Thursday, June 22, 2006

How I learned to stop worrying and love airport security

I'm heading towards the Mumbai airport at 6 AM on a Monday morning. It's way too early for civilized man - Bertie Wooster would be getting into bed right about now, give or take an hour. I'm not Bertie Wooster, and I'm barely a civilized man, so I guess it's ok for me to be awake at this hour. My thoughts are quite morbid and I'm looking for an outlet to funnel my creative rage.

I don't have to look far as I reach the airport. I get to the security guy at the entrance, who inspects both the ticket and me quite suspiciously, and thinks about the pleasure he'd get denying me entry into the airport. Sadly for him, the ticket is legit, so he lets me in. I go through and get my boarding pass done. And then wait in line for the security check.

The queue is so long, it's as if half the city has decided to get on a flight out of town - maybe I missed the plague warnings on the way in. I get to the front of the line in 20 minutes, put my laptop through screening, and get frisked by the lone security guy. No, frisked is quite tame, felt up is more like it. After inspecting the contents of my wallet and ensuring that my cell phone is not a time bomb in disguise, security guard 2 lets me go through to pick up the screened luggage.

If it was only that simple. Security guard 3 is intensely curious about the contents of my bag. I open it to show her my harmless laptop. She asks me if it's a laptop. I say yes, resisting a strong urge to tell her, no it's a grand piano, and that I intend to play it on the flight. It's a good idea in the end, it would have been difficult to explain the grand piano concept. I go through, only to be stopped by security guard 4, who checks if my baggage has received the appropriate stamp of approval. No matter that S4 is standing about 10 metres from the security check area and no matter that it's pretty much impossible to have gotten something under the eager hands of Mr. Feeler Up and the eagle eyes of Ms. Laptop Checker.

I get through S4, wearied already, and wait for the boarding announcement. The announcement duly comes and I go to the gate, only to be stopped by security guard 5, who checks the luggage tags... again! I'm sorely tempted to tell him there's a bomb in my bag and I've gotten it through 4 security guys, but I need to get out of the airport, and the flight is the quickest way out, so I wait for him to finish his inspection.

I get to the flight staircase, and there are two guys there - one who takes my boarding pass and lets me through, and guess what, another who checks my luggage tags!! I'm sure it's part of the overall entertainment package, but it's too damn wierd for me. As I enter the aircraft, I can only think, 5 security guards (and one random airline official) later, I am not sure that we would win a poll for the most secure airport. There's a greater chance (odds on actually) that we would win the poll for the most painful and pointless airport service in the world. Do other countries not have security issues, or do they just apply more thought on how to be ensure security? Too heavy for a Monday morning, I promptly go to sleep.


Blogger Sriram said...

Dude, stop whining. its normal procedure and EVERYONE goes through it.

2:26 AM  
Blogger PK said...

Ya, Stop complaining, In US they will ask you to take off belt,Watch, shoes and socks,and you have to empty your pockets and keep the content in plastic tray.Frisking is free.Early morning line on Orly airport is longer than what you have at Mumbai.--PK

6:07 AM  
Blogger Unratiosenatic said...

haha! loved the grand piano comment :) Sounds exactly like you speak!

1:16 PM  
Blogger Unratiosenatic said...

And yes, you are allowed to crib :) As long as you continue to be funnny!

1:17 PM  
Blogger Sneha said...

Why is it so difficult to abide by the security procedure? If sometime there is actually somebody who gets away with a bomb on him/her and does something nasty, won't you be the first to blame the airport security?

Come on, those poor fellows are just doing their job.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Supremus said...

Still better. As long as everyone goes through it fine - unlike here, where u are picked because u look of different color hehehe :D - and its more painful than you think - remove shoes, socks - empty your bags (literally!) and all.

So its much peaceful there hehe...


7:03 PM  
Blogger The Invizible Man said...

@ sriram:
dude, just because it's normal and EVERYBODY goes through it, doesn't make it ok

@ pk:
You missed the point. Risk assessment at our airports suck and there is unnecessary overstaffing. Do we need 6 different checkpoints in our airports? Maybe not...


It's not difficult to abide by security procedures, just difficult to abide by inefficient and ineffective security procedures.

@ supremus:
:) Agree with you dude. It is a lot more painful to have to be strip searched (even partially!). But racial discrimination is a subject for a different post, mate, not this one ;)

11:58 AM  
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