Tag Archives: flight

Airports

Ok, so I’m now officially calling on the Illuminati to do something about the security at airports.

No, I’m not asking that security be stopped. I know it is a multi-billion dollar industry that will never be renounced no matter how overbearing or irrational it is in context of the tens of thousands of daily flights around the world. No matter how much additional time it adds to the already valueless activity of flying, it will forever remain with us. Thanks to those buffoons with box cutters and the other scorched scrotum chap, we’re forever more going to be treated like borderline suicide terrorists when trying to board an airplane.

No, I would like the Illuminati to please arrange a standard for the security checks at airports. For example:

  1. Is it necessary for one to remove one’s laptop from the bag – yes or no? There is now a laptop bag that folds open so one does not have to remove the laptop, but some security checks allow it and others not. Can we please have some consistency here?
  2. Is it necessary to remove one’s shoes? I have once been reprimanded in Germany for removing my shoes at a check. When I explained that they were steel toe-caps, I was told that I needed to put them back on and go through the metal detector and let it decide. WTF???? So I went through – of course the machine went into a panic about the amount of steel it had just detected, screaming so shrilly that everyone in the airport, and outside, simultaneously turned to glare at the source of the obviously detected threat. I was then told to go to the “unsecure” (not my words) side of the check and remove my shoes so they could be individually scanned. What the double fuck? When I came back through the metal detector, the same imbecile smiled at me with a sort of “thank you for your co-operation in making airline travel safer” way. I hope my expression back to him was somewhat less polite.
  3. Can I carry a lighter? If not, matches? I would like to understand the reason for the lighter ban. Really, is there a potential for me to cause some flight diverting emergency with something that cannot really melt solder, never mind burn through aluminium? Or is it some form of subtle anti-smoking thing? Or is it just the security people’s idiocy? In China I have been through some airports where no lighters are allowed, but inside the airport there are lighters chained to the wall in the smoking rooms, so I don’t think it’s the smoking thing. Instead of focusing on my lighter, perhaps you should force all 787 pilots to bring their batteries in for a check: that would be a far better way of preventing in-flight fires and emergencies.
  4. Why can I sometimes not carry my passport with me? While travelling there is only one thing that I never leave anywhere, except my top pocket or my hand – my passport. No matter what happens anywhere one might be, without one’s passport one is totally fucked. I don’t even willingly surrender it to the airline check-in clerk. So what is it about my passport that could be so dangerous that it must go through the super-Roentgen machines with my laptop?
  5. Do I, or do I not, need the sticker or tag marking the bag as hand baggage, and in any case, why do I need it? I am carrying the thing and it has made it though the security with me. If it were possible for me to get another bag from someone inside the “secure” section that had somehow smuggled it there, do you not then think that they’ve probably worked out how to get hold of the tag or sticker? WTF (again)? I have traveled through some airports in India where the order in which one receives the stickers for the 4 (four, quatro, vier) security checks is important. It’s like airport snakes and ladders – get it wrong and you go back to the start.
  6. In international airports, could we please get the most experienced officers to do the checking. I once landed in the US after a flight from South Africa via Europe and, as it is with all smokers, almost pushed the little old lady in front of me to the ground trying to get outside to smoke after the 10 or so hours without one. On coming back in for the security check for the domestic leg of the flight, the woman checking my boarding pass and identification flipped through my passport and then asked if I had “some form of US identification”. I’m not normally at a loss for words but this one threw me. Like total brain freeze. What does one say? I mean, I am showing you my passport precisely because I am in your country as a guest, as someone without any other form of identification. Fuck man, a passport is THE form of identification, above all others. I guppied there for a couple of moments not speaking. The dimwit took this as a sign of imminent danger and pressed the big red button in front of her, that started the rotation of the big red light above her desk and simultaneously the “burr-burr-burr” of the “danger imminent”  buzzer. When the supervisor arrived, she told him “this guy does not have US ID” – in a tone like I’d just been caught with 5 kilos of cocaine in my rectum. The supervisor gave her a look that I think was very similar to what mine must have been. To his credit, he apologised profusely to me and allowed me through, shook his head at Mrs Dunce and walked off.

There are more issues, but if we travelers could just get some standardisation of the above points, I for one, would be a lot less stressed when I fly. Surely by now all of the potential threats to airline safety have been identified and we could just all agree on the steps necessary to mitigate them. Even if the result is a nudity enforcement.

Thanks in advance.

The Whiskey Incident

I’ve told this story so many times I’m afraid I’m starting to embelish a little, so I want to write it down with the most accurate level of detail I can so that it can become a sort of “Calibration Standard” for me. Like a measuring tape, of sorts.

You see, the Queen Bee and I decided that South Africa was on a down-hill spiral of note and that for the sake of our two young children, it was imperative that we move to a country that is not proud of its title of “Rape Capital of the World”. There are a couple of other titles South Africa has, but they’re not absolute and so the government seems to be particularly proud (based on their willingness to not do something about the problem) of this title. The others are things like “Almost the Murder Capital of the World”, “Almost the Most Corrupt Country in Africa” (which is really quite an achievement), “Possibly the Most Racist Government in BRICS”. These titles just don’t have the finality, the power, of “Capital of the World”.

So we applied for Australian residency. We waited, and waited. It seemed nothing was happening. So we applied for New Zealand residency, and got it. In order to activate it, I needed to fly there before a certain date and get the visa stamped.

While I was searching for flights, I found a super-cheap fare that required me to leave on a Thursday afternoon, fly Johannesburg-Sydney, Sydney to Auckland, then spend two evenings there and then fly Auckland-Sydney and Sydney-Johannesburg. That was the plan.

On the Wednesday before my departure, we were in a management meeting and it was decided that I would need to go to Perth within a month. I suggested that we re-arrange my trip (for the following day) to just allow me to stop in Perth instead of Sydney on the way home. So said, so done. The itinerary was now:

Thu: depart Johannesburg 16:00
Fri: arrive Sydney, wait 3 hours, depart for Auckland, arrival at 23:50
Sat: depart Auckland 22:00, arrive Sydney. Depart Sydney for Melbourne, then onto Perth, arriving at 18:00.
Sun: Perth
Mon: morning meeting, depart Perth for Johannesburg at 16:00
Tue: arrive Johannesburg 06:00, go to work.

5 days, 6 flights. Flying time of about 36 hours.

Eventually on the Monday evening, after the meeting, I was so fucked I could almost not speak. I won’t be surprised if there was a small stream of drool coming out of both corners of my mouth. How I navigated to my seat I don’t know, but here I was, visa stamped and business meeting complete. A success. Triumphant. I noticed that the flight was particularly full, but I was fortunate to have the window seat, right at the front of economy = first for drinks, closest to the bathroom, able to fart with impunity.

In those days one could still charm the air-hostess for “more than the normal” drinks. When the cart came around, I asked very nicely if I could swap the ice in the glass for more whiskey. A fair trade I thought. The hostess obliged and gave me 4 of the little bottles – I think that’s like 8 tots, or 200ml. Sleep I was going to on this flight.

Sometimes when I nod off, I wake with a start. It’s usually accompanied by wild arm flailing, my arms horizontal and flapping like Icarus. A zombie on speed.

Well, this time I nodded off with the full glass of whiskey in my paw. I was so tired I hadn’t even had a sip. The problem was that my first waking zombie flail was in an arc upward to my shoulder, then a rapid stop and arms flailing down. The whiskey, however, did not want to follow the down motion and continued on over my shoulder for about 5 rows. Some of it even ended up on the overhead consoles of the rows behind me. So, for the rest of the flight, 5 rows of window seated passengers, reeking like homeless drunks, drenched in whiskey were subjected to Chinese water torture using whiskey dripping from an overhead console more normally used to dispense oxygen during cataclysms.

I made sure I was first off the plane after we’d landed.