I pride myself in being very air-travel savvy, especially when it comes to the security check point, not unlike George Clooney in Up in the Air, which is why today’s epic fail was so disappointing to me.
In my mind, I’ve mastered the art of breezing through airports as fast as possible. I pack light. One carry on. No checked baggage. When going through the security check, I have my boarding pass and my ID ready. I wear shoes I can take off and put on in a flash. I don’t wear rodeo buckle belts or sombreros or big scarfs. I know that your suitcase goes on the conveyor belt and that your purse, shoes, jacket and laptop (which has to be out of the case) each go in separate bins. I’m not an idiot. I know the drill … as should everyone.
1. Print out your boarding pass
I didn’t print out my boarding pass. I had it on my phone. I’d never done this before but thought it would make me seem hip and with-it. I like to think of myself as tech-savvy, too. I was ready. I had opened the email and clicked on the link to show my QR code. But, the moment I got to the front of the line I lost my internet connection. I looked at the agent sheepishly. She said I could go find a kiosk to print a paper boarding pass. Or back up enough to get a signal again and take a screen shot. Silly me didn’t I think of that. I backed up. To the back of the line. I had no choice. Like a fun game of shoots and ladders.
Second time through, I’m noticing the signs they have that say people 75 or older don’t have to take off their shoes and their jackets. This makes sense, I thought. Cause it takes them so long to put them back on, being so old and all. Nobody wants to endure that. But then I thought, “How do you know old people aren’t a threat?” My mind drifted further and I thought how ridiculous it is that because of one person we all have to take our shoes off. I wondered, I bet you could hide explosives anywhere. Like under a toupee. Or in a bra. Next we’ll all have to remove our bras. Then I’ll be that smug person, waiting in line, not wearing one at all. My reverie is broken when I notice an agent saying to an elderly man, “You don’t have to take off your shoes, Sir. That’s why you have the pink ticket.”
Upon further reading (which I had plenty of time to do) I learned that you don’t have to be old to get a pass. Some special (super-human-business-traveler?) people can, too. Pre-cleared. People who never cause trouble, probably.
2. Nothing in your pockets
Finally at the front of the line again, my screen shot works and… I’m given a pink ticket. I brazenly strut through in my black leather slip-on Vans. And get yelled at. “But I have a pink ticket”, I say. “Oh, you have a pink ticket. Okay.” Pulling it out of my pocket I dropped my license on the floor. “Ma’am you dropped your license.” I pick it up. Okay just act cool, Leigh. Act cool in the security line. Walk through the metal detector. BEEP. Shit. My phone. Put my phone in the little dog food bowl. Walk though to the other side to collect my bags.
3. No “weapons”
“Ma’am is this your bag?” the x-raying agent asks. “Yes.” “I’m going to send it through again.” There’s a problem. They take my bag and start to dismantle it. This has never happened to me before. I get the little-white-cloth-on-a-stick swipe test. It gets run through a cool machine. It’s just like CSI but without the sexy music and lighting. You’ll be happy to know I tested negative for explosives. I watch as the agent goes through each and everything in my bag and then puts it all back in, makeup in makeup bag, makeup bag in crossbody bag, crossbody bag in totebag. Okay. I guess I’m good. Then he dramatically turns around. Holding a knife. My little red Swiss Army knife. There’s nothing to say. He asks if I have someone I can give it to or if I want to put in into checked baggage. No. Neither is an option at this point. I want to say, “It’s not 4 inches.” or “My grandfather gave that to me.” But I don’t. I just take my stuff and go.
I don’t think I’ll be getting a pink ticket again any time soon.
And, in the end, the plane was so small they checked my carry on.