Friday, September 21, 2007

Conflux bound

I've booked my tickets, my hotel room and have my Conflux receipt. What else is there to do except pack and fly? I'm off to Canberra very soon. I'm definitely planning on a visit to Floriade as well as attending Conflux and spending some time with east coast friends but Canberra has a lot more to offer than that. It's been a long time since I was there last and I hope to cram in some more sightseeing as well.

I look nostalgically back to the days when flying meant fronting up to the counter an hour or so before your flight left, depositing your suitcase and heading off for a cup of coffee until your flight was called. Then you picked up your hand luggage, kissed a few good-byes and wandered off to the gate. Once on board - at least at Perth Airport - you could see families and friends standing on the verandah waving the plane out of sight.
I traveled a lot at one time in my working life so packing and flying doesn't worry me but the complications brought about by the airport security changes do. I accept the world is different now and there is a very real threat of terrorists using aircraft for their own purposes but some of the security requirements are simply bizarre.

A friend, going to the airport to farewell her brother returning home to another state, forgot she had nail clippers in her handbag. You know nail clippers - those little objects about half the length of your little finger, with a blunt ended nail file approximately one and a half centimetres long that acts as a lever so you can open the clippers just enough to insert a finger nail? They showed up at the security check and she was asked to hand them over.
"Can I collect them on the way back?" she asked - not unreasonably I'd have thought. The rest of the family meanwhile continued through and waited.
"No, if you want to go through we're confiscating them. You don't get them back."
"Can I say good-bye to my brother over the barrier then?"
"No, if you won't give us the clippers we'll go and tell him you said good-bye."
Okay maybe she should have just handed them over no matter how absurd it was but by then she was feeling stroppy. The officer went and spoke to her brother and she went back to the car.
Before the plane took off she got a phone call. Her brother was not happy. According to him the officer had said she refused to comply with the confiscation because she wasn't interested in seeing him off. Petty and nasty.
All this over a tiny item with no potential for use as a weapon while at the same time anyone can take cabin luggage and a laptop on board, both of which are heavy enough to be used to disable flight crew or anyone else who gets in the way if someone is so inclined. For that matter why can't these items (legal everywhere except airports) be returned to someone who is only seeing a passenger off and not going near a plane? Use a check system like a cloakroom. It works in libraries, museums and art galleries.


Satima Flavell said...

Flying from Perth to Adelaide recently I had my nail scissors confiscated and coming back from England in May they pinched my toothpaste! It was too big, they said, and could have bombs in it. Yeah, right. Little old lady holds up aircraft with nail scissors and toothpaste...

Satima Flavell said...

PS. Have fun at Conflux! I wish I could come too:-)

Laura E. Goodin said...

See you at Conflux, then! If you're at the Friday night opening ceremony, we can rendezvous then.

Imagine me said...

Thanks, Satima. Maybe next year. I might try blogging but just now the prospect of lugging a lap top with me seems too hard.

Imagine me said...

Good idea, Laura. I'll see you there.

Glenda Larke said...

Hey, wanna hear all about it - in detail! I am green with envy.

Karen Miller says she bumped into you and you said hi to me.

Imagine me said...

Hi Glenda.
It was great fun and let me tell you a workshop where you actually get to practise with swords (Okay they were wooden and just as well considering my ineptitude) has to be the best thing. What a buzz.