand. When I got to the front of the hand baggage queue, I shoved it into the lucky uniform's face and informed them that I didn't have 50p to buy a piece of fucking plastic (not in those words... I may have been irate, but I'm not stupid and I'm not finishing up a weekend away with a full body cavity search). Amazingly, she was able to produce a clear piece of plastic to hold my terror-inducing liquid and flammable products, for free.

I went through hand luggage without further incident. And here's the kicker - on the other side, I realised that I had only put half my liquid products into that essential "do it now, or admit that you are a suicide bomber" plastic bag. The other half went through without so much as a blink from the scanning operator. So I implore anyone who can answer this, to please explain... what the fuck is the point?


rd said...

To try and be more anal than self-loving Yanks and germ fearing Convicts.
It's a global (and closely battled) competition.

Anonymous said...

And DO NOT travel with a lid-less aerosol deodorant can in your handbag between Sydney and Melbourne either....
You can of course travel all the way from South Africa to Melbourne, from there to Adelaide and on to Sydney where suddenly the afore mentioned article becomes "dangerous"!!
I agree, what is the bloody point......
Jouma x

Anonymous said...

"What is the point?"; I hear you cry!
You have a brain, a personality and a life. They have a UNIFORM! 6-nil to them! Bof

Spear The Almighty said...

Crazy airport people.