Posted by: Ali | December 31, 2009

Tales from the Airport

I’m back in Peru!  I had a wonderful Christmas holidays and now I get to bring in the new year from Lima.

Let me tell you though, I was really worried about travelling since it was right after the Detroit attempted bombing incident.  For those of you completely out of the loop, this Christmas, a young Nigerian man claiming ties to Al-Quaeda tried to bomb a plane headed to Detroit by using packets of gel taped to his body (or at least that’s the impression I get).  The other passengers noticed unusual behaviour and banded together to take down the would-be bomber.  As a result, security at airports was clamped down and some pretty serious measures were taken:

  • Passengers are limited to one carry-on bag
  • Airplanes that do not leave exactly on time are cancelled
  • No walking around in the cabin within an hour before landing

I was concerned about the possibility that my plane might be cancelled, or, due to exceedingly long lineups I would miss the flight.  I arrived at the airport at 1:00, about 3.5 hours before my flight.  I checked in in a line that held about four other families.  Easy, although I was amused to note the police dog going for a walk in the terminal, presumably sniffing for explosives (what do explosives smell like?).

My mom and I went out for lunch and chatted and had a lovely time, and we decided that I should go through the monster that is a security checkpoint.  So we found the checkpoint and… there was no one there.  No passengers anyways.  No lineups at all, there were security workers sitting around and being bored.  So my mom and I talked for a long time at the entrance to security, since suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was in a hurry anymore.  I went through security hassle-free, found my gate, got on my plane, left on time, and had a pleasant flight.

Ironically, it was the other end of the flight that was annoying.  My flight arrived at 12:30am (midnight) and for whatever reason, there was a HUGE line going through immigration, which took me a while.  Then when I got to the baggage claim area, there was all this stepped up security, but for a completely different reason.  There were guards walking around insisting that we kept our boarding passes in our hand so that we could prove that we actually were on the flight and not trying to steal luggage.  My bag took forever to come out, and when you get your bag you are supposed to go to the line where you hand in your customs declaration and press a button, which lights up a light.  If the light is green, you can leave.  If the light is red, you’ve been selected for a random search.  Usually almost everyone gets a green light but last night, it was red about half the time.

My light was red.

The random search wasn’t so bad, all I had to do was send my bags through an x-ray machine, and they giggled at my stuffed ghost, which I also sent through the x-ray machine.

Next came the part that I was dreading the most – getting a cab.  At the airport the cabs are so pushy, and really expensive.  It’s really hard to ignore all of the pushy guys, so finally I gave in and agreed on a price with one guy, who then kept me waiting for at least ten minutes while someone went to get his car for him.  But the whole time he was telling me how glad he was to be taking me because the airport was a dangerous place for young girls like me.  But he got me home safe and sound, so I’m happy.

Ready for stage 2 of my adventures in Peruvia.


  1. Good points made above. I will be linking them!

    I can’t believe all of this hysteria over this Richard Reid (2001) “shoe bomber” II copycat episode. He’s arrested. Try him. Convict him. Put ‘im in prison to rot away for the rest of his miserable life.

    In the meantime, let’s just get with the terms of coping with and living in the 21st Century. Republicans, and maybe the ACLU, are against full-body scanners at airports. But I’m not.

  2. What I find fascinating about all this is that only flights to the US from somewhere else have extra security. Not flights between Canada & Europe, or vice versa. Not flights within Canada. And amazingly, not flights within the US. The message,, I guess, is that it’s OK for Americans to blow each other up, or for other countries to blow each other up, but not OK for someone to blow America up.


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