Airline security gone too far

I have to share this personal story. And while I know that this could spark a whole bunch of controversy, I just cannot keep my mouth shut here.

I was recently back home and since we flew Air Transat (purely economical reasons) the luggage allowance wasn’t really enough for clothing and chocolate. On every visit, I climb up into the attic and go through my boxes full of memorabilia, deciding what I’ll take home to Canada this time. This time I came across a snow globe that I’ve had since I was a child, and I am absolutely in love with.

I didn’t dare pack it in the suitcase for I didn’t want to risk it braking. My father suggested that handluggage wasn’t a good idea either due to the new on board luggage rules.

“It’s a snow globe, they aren’t going to give me trouble for that!” I shrugged him off. I even ignored the “might be over 100ml of liquids” or the “it’s glass that could cut” comment. The snow globe was going home with me and in my hand luggage!

We get to Munich Airport, check-in and my husband is worried that once the bags are gone down the conveyor belt, I won’t be able to check my snowball anymore. So before loading our bags, I say to the lady “I have a snow globe with me, that won’t cause any troubles at security, will it?” thinking that she’d answer “not at all” without wasting another breath.

“What type of snow globe?”
“You know one of those that have water and fake snow in them, the toys”
“Can I see it?”
“Well I have it packed up in newspaper”
“I’ll have to see it”.
Fine. I unpack. Woman obviously has no clue.
“Oh, it’s big. Do you think there is more then 100ml in it?”
Here I have to pause and start counting silently 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, – I think I can handle it:
“Well, I am not exactly sure, it’s round, and since I didn’t pour it in or it doesn’t say….”
“I think it’s more then a 100ml. You probably have to check it”.
Again 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,:
“Well, it’s not really like it’s a bottle of water, or a cream, or anything that I could actually pour anything into it, so how can that 100ml rule still apply? It’s a toy.”
“Yes but….. ”

I can’t remember what other stupidity she rambled on, I interrupted:
“Listen, I’ve had this for over 20 years, see, the snowman is even cracked and the snow isn’t really white anymore. I now live in Canada and it’s important to me, so I would like to bring it home. It isn’t harmful”.
“Well, it’s up to you, I am just saying that security will probably confiscate it and then it will be too late”.
Now I am just simply annoyed to the max, the infringement on my rights as a human being is just too big to handle. Just because there are bad guys out there, I as a good person have to leave childhood memories behind. I want to say so many things, want so much to hold a ‘big brother is watching you and you’re just too stupid to see that your life is going f… down the tubes because of it’-speech, want to explain that one cannot hold water in a net, that if someone wants to blow something up, they’ll find a way to do it etc, etc, and etc again.
“My love, I am sure if we pack it in the middle of the suitcase in between all the clothes, it will be just fine” my reasonable husband says.
By this time, we are holding up the 3 people deep line (no further comment here – wait! no! since I am at it: I might be having a fond memory crashed and all you worry about is having to wait 2 more minutes?! Get a life you losers!), so we are asked to step aside. We do step aside, and now it’s getting to me. Tears start rolling down my cheeks, for I know that packing it, means sure destruction.
“I can’t believe they make me do this. I am sure if I take it to security, they’ll let me pass, if not I’ll just start bawling my eyes out, nobody will dare take it away from me then. I know it’ll be ok”.
“Yep, and then we’ll get offloaded because you’re having a nervous breakdown. No, listen, it’ll be fine, see, here’s a good spot”.
I hate my husband this moment. He’s supposed to be on my side, through good times and bad times, ha, what happened to that, hey? He’s lucky I don’t pull a Bonnie and Clyde stunt and hijack the entire aircraft, after all, once humanity has gone insane, heroes are born. I wouldn’t harm anybody, just start a strongly needed revolution of having common sense rule once and for all.
Between tears I make sure I keep looking at the evil woman, there, yes, you, see that I am crying, yes, hope you feel bad, yes, that’s wonderful customer service, you’re just lucky I don’t start a protest and get all those 3 people in line yelling ‘let her take it, let her take it’! Ooops forgot, they aren’t on my side because they are in a rush to go buy 3 dollars cheaper booze at the duty free.
“Well, might as well toss it in the garbage. No need to pack it. Here give it to me, I’ll take it to the garbage can and smash it in there, right in front the stupid woman’s face!”
For those of you who are still with me, yes, I am no longer being reasonable at this time. Maybe you can empathise with me in the sense that I was cornered to give up something very dear to me, without any chance nor sympathy whatsoever.

We check in, hubby has packed my snow ball, and I purposely let my tears splash on the counter.
“Ridiculous this whole thing. And I can’t even use my freedom of speech for fear I might be taken away by the police for mentioning an Airport taboo word.” I mumble with an absolutely disgusted look in my face. Looking good was obviously no longer on any of my priority lists.

Well, we made it through security, without my snow globe and without needing to unpack anything. They were more concerned with a 85 year old woman, who seemed very distracted and very lost, trying to explain to her that she just couldn’t take her face cream (120ml) on board and that they would need to keep it. Yep, I felt so much more safe now that they had gotten her all hysterical and had gotten rid of a tube of Elizabeth Arden moisturizer.

I drank myself to sleep, feeling totally insignificant and a slave of a police state that I always thought Russia to be. I was not a happy camper.

As I am writing this way too long rant, I glance over at my two snowmen standing in my glass snowball surrounded by 20something year yellowish fake snow. They made it. The Gods were with us this time. Still, apart from the childhood smiles I can’t help but feeling a little jolt of pain and unknown vulnerability every time I look at it. And although I am very glad I have them here with me, something has changed.


~ by spasmicallyperfect on July 11, 2007.

8 Responses to “Airline security gone too far”

  1. Imagine the headline: CRAZED WOMAN HIJACKS AIRLINER WITH SNOWGLOBE! (film at 11). I mean, I’m glad they take their jobs seriously, but really, that was just too much.

    I’m glad you got your snowglobe home safely, though.


    I can see it – and I like that headline……. 😉 . On another note, I like seeing your name below comments again. Welcome back!

  2. Yes it’s all getting too much.In Zürich,London, Munich or other large cities in Europe we are all liable to suffer a nervous breakdown before we even get on the aircraft.But check in in Heraklion,Crete on way to a Hub with possible transfer world wide,like we did a short while ago and no one will appear to worry if you’ve got Elizabeth Arden or gelignite in your bag. My husband’s new knee joint,didn’t bother the detector either,nor did my heeled shoes, and I didn’t see anyone unbuckle their belts Dolce et Gabana or otherwise. It’s good to know when people take their jobs seriously,but why don’t the loopholes get checked.Unfortunately terrorists seem to be quite smart. Diru

    Yes, precisely. There are still way to many loop holes, but again, you can’t catch water with a net.

  3. I read this entry and my stomach started turning knots because i can only imagine how that felt. Something that would seem simple to some, possibly a threat to others, and something you absolutely cherish, and not knowing how it’ll all turn out. I would have done the same thing as you. I woulda had tears, then rage. I woulda drop kicked the lady ninja style and yeah. then i’d be shuffled off to jail. anyhow, i’m glad to see that your precious snowglobe made it home okay.

    Oh Red, you just made me laugh (the ninja drop kick is perfect!). Thanks for supporting me in this, cause I was wondering whether I was oversensitive. See, strangely, I wouldn’t really have had a problem sacrificing my snow globe for a good cause (i.e. if a child had walked up to me and said “wow, that’s such a nice snow globe” with a sparkle in their eyes, I would have given it to them instantly and cherished the mental memory). Or if a physicist had explained to me that my snow globe was a liable to explode at that altitude and jeopardise the safety of the plane, I would have not hesitated. It was just because I knew there wasn’t any chance that it was going to harm anybody at all and it really wasn’t safe for my globe to travel any other way. You’ll have to teach me that ninja kick at some point 😉

  4. You should read your horoscope before going to that diabolical airport of Munich. I know It very well. 🙂

    Well, not sure whether I would call it diabolical….. and Munich is no different than any of the other major airports. Actually the US airports seem the worst to me. And I know many travelers – non Americans – that refuse to fly via any American Airport because they are made to feel like terrorists or treated in a degrading way. Apart from my story above, I do understand the job that security and boarder police have to do, and I do understand that there are many lying smugglers and illegal immigrants trying to get into the US. But I don’t agree with that being an excuse for letting burned out and cynical officials abuse travelers. Of course, they aren’t all bad and like anywhere else, there are very good staff too.

    But just as another example, since I am not yet a Canadian citizen I have to have a special 90 day visa (obtainable at the boarder) to enter the States, even if I just want to go spend my Canadian dollars in Buffalo for a shopping day or concert night. Every time I do that, I get to pay 6 USD for an admin fee (fine, I get that, no complaints there) and wait for a minimum of one hour. The first time they had the fingerprinting rule up, I asked the person behind the counter, what was going to happen to my fingerprint to which the response was: “What does that matter, these are the rules, if you don’t like them, then don’t come to the US”.

    I was about to turn around and go home but didn’t want to ruin the day for my husband. And one thing I’ve learned working at the airport, you don’t argue with border police. So I swallowed hard and imagined that the poor person probably hadn’t been granted vacation in years. To me it’s no wonder US tourism numbers are down.

  5. Hey Spaz,
    Well I’m glad the snowmen made it without harm. It has gotten to ridiculous lengths with this stuff. I didn’t know they were still doing this sort of dumb crap. I don’t know what to say. I guess it’s what we get for voting politicians into office.

    Well, I guess in a way they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. I used to work at an airport myself, so from the poor lady who I just tore apart in above post’s perspective, well, I am not sure I would have done anything different than what she did. After all (especially with my imagination) wouldn’t it be the safest thing to hide bad things in a kids toy with a good story and a few tears? But it’s the entire concept that gets me. It’s as if our need to feel completely safe (which in my opinion is an illusion in itself – sad but true) washes any common sense right out of our brains. We are scared of everything. In all fairness, I wouldn’t want to be the security guard that realises that the person I checked this morning just blew up a plane full of people. And I’d probably be thinking as well ‘better safe than sorry’. It’s just that the flip side to this cannot be anything else then creating a police state where 99% of the good population has to fit into rules that with every bill or decision takes away a little more of our freedom. “V for Vendetta” comes to mind. I don’t want to live in a world like that.

  6. You write good hysteria and panic!

    Thank you Lolly, blame it on the ‘drama queen’ ingredient in my personality…… I like to think that I am actually able to control her nowadays and just let her out in a creative way like this one. 🙂

  7. Poetry or prose…journaling or ranting (!): your writing is totally captivating.

    What a great travel tale for our times. Rules and Regulations: sad! evil! Risk and loss are a real and legitimate part of life. But, we are held captive in our fear of them. So we put logic aside and live by trite and illogical rules that substitute ‘across the board’ for real thinking (which, by the way, should come with a warning label: Danger! Don’t try this at home! Real thinking could get you in a heap of individualistic trouble!!!’

    I guess we have the terrorists to thank for ‘don’t color outside the lines – it scares us’ mentality at the airport.

    Captivating is a big word and it seems bigger even as a description for my writing. Thank you very much. Yesterday I saw a show called 2057 (I think that was it) and I have to say, it left me somewhere in between awe and uneasiness about what is too come. I guess, the good thing is that our children and their children won’t have known a difference. Security – maybe that’s the word for this century. Or maybe ‘Going green’ will beat it who knows…..

  8. i can’t even walk into an airport any more without my stomach tightening up, worry over what’s in my bag ~ its crazy and i feel like a criminal everytime i go through security …

    i would have cried and gotten all hysterical too ~ its true … but am glad your snowglobe made it here to canada and brought us this story … xox

    Wasn’t going to post it at first, it’s here thanks to my Mum who suggested it would make a good read after I had to relay her the whole nightmare over the phone…..

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