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Flying remains an adventure

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Updates from The Road’s Twitter:

08:30 – At Copenhagen airport… 8:30 and the sun just came up… Ready to fly back to Rome.

09:45 – “This is your captain speaking. Unfortunately, we have been hit by a ladder of the ground crew. Repairs will take an hour.”

10:30 – “This is your captain speaking… We are still looking for the spare part.” – anyone got a spare wing light for an MD82?

repairs on plane this morning

In the end, we took off with a little more than one hour delay. But the adventure was still to come. Approaching Rome’s Fiumicino airport, the clouds got thicker and thicker. It looked like we were landing for 45 minutes. Turbulence got heavier, having people “Ohhh” and “Oosh”. Plane swing up, down, left, right. Funny to see how much flex an MD82 has.

We got a direct hit by lightning (which was a bit of an anti-climax, as there was not that much of a bang, just a lot of light and a bump as if the plane hit a speed bump).

The final approach showed the strength of the wind as we were crab-crawling sideways towards the landing strip.

The applause for the pilot was well deserved…

More on The Road about travel, airports and flying.

Written by Peter

November 28th, 2008 at 10:26 am

Posted in Funny,Stories

Tagged with ,

30 things I do not understand about airport security

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airport security

I am a frequent traveller. A very frequent traveller. With questions.

1. Why can I not go through security with a flask of aftershave, but can buy all the aftershave I want in the duty free? If duty free goods are screened in a different way, why can my check-in luggage not be screened in the same way?

2. How come I can not take any liquid on board, but I can put all the liquid I want in my check-in luggage? If check-in luggage is screened in a different way, how come carry-on can not be screened in the same way? How come I can not take a bottle of water on board, even though I could drink it to show how harmless it is?

3. How come I have to put things like a deodorant and toothpaste in a sealed zip-lock plastic bag, but no-one ever sees or asks to see the bag tucked in my carry-on?

4. If my Leatherman with a 1.5 inch blade does not get it through security, how come I buy dozens of things more dangerous at the duty free (ever seen what damage a broken bottle can do?).

5. How come some airlines serve meals with stainless steel knives and forks? Why does the restaurant in the waiting lounge serve meals with stainless steel knives and forks?

6. How come the metal strings on my guitar are not considered as dangerous goods? Ever seen what damage my thin “high E”-string can do when strapped around a person’s neck?

7. How come a sharpened pencil is not considered a dangerous good? Ever seen the damage a pencil does when pushed through someone’s nose?

8. How come my glasses are not considered a dangerous good? They showed how to use it as a weapon in The Godfather III, didn’t they?

9. How come needles and syringes are not seen as dangerous goods? How come nobody ever checks what the liquid is in the ampules I carry on? How dangerous could the combination of syringes with liquid morphine ampules be? Or the combination of a lighter, syringe and a combustible fluid in an ampule?

10. How come airport security screening never catches the three metal bottles of compressed air of our self-inflating sailing life jackets when we check it in with our luggage, but there is no way in hell we would get it on board as carry-on?

11. How come security confiscated the horse-shoe my daughter wanted to carry-on?

12. How come some airports confiscate lighters and others don’t? Why do some confiscate matches and others don’t? Why do some only allow one single box of matches? Why do some confiscate Zippo-lighters and others don’t? What is more dangerous: a single Zippo lighter or five throw-away plastic lighters with lighter fluid in them?

13. How come in some airports, I just show a piece of paper, allegedly representing a printout of my Internet check-in, and they let me into the departure hall, and through security without scanning the barcode to see if I did not fake the print-out?

14. How come I could get on a flight even though the boarding pass was not in my name?

15. How come no-one at the gate ever checks if my plastified ID card is real? How come I can board a flight even though the lady at the gate said “I have never seen an ID-card like this!”.

16. As it has been proven some lithium-ion laptop batteries are a fire hazard, can explode generating heat up to 1000 degrees, how come they don’t have to be removed from laptops? How come some airlines offer adapters to charge laptops inflight?

17. How come in some airports I need to go through a security screening when entering the airport, one when entering the departure area, and one just before entering the boarding area? Just to make sure?

18. How come I could walk from the arrivals hall, back into the luggage-belt area and nobody stopped me?

19. How come the lady at the check-in counter laughs when I answer the question “Did you pack your bags yourself”, with “No, my wife did.”

20. How come everyone lies when asked the question “Was the luggage with you at all times?”, like it was never held in the hotel luggage room by the bellboy, never stowed in the trunk of the airport shuttle, or left alone in the hotel room.

21. How come I can pick up someone else’s luggage from the belt, and walk out of the airport without being checked?

22. How come, with all the security cameras around, people have their handluggage stolen at the check-in counter?

23. How come I can put my two mobile phones in the tray next to the metal detector and pick them up at the other side without them being screened?

24. How come some airport metal detectors go bazurk when I forget to take off my watch, and others don’t?

25. How come I always fear for my harddisk when I see the way the security staff handles the tray in which I put my computer? Why can I not complain without being arrested for contempt?

26. How come the shuttle bus from the departure gate to the plane can drop us off at the wrong plane?

27. How come, allegedly for security reasons, I can not board with a computer bag and a small trolley, but it is OK if I put the bag in the trolley? How come it is OK to have two carry-ons when flying business class then?

28. How come I can ask a friend to hold my excess carry-on out of sight of the check-in counter, deny having any carry-on when checking in, and pick up the carry-on again before going through security?

29. How come, allegedly for security reasons, I am only allowed one bag with certain maximum weight and dimensions as carry-on, but can buy 15 bags of duty free stuff?

30. How come airlines do not award passengers when they can prove the security staff did not check thoroughly? Why am I regarded as a moron when I show what I managed to get through security this time? Why am I regarded as a nuisance when I tell the security staff they are not paying attention when I walked through the metal detector?

31. How come nobody asks these questions aloud?

More posts on The Road about flying, airports and travel.

Cartoon courtesy U.S. News & World Report

Written by Peter

October 11th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Funny,Ranting

Tagged with ,

Brussels Airport: “Kiss and Drive!” and a bad luck logo…

with 2 comments

I am at Brussels airport, waiting for my flight back to Rome. After six weeks with the family, we are off on our own again. The kids go off to sports camp, Tine starts working in Belgium and I am off to Italy, back to saving the hungry in the world.

kiss and drive-1

Hey, they have new roadsigns at the airport, saying “Kiss and Drive”, meant to guide people to a passenger drop off zone.
I am not sure if the combination of kissing and driving is really safe, but I am all for it. However, maybe “Park and Kiss” would have been more appropriate!

So far for the smileys.

At check-in it seems they have changed the system for self check-in: you will need your reservation number. You can’t check in via your name, passport scan (as in Rome), or credit card swipe. No, you need your reservation number. Damned if I would take out my computer, boot it up, and check my email for it. Damned if I would print it out on paper before I come. Thought eTicketing was all about paperless and effortless booking and checking in? Not so with Brussels Airlines, it seems. Nope you need your reservation number, sir!.

Ok, so I try to check in at the “Express check-in”, thinking “I only have hand luggage, so I guess this is ‘express check-in’ “? Not so. A young man stopped me asking for my boarding pass. I told him “No, I am checking in, and am following the signs.” He said: “No checking in here, you need to follow that line”, and pointed to another row of check-in counters.
I told him this was confusing. He just shrugged his shoulders and looked the other way, ignoring my comments. He told a colleague who approached me to explain and said: “Ignore him, difficult customer!”
He then turned to someone else, who wanted to do the same thing as I: check in through the express check-in. And another, and another.. Soon enough we were standing with 4-5 people complaining about the confusing signs. I just stood by and smiled. Ah the sweet taste of a little revenge! Life can be so sweet…

So, I am checking in. They ask to weigh my hand luggage, which is a compact trolley with my computer bag in it. In the bag some small chargers, my laptop and a book: 9.6 kg.
“Sorry sir, you are only allowed 5 kg handluggage, you will have to check it in”, she said.
Dah. Checking in a computer bag? To Rome? Rrrrright. *If* it would arrive, i’d have to wait for 90 minutes at the luggage belt.
“Nope”, I said, “I can show you one kilo of handluggage and then shop and buy 50 kgs of duty free goods, and you would not even know. So…”
She let me go… I *am” a difficult customer!

Anyways, last thought of the day: Did you know the Brussels Airlines logo originally had 13 balls on it. People said it would bring bad luck, so they added a 14th ball at the last minute. Some planes were already painted with 13 balls, so the 14th came with some expense. You don’t believe me? It is true, as it was in the papers!“! ;-)

Written by Peter

August 17th, 2008 at 7:44 am

Posted in Funny,Ranting

Tagged with , ,

Italian soccer and flight delays

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watching football at the airport

Yesterday evening, I was flying out of Brindisi, South Italy. After passing airport security, I found a group of people clustered around the window of the airport police’s office. I thought something was wrong, and had a look..

Inside the office, the police officers were watching the Italy-Romania soccer match, and a small crowd was following the match through the window, shouting and commenting as if they were in a pub.
At the other end of the departure hall, two other guys had hooked up their laptops to watch the game via internet, drawing a small crowd around them too. I could even hear the luggage handlers next to the departure lounge cheering and shouting as the match went along.

Nobody seemed to mind the plane was late. Not even as the plane handlers were getting out of their office, at the last minute to prepare the flight for take-off. Every passenger understood that in Italy, they had their priorities straight: soccer first, plane later..

Eventually we took off, and when landing in Rome, the passengers did get annoyed though: the car bringing in the chocks to block the aircraft’s wheels, was late, so neither the stairs nor the luggage handling equipment could be connected to the plane. Even after the chocks eventually arrived, all plane handlers took their time to engage into a lively discussion about the match, before they opened the plane.

Or would the passengers have been annoyed that in the mean time, the match ended in a 1-1 draw?

More posts on The Road about Italy

Written by Peter

June 14th, 2008 at 3:32 am

Posted in Funny,Stories

Tagged with , ,

Airport confusion

with one comment

Fiumicino airport

I flew to Brindisi again, this evening. Rome to Brindisi is served by Alitalia (“Always Late In Take-off, Always Late In Arrival”) or AirOne (“Air-One, Baggage-Zero”). This evening, I was booked on AirOne (and no, I did not risk to check any baggage in, otherwise I had 75% chance to spend the next day speaking to the lady at the lost luggage counter).

A bus was taking us from the terminal to the plane at Fiumicino airport. The bus zigzagged in-between parked planes, stopping here, and stopping there, until it parked itself next to an empty AirOne plane. Driver got out, talked to some guy next to the plane, who pointed to a Blu-Express plane a bit further on the tarmac. The driver was lost, did not know which plane to drive us to.

The bus drove to the Blu-Express plane. The passengers got off but were confused. “We were supposed to fly AirOne, not Blu-Express. Blu-Express does not fly to Brindisi”, they mumbled. Some went up the stairs, came back down, and finally we boarded after it was clear the Blu-Express plane was chartered by AirOne.

It was funny to see. Italy at its best, shining through confusion.

More posts on The Road about Italy.

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Written by Peter

June 10th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Funny,Stories

Tagged with , , , ,