Thursday, September 07, 2006

Terrorism no longer a global problem?

Having returned two days ago from Sweden with Ryan Air I am astounded by the moronic “security” at the British Airports. Last week I arrived at Stansted airport prepared knowing before we flew about the various changes as we were kindly informed by Ryan Air via email. Here is what they said:
“Due to the ongoing UK government security restrictions, each passenger can carry ONE item of hand baggage up to 10kg and with maximum dimensions NOT exceeding 45cm (length), 35ch (width) and 16cm (depth). These dimensions include the wheels, handles, side pockets, etc.
N.B. These restricted hand baggage dimensions are smaller than our published hand baggage dimensions.
Passengers who arrive at UK airport with hand baggage exceeding the above maximum permitted dimensions will be required to check in the bag and pay a checked bag fee of £5.00 (per bag per flight) or if they are over the maximum 20kg baggage allowance per person, pay an excess baggage fee of £5.50 per kilo.
Passengers carrying hand baggage that is larger that the above dimensions will not be permitted to enter the security restricted area and will not be permitted to return to the check-in area. In order to ensure that you will be accepted for entry to the security restricted area, please ensure that you fully comply with the following:
Any cabin/hand baggage carried MUST NOT contain:
Any cosmetics
Any toiletries
Any liquids
Any drinks
Cigarette lighters
No gels, pastes, lotions, (e.g. toothpaste, hair gel, drinks, deodorant, shaving foam, aerosols, etc.)
Nothing must be carried in pockets.

Cabin baggage CAN contain the following:
Electronic equipment, including laptops, mobile phones and portable music and DVD players. Prescribed medicines in liquid/tablet form e.g. diabetic medicines. Baby milk and liquid baby food (the contents of each bottle MUST be tasted by the parent)
All electronic equipment will need to be removed from the item of hand baggage and screened separately.
Pushchairs and walking aids will be permitted but must be x-ray screened and searched”.

That is very clear so we packed accordingly, measured hand luggage, double checked that a tube of Colgate Extra Whitening Toothpaste or some of my Extra Hold Hair Gel had not accidentally sneaked into any of the bags. So there we were, ready to meet the check in staff, we had allowed for extra time for security checks so nothing was going to make us late or give us any hassle…

On arrival I was dumbstruck…now at this point you should know that I have checked in at some obscure airports in African countries, where passengers dismanteled their Smith and Weston and handed it in, former Easter European countries and I must say nothing had prepared me for the chaos which we faced. Firstly there were people everywhere standing like idiots, waiting to find out which check in desk they were going to use. Great here was the first flaw in my plan...I had allowed extra time, only to be told by Ryan Air stand there and wait for your designated check in desk to be displayed on the monitor…right…do you honestly think that I would stand and look at a monitor for 40 minutes…not in your life…so off to get some lunch…”it will be check in desk 81 it always is…has always been so why would they change it, I said”
Lunch consisted of some congealed pasta in a murky sauce, which you would not even use as pig swill, at a cost of £21.00 so I think Ponti’s should have a mention here, what a complete rip off…

Back at desk 81 a queue formed so we left most of the food, well it was uneatable anyway and staff smiled when we left…of course they did, they thought there goes another ripped of customer and we can serve the remains of their food to another sucker…

My system started to fall apart, the flight info at check in desk 81 did not say did not say Malmo, Sweden but Slobodobovich or something unpronounceable…Back to the monitors, find the desk and a 4 mile queue, which I cannot understand as a Boeing 737 – 800 only takes about 160 – 180 passengers depending on layout, so explain how that amount of passengers can form a 4 mile bloody queue…?

With the bags finally checked in and the new security questions "did you pack your toothpaste, do you have hair gel, could someone had the opportunity to put make-up in your hand luggage?" We passed with flying colours and were sent off to see a man about a measuring device, will you bag fit in this kind of thing, which of course they did as we had measured them before. But it was in this queue I started to loose the plot with my fellow passengers, a woman with a bag the size of truck insisted that it would fit and she hammered and kicked and pushed on the bag to no avail. Some gormless, cleaner with a new bib that said “I am here to help” stood there looking at her…and I thought this is the defence we have against terrorism…a gormless ex-cleaner who has been handed a new yellow bib that should have said “don’t ask me anything as I have no clue”.

In the scanning area we opened bags, took out laptops, off with shoes (tip for travellers, ensure that you have no holes in socks...) telephones you mention it went through the scanner.

So now inside the terminals secure area we were allowed to shop and browse around and what made me laugh was the fact that there were people sitting eating steaks with steak knives the size of carving knives, so airport security now thinks that terrorists will not steal the knives and attack the staff in the plane anymore? That is reassuring and even more ridiculous was the fact that my daughter told me that two shops were selling cigarette lighters, which was one of the prohibited items…

You will be pleased to know that the flight went with us and without incidents, apart from a bunch of Swedes looking for their seatnumbers on the flight...bless... they are so organised in sweden that it would be unheard of to have a sit were you want system...So after a couple of days in Southern Sweden it was time for the return journey and here is were things start to get really silly. There was no queue, of course Sweden is organised...We followed the rules to letter with the handbags and so on…no lipstick in my bag mate, I can assure you, so imagine my surprise when at Malmo airport checking in ahead of us was a family not of English or Swedish origin nor did they look like terrorists but they had 12 bags, mostly those colourful bags you can by at markets, held together with parcel tape. I thought, these people are not going on holiday to the UK, they are moving there…

The Swedes happily accepted all luggage and they carried their hand luggage onboard, which included a satellite dish...yes a massive satellite dish.., a receiver, and 10 other unknown boxes and bags…the sight was incredible, so here we are flying back into the UK, with half of GCHQ’s tracking devises and unknown quantity of hand luggage…perhaps the British Airport Authority are only concerned about outgoing flights, because terrorist would not go to Sweden first then fly into the UK take over a plane, using the steak knives they knicked at the airport restaurant, or blow it up as it arrives with their bogus satellite dish…or would they? Finally...on arrival in the UK we spotted one police officer at the what I would call an increased security state...but hey...then there were no incidents, so who cares...?


Anonymous Stay at home and use the wheelbarrow. said...

But .. but, Mr E - if air travel was so simple 103 after the Wilbur Wright's first 120 foot flight (the plane he flew was The Flyer, not Kitty Hawk which was the name of the sand dunes. Ed), then we should all have already colonised the far reaches of the solar system!

But no. Instead we are a nation of babbling, insular holiday-makers whose idea of a good holiday is either to be whisked off to some muddy beach near a place called Playa de las Americas, where Everton FC tatoos puntured the skin on everyone's ankles; or to point their family saloon out to sea, dreaming of all things foreign - hopefully only just beyond the car bonnet.

We're an island nation and we hate going to foreign places! Why on earth do you think we're capable of reading instructions and understanding what happens to the human body when it slams into a building just as 100,000 litres of Avtur aviation fuel ignites under our arses - and not to pack even a toothpick in our valise?

Us humans can't decide where our own solar system ends, let alone which beach to go fry on.

Thursday, 07 September, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps we are all missing something about the increased security at airports.

No lipstick. No hair gel and definately no knives.

But what are they worried about?

Islamic terrorists

Who are not there to hold the plane to ransom. Not there to negotiate. But to kill everyone on the plane and as many people on the ground as possible.

They are the ones with the steak knives. The lighters and anything else they picked up airside.

The rest of the passengers have zilch.

Nothing to defend themselves with, nothing to fight back with.

Personally, because of what I do I normally carry several blades with me at any time. Mr E knows me and the reason I carry sharp objects with me at all times. It's a designer thing.

But I don't have them with me.

And I am at a disadvantage fighting back.

And they are going to kill me.

And lots of other peole too.

If we all have everyday objects that we can fight back with , then there is the chance that many lives will be saved.....on the flight and on the ground.

The current policy is the old mistake of disarming the good guys and being in a situation where the bad guys have all the weapons.

And we know who is going to prevail in that situation.


Friday, 15 September, 2006  

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