My husband and I started our holiday yesterday for our 30th wedding anniversary. We wanted to do something big so we’re traveling to South America to visit three countries where we haven’t been before. Was an odd start because we left our daughter at home. I say odd because usually she is the one traveling back and forth to her job in Africa so it was odd to say goodbye to her and walk out the door. No problems getting to the airport early on a Friday morning in spite of having to travel the M25 “Parking lot”. No problems checking in and dropping off our bags. Didn’t even have a problem using the “fast track” lane where it scans your bar code and then opens the gate for you to walk into security. It actually worked for us yesterday and half the time it doesn’t.
Get to the security line and I am removing all jewelry, my shoes (because I they have a kid light on them which is metal), my belt, my watch, my fitbit, etc. My shoes and belt and purse go in a tray. My computer and my little bag of liquids and gels go in a tray and my carry on goes in a tray.. I walk through the scanner, fairly confident that I will pass without the miserable beep since I have NO METAL on me at all. NOPE. That’s what I get for thinking the machines are actually and truly functional. I get beeped. There is nothing metal on my body at all. oh wait, my bra strap has two metal hook and eye clasps on it. Not even an underwire! No metal parts inside me either and yet I am zapped. So it has got to be random! Of course I now get a thorough pat down and that’s never enjoyable to have some unknown female run her hands all over your body. And of course she didn’t find a single thing. And of course you can’t even make a snarky remark or a joke or anything because you don’t know what kind of mood these officers might be in and they could keep you off your flight.
That done, I go to pick up my bags and notice that they have not come through the scanner even though it takes awhile to get the pat down. Nope, opps, there they are but except for my computer and my little bag of gels and liquids, they have all blissfully been routed to the other side of the belt which means they will be further checked for explosives or drugs or whatever it is they get checked. So I’m holding my pants up because my belt is in the other side. I have no shoes on my feet and I’m holding my computer and little bag in in my hands. Luckily we are not in a rush to make a plane.
Finally an officer gets to my two trays and just pulls out my carry on bag and hands it to me. What the heck??? Why did it go to the “to be checked” side if they weren’t even going to look inside it. But that’s fine. They are always great about taking everything out and they you have to stand there and get everything back inside while people are bumping you and trying to get to their stuff. So I take it happily and wait for my next tray to be checked. He brings me my shoes, without checking them. great. more randomness that apparently was so unnecessary that even the officer working the security desk didn’t feel like he needed to check anything.
That leaves my coat and purse and belt and watch and fitbit. He runs the little explosives checking pad over the outside of everything in the tray, sticks it in the machine, and it squawks negative and he brings me my tray. 15 minutes or random zapping of me and my stuff. Heavy sigh. Airports are SOOOOO much fun these days.
No further problems really, other than our airplane had one bathroom out-of-order, until we get to Miami. We do the POWER WALK MILE that is so typical of airports these days or at least for us. I think I have only had an airplane park close to the immigration desks maybe 3 times in my life. Otherwise, seems like I am always walking from one far end of the airport to get into the country and out to get my luggage.
Miami has the passport machines. We have not run across these before. If you are a citizen or have certain other visas or reasons to be here, you go to one of the machines lines up on the wall, answer questions, slide in your passport to be scanned, it takes your photo, and then gives you a receipt. My husband and I are standing side by side using two machines not realizing that if we are traveling together, they really only want us to use one machine and put both passports in as family members. So we screwed up the first pass through and had to do it again. When our receipts came out, there is the passport information on it, a horrid photo, and a big X across both of our passports. X’s are NOT good.
You then take your little receipt and walk out pass an officer who sees the big X across your receipt and sends you into the line where you have to go past the immigration officers. Crap. more random zapping! AND because just about everyone can use these machines (Brits with ESTA’s, etc) it means that there are a lot of people with x’s across their receipts and so the lines are much longer than if you had just gotten into a line without the blinking machine. And true to most airports, there were two immigration officers sitting in the line of 30 or more desks. I really try hard not to complain but yesterday I was tired and hot (being in Miami) and sweaty and so was really muttering under my breath about the whole thing. I never, ever complain to the immigration people though as they can really be mean and keep you out.
We finally get up to a trainee who has an officer behind her guiding her moves and it takes her less than 3 minutes check us into the country. She even said, don’t know why you got an X. Random zapping in all phases of airport travel it seems. And it seems yesterday was my day to get zapped in all phases of it as well.
h well, we are here, we are on holiday. We are going to have a wonderful time. We do have about 7 more flights to get through. I hope that this will be all the random zapping we get but probably not!