Wednesday, June 09, 2004

What I Learned About Airport Security

Hi All!

As faithful readers, you know that I recently flew to Baltimore to meet up with a friend to drive his prize Merkur Scorpio to the All Ford Nationals at Carlisle, PA.

You will also be aware of an unfortunate incident involving Law Enforcement, one of the consequences of which was the confiscation of my driver's license, IE, a "current government issued picture identification", which of course, is required for boarding a plane!

I assembled a folder of ID:

Birth certificate;
Expired DL;
Expired Passport;
Color photocopy of surrendered license "courtesy" of St Anthony Police;
Brochure and articles from Legislative campaigns of 1992 and 1994;
House of Representatives ID card from when I worked there in 2003.

Plus, I had my 16-year-old Alex with me, who had ID and could vouch for me.

Used NWA's nifty computer check-in so had our boarding passes preprinted at home. All we had to do was to pass security and proceed to the gate.

I was sweating bullets as I approached the stern ID screener (we got there 2 hours early in case of trouble).

She first asked for my ID. As I nervously fumbled for my folder of stuff, she checked out Alex' DL. I started offering up my materials. The first thing I pulled out was my Legislative ID.

"Proceed to baggage screening and have a nice trip."

I almost fainted.

Now we were in the clear. I had a briefcase full of Merkur auto literature I was hoping to sell, and Alex' case had some small parts and our clothes and necessities.

I thought a fifty pound hardsided briefcase would surely rate a check, but she sailed right out the xray machine.

But the big duffel bag got us pulled aside. All that careful packing... Well, it turns out a lug nut set and a Merkur hood badge had aroused suspicion. When the checker saw all the Merkur stuff in the bag after I had told him we were going to a big car show, he laughed and made a remark to the effect that car collectors are crazy but have a great time.

Now for a tip. There are plastic containers meant to receive your cell phones, laptops, jewelry (?) or basically all valuables that might excite the walk-through sensor. At least 80% of the cowed jerks ahead of us were taking off their shoes. I told Alex that my shoes were not valuable (I bought them at the Disabled American Vets store on University for $2 and that I damned well wasn't going to take them off unless commanded.

So we went through with feet comfortably shod and no one said a thing.

Thus educated we blew through Baltimore's check, which seemed much more strict. All I showed was my Legislative ID, shoes kept on, baggage not checked (sold the lugnuts but the emblem was still in there as well as an aluminum coffee mug I won at the awards banquet.

So when you check in to the airport next time, keep your damned shoes on.



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