Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Red alert my arse

Considering that England is supposed to be on red alert, not simply because of our usual terrorism threat, but because of the current threat of the IRA. So with that in mind, just how easy is it to get through Heathrow customs with minimal checks, to board a flight going to America?

The answer is of course ‘piss easy’. If anything, the easiest customs check I have ever had in my life. The first person I encountered on a checkpoint asked for my boarding pass and when I produced it (with the details facing down) he waved me through. Apparently the mere presence of a boarding pass, whether it was for that airport or not, and I hasten to add that it was, was enough to get me through to the next check point.

At no stage during the process of having my luggage and my persons checked, was I asked any of the usual questions; ‘did you pack your bags yourself?’, ‘are there any sharp objects in your bag?’. In fact not only did they fail to ask me these questions, but as I walked through the metal detector I set it off. No idea why, but I put my arms up awaiting the magic wand scanning. It didn’t happen. I was lightly patted down and then told I was good to go. No scanning, no checking my shoes, nothing. The only things that were in my shoes were my feet, but without checking, how did they know that?

Ultimately I don’t think I really care, but not only was it astonishingly easy to get through the airport, but I was boarding a flight to LA. In America. Pretty much the number one terrorism target in the world. I was only in LA for two hours, on a stop-over. But I spent more than an hour of that queuing, having my photograph taken, retinas scanned, fingerprints collected, and answering questions such as “is this really you?”. When I finally got through their checks, I spent twenty minutes on a plastic seat in a small room with several other people willing themselves dead from the last ten hours of flying.

Another twelve hours of flying with a very good tail wind saw our arrival in New Zealand and with an exceptional amount of jet-lag. Considering we spent more than 26 hours in transit, we were a little bit tired, and then…we got lost. But luckily a local came to our rescue when he saw us reading a map in the car, knocked on the window to see if we were alright, and then drove us (we followed his car) about half an hour out of his way all the way to our hotel.

Hero of the day.

The fail of the day being the security at Heathrow, shortly followed by my dad leaving the keys to his suitcase at home.

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