Experimenting with airport security

I have been on no fewer than thirteen planes in the last four weeks or so. I've already made my apologies to the environment. If it's any consolation, it makes my ears really hurt every time. It's only four days, after that, until I get on a flight from Edinburgh to Madrid. It's becoming as normal as going for a walk. (A walk with earache and slight deafness).

Presumably, if using electronic equipment during takeoff and landing, and mobile phones at any time, was actually dangerous there would be some sort of machine to detect if any passengers did have things turned on, and electric shock them (or something). And there would be a degree of consistency in how these things were handled between airports. In quite a few airports in Australia, we were asked to turn our phones off altogether before stepping onto the tarmac to approach the plane. I saw a couple of people who were walking and tapping their screens get pulled aside and refused boarding until their devices were safely off and pocketed. No planes were crashing in the background. And nobody checked that out-of-sight gadgets were switched off. So you only pose a risk if you get caught? And in Zurich, the crew were happy with people making phonecalls right up until the plane started trundling.

Security is inconsistent too. And a massive hassle, so in an endeavour to minimise unpacking and re-packing time at the gates, I gradually reduced the number of electronics and liquids I removed from my hand luggage.

A timid and inexperienced flyer before this year, I used to think it was standard procedure to remove everything with a glimmer of metal or a drop of liquid for an x-ray in its own separate tray. So out came the chargers, headphones, coins, cards and soaps, along with tablets, e-readers, laptop, phone and clear bags of 100ml containers of liquids.

Before the start of this trip I'd figured out that was excessive, and silently pitied those who unloaded all of these things still.

Time to see what else the security guys don't give two shits about.

Kindle. That was fine. Nobody questioned a Kindle left in my bag.

Tablet was the next to stay. My Nexus 7 caused zero concern.

At this point I'm just unloading a laptop and liquids.

So I left the toothpaste in. That was fine. Then I found out one of my travel buddies had been inadvertently passing through security gates with a 250ml bottle of suncream in the side pocket of his rucksack. Apparently not an issue.

At some point on the trip I acquired small scissors; so weak they could barely cut thread. They made it through security in Sydney the first time just fine, but in Alice Springs my bag got pulled back. I thought it was the toothpaste, but no. Once they had confirmed that these scissors were such that they'd buckle before piercing skin, they let me have them back. Same again in Cairns, and Gold Coast. By Sydney round three, the scissors had broken into two parts. A very concerned looking lady asked if she minded if she threw them away rather than let them on the plane. I didn't.

By this point I was sending 50ml nasal spray and deodorant through, because what the heck? They were also cool with our massive jar of pasta sauce, and whatever we happened to be drinking at the time.

So within Australia, I was just removing my laptop at security (and phone from my pocket).

In Singapore, signs actually advised that we keep phones, tablets and e-readers packed, so only the laptop came out there too (my liquids were in my hold baggage by this point).

Zurich, however, are nuts.

No liquids still, and I got out my Nexus and Kindle straight away because someone ahead of me was getting yelled at about an iPad.

Apparently that wasn't enough, and eager staff sent my bag back through three times, unloading more on each round. Out came chargers, headphones, bags within bags, chocolate. I was almost ashamed of how much crap I was carting around. For the final round they dug deep to extract a a sealed bar of soap I bought someone as a souvenir from Cairns. That seemed to do the trick.

So then I had to hold up the line re-packing.

How does x-raying soap on its own make it less of a threat? Or easier to detect the threat? Serious question. Anyone know?

I'm just pleased I left my Vegemite and teas in my hold luggage.

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