arrrggghhhhhHHHHHHHH . . . the thought of standing in line to be groped and scrutinised in a few hours is looming above me.
.Getting to Heathrow 4 hours before departure never seemed like a big issue before. It was something I knew I had to do and did it. It was very much like accepting the fact that it takes an-hour-and-a-half to commute to work daily. You just got used to the idea. And worked around it.
No, no, you can’t ‘cheat’ by spending less time. You just found ways to use the time fruitfully. For instance, I would stand in queue, which invariably seems to start at some obscure toilet entrance down some aisle that has no markings / signage / number, but knew it was the queue cause everyone seemed contempt enough to walk to the end of the snake-like line. But in my hand I would have a ice blended coffee (even in winter) and a Vogue. And in my coat, there would be bars of Kit Kat and bags of M&Ms. And sticking out of the tote would be 750ml of V8 and a litre of mineral water – brand not so important. I usually go for the funky looking packaging. When you’re forking out pounds to pay for water… what the heck! Splurge. It ain’t gonna make you poorer or richer either way you go.
The thing that gets to me is the latest (not so new anymore) regulations on liquid you can hand carry into a plane. I mean. Take a good look at me. Do I look like someone who could put a bomb together? Geez, it’s an accomplishment if I don’t spill the contents of my cup on anyone or trip on someone’s shoes that has somehow gotten dislodged from some smelly feet some 40,000 feet above air.
What really gets to me is at least 3 usually nice gentlemen will approach me to toss out my recently procured liquids in my tote whilst I am still a fifth, a third and half way through the queue. “Yes, I want it.” “No, I will not bring it on the plane.” “Yes, I totally understand the liquid regulations.” “Of course I promise to throw it away.” This would play again and again as if it was a way to ruffle up already exhausted passengers who are ready to fight the Waterloo War for peace, tranquility and some sleep.
Ahhh… but, I generally like the Liverpool-ian sounding guy that would eventually come around. Cause for some strange reason, I can pull that accent and whilst the same exchange will go on, it has funk infused into it and brings a smile onto my dreadful, tired expression. And yes, he’s the only chap that will allow me to carry my liquids to the end of the queue which by that time he would have given me a look of approval and amazement that I had consumed all whilst in the 2 hour line that just gets me to liquid checks, before the immigration gate that checks you in, then the shoe checks, followed by the customs checks that strips you off more than liquids and shoes.
Of all the airports of the world I have gone through, I find Heathrow the most cumbersome and yet the most effective (not efficient). And the few things I have learned about clearing the check points quickly, or at least without causing a scene is as follows:
don’t tell the screener that you are about to miss your flight
are you serious? you’re probably the 1,000,029 person who said it that week! look, it won’t win you any sympathy and could actually arose suspicion. now, that wouldn’t be clever.
you’re not a Tiffany & Co. showcase – don’t wear lots of jewelry or hairpins that can’t be easily removed – unless you love to be groped by strangers
don’t say you “forgot” you have liquids in your bag
are you a pathological liar or a retard?!? you were asked to throw any excess liquid away moments ago
this ain’t your room! stop jamming everything you own into one bin – get organised. It’s hard to screen multiple layers of compressed ‘junk’. And lay your bag on its side – it’s easier to screen.
please do not accuse screeners of theft. if you’re certain an item is missing, do the Malaysian thing: “your Manager lei? I want to speak to your Manager lei.”
don’t tell the screeners “it only comes in this size” or “but it’s almost empty” when asked to surrender liquid larger than 1 litre.
who cares if it’s La Mer? the foolish amount of money you spent on your toilettries isn’t going to make a difference to the screener if it’s the wrong size!
hello? there’s a queue behind you – remember? don’t block the ‘traffic’ by re-packing your belongings on the conveyor belt.
wear slip-ons. who’s looking at your shoes anyways?
keep your boarding pass in hand.
make sure you have all your items before you leave the checkpoint.
Now that’s relatively easy. And if (only) everyone cooperates, we’ll be out of that damn line quicker and could possibly squeeze in a Pret-a-Manger – “rye, chutney and easy on the alfalfa please.” The problem is nobody follows instructions. Period.