The picture you see here is of two plastic bags. The rather dishevelled one on the left is a bag I use when I’m going on a plane to put my toiletries in. I decided to use the same one and leave a few bits in it to save me a modicum of hassle when getting ready for a trip away. I’ve not used it loads. Perhaps yesterday was the fifth time I’ve used it.
The bag on the right… Well, let me explain.
I got to Liverpool airport yesterday without a hitch and joined a long queue to get my armpits felt by a stranger. I finally got to the magic x ray machine, put my big bag in a tray, and put my iPad, jacket and toiletries bag in another. I’d followed the instructions to the letter. I thought I’d check the instructions because different airports can’t decide whether an iPad is something which needs to be removed from a bag or not.
It’s not a variable though, is it? I mean, it either needs to be outside the bag or it doesn’t, right? It can’t be more dangerous in one airport than another, right? I’m either bombing a plane with my iPad or I’m not. There’s no semi-dangerous iPad based scenario out there.
So anyway, the woman told me my bag was too big. Yes, re-read that if you want. My bag was too big. My small, see through plastic bag was marginally larger than the size of small see through plastic bag which is required to stop you being a bomber. In said bag was a tiny see through bottle of shampoo, a tiny see through bottle of shower gel, a tiny deodorant, and a tiny tube of moisturiser. All perfectly clear to see in my small bag. This is the same small bag, don’t forget, that I’d used four times previously to travel on planes without a hitch. In fact one of those times I forgot to take it out of my bag at all, and there still wasn’t a problem. Now I’m being told that my bag is too big. Not massive, is it? It’s not as if it was a carrier bag or a bin bag and I was making some kind of argument along the lines of “well you said a plastic bag and this is a plastic bag”. No, as you can see both bags are small, resealable clear plastic bags, one slightly bigger than the other.
What exactly do they think I’m doing with this extra tiny amount of space? Is that little extra bit of air full of explosives? Well surely they could get their explosive sniffing machine to sniff my air and tell the ridiculous woman that it’s ok, it’s just a bag and there’s only four tiny things in it and clearly it’s NOT A FUCKING PROBLEM YOU FUCKING LUNATICS.
All right, it’s not her fault, she’s just following procedure, but all the other times I’ve used the bag, it’s been ok because people have been following procedure and using common sense, which clearly not enough people do these days.
To say I was fuming is something of an understatement. I laughed out loud in her face and said “are you joking?” but I realise reacting badly at an airport is rarely a good idea. She told me I had to go to the bag machine and pay 50p for a bag, before which I had to out everything back in my bag, gather my belt and jacket and take my stuff over to the bag machine, then come back and try again.
What exactly is this achieving? Why is my slightly too large bag a problem? Why does the bag have to be 20cm x 20cm and what relevance to security are those dimensions? Do they really feel that having a slightly bigger bag makes me a genuine threat to the lives of the people on the plane? Do they fuck, they’re just mental lunatics who make these decisions, because normal right minded people wouldn’t take on the sort of job wherein you’d make decisions such as this – knee jerk reactions to things, dealt with by improbably ridiculous rules and regulations.
Of course I reacted by loudly apologising to the people waiting in the queue, telling them my bag was slightly too big, despite having travelled half way round the world on planes before, and that I was gathering my things so I could go and buy a 50p bag. They weren’t interested, of course, but I felt better for it. Only marginally. I was fucking fuming to be honest and I still am. Another example of pathetic, narrow minded idiots in the meekest and most pathetic of security jobs, ticking boxes and conforming to the precise letter of the law, rather than making intelligent decisions about the safety of the aircraft and the passengers.