air canada aircraft taxiing past runway at Toronto Pearson International Airport Ontario Canada

Leaving on a jet plane….

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Thats it I’ve had enough, snow, frost, cold, wet, dreary, etc etc etc.
Sunnier climes beckon.Its been a while since I flew on a ‘proper’ airline, as opposed to low cost or booking a seat on a charter plane. Its unusal to be asked where you would like to sit and to have boarding passes for belfast to heathrow to washington to buenos aires printed out automatically in less than 2 mins. Not having to stand and queue for half an hour just to reach the checkin desk or just sit and wait until your seat row number is called at this point in time seems well worth the extra. Of course not every route is open to this so it will still be a case of no frills (sorry not low cost as sometimes its dearer than others) for the time being.

I booked this trip before the underpants bomber decided to try and make a statement, so am awaiting the check in for a flight to the US with dread. I havent flown from the UK to the USA for over 14 years, all other times have been via Dublin and you clear US customs and immigration in dublin making the whole experience a lot easier (well you used to dont know about now). I just went through the flight connections section of Heathrow Terminal one and a lot of people have been caught out by the extra layer of internal security. There are piles of water bottles and duty free alcohol being taken off people. The folks naturally assumed that if you have a connecting flight you are airside so buying the duty free seemed the normal thing to do.
For me theres an issue. I couldnt buy anything in Belfast as it would be taken off me in Heathrow. I cant buy anything in Heathrow as it would be taken off me in Washington, if indeed it got that far as the one piece of cabin baggage would have divested me of bushmills finest long before I got stateside. So if I want to bring my hosts in Buenos Aires some alcohol it will have to be picked up in Washington and theres probably nothing Irish on sale there at all. Also I find it strange that transitting US airports, even if you are staying airside and going on to another country you have to clear US customs and immigration. Dont get it? Any ideas?
So In Belfast city airport I got three boarding passes, got my luggage routed (hopefully) to Buenos Aires but I still have to collect it in Washington, clear customs and immigration and then hand it back to the airline staff even though I’m not setting foot on US soil (unless of course I am and I dont know it yet). Odd. Still at least I’ll know by that stage that my bag is still with me.
Which leads me on to the single piece of hand luggage thing, surely you can do as much damage with half a bag or one bag or indeed a pair of underpants or your shoes as with half a dozen bags. A young family checked onto my Heathrow flight just in front of me in security in Belfast, two small kids, one toddling, one in a papoose thing. They must have had about 10 items to go through security. I know the reasons why all this is being done and yes its a small price to pay, but seeing security taking a bottle off a toddler who is drinking from it and asking the father to open it and drink out of it is a bit of a shock. Yes I know it could be a false teat and all that and yes I do know there are enough psychos out there who would blow their kids up as well as themselves to try and make a point.

I think its all self defeating really, but I dont have an answer, its like back when I was a child, to get into Belfast city centre you had to go through a security zone and were body searched, all bags were opened and searched. Compared to that current airport security seems a little on the liberal side! I remember being body searched as a 7 year old but that was normal for the times. I guess the people who grew up in ‘normal’ times before that were wondering what on earth was going on.

Right time for me to go and buy my 2nd bottle of water for the day, might even get to drink this one this time. Some enterprising souls should rent water bottles out in transit lounges in airports, or maybe they are doing this already!

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