Monday, November 02, 2009

Ups and Downs

At Ben Gurion:

"Do you know why you were pulled over for additional checking?"

"The four bottles of wine in my suitcase?"

"Perhaps. How long have you owned this suitcase?"

"I don't know."

"A week? A year?"

"At least a year?"

"Have you loaned it out to anyone recently?"

"My wife. My stepson."

"Anyone outside the family?"


"Where did you get the wine?"

"My wine rack?"

"Did someone give you the wine to take with you on the plane?"

"I bought them at Supersol."

"Did anyone hand you something to put into your suitcase?"


"Any strangers ask you to take something, or deliver something for them?"


"Did you leave the suitcases alone and then see someone dark and mysterious lingering around them?"


"Anyone run up to your suitcases, shove something in, cackle maniacally, and run away?"

"Uh ..."

"Anyone throw something into your suitcase while you were packing it and then dive for cover under the nearest garbage can, screaming "Allah Akhbar!"?


"Anyone with a pencil thin mustache slip something in while he thought you weren't looking, look evilly out the window, and, speaking in a low, resonant voice, say, "Revenge shall be mine! Nyeah nyeah!"?


"Did my cousin Itai give you something for me? He owes me two hundred shekels, the big oaf."


Security quick, but I was briefly pulled over due to my bringing four wine bottles.

At the airport used the free wifi to chat with Rachel and blog. Went through PP control and then filled my water bottle.

No lines. Boarded 55 minutes early (actually, I waited until 40 minutes early, and still no lines).

Everyone's personal screen worked except mine. Mine just kept crashing and rebooting. I can tell you that the computer for my screen was running a Red Hat Linux system build 540060-212, v1.02 compiled November 19, 2004. Platform SDU I386. A five year old OS; no wonder. During compilation, loader.c kept throwing multiple errors.

Guess they wanted to save money on the screen systems. They must have wanted to save money on heating, too, because it was freezing, and meals because dinner was a sandwich and breakfast was kind of sparse, too. Everything else went smooth enough.

At Newark:

I arrived at 6 am, with a flight leaving at 7:55. Despite all the roughness that now crept into my journey, I managed to get through everything, eventually.

Luggage carts are $5. It took a while for my luggage to come out, and then I dragged it around the corner to check it back in again. They told me to go up to the fourth floor and check it in directly through Delta, which took some time. Fine.

Delta decided that I needed a new printed ticket, and not the electronic one I already had. So they printed a new one, which took some time, and I went through to security (remembering to empty my water bottle first!). Either due to Israel, or receiving a last minute ticket, I was "randomly" screened to receive the extra security check.

Aside from taking off everything, they swab various parts of your luggage to test for traces of explosives, then wand you up and down, physically poking every part. Then they do it by hand, which includes turning the waist of you pants out.

This my second random screening; the first was in Dallas four years ago. Now, as then, the screener asked me if this is what it was like in Israel, as they heard Israel had tough security screenings. I said no; they ask more personal questions and then screen those who they feel are suspicious. They don't just pop up numbers and take random people. The guy said "oh". As I left, an elderly guy with a cane of some 80 or 90 years was being pulled over for the "random" security test.

That took some time. I still managed to make it to my gate 10 minutes before boarding. Checked wifi, but it cost $8 to connect. As I was boarding, they didn't like the cardboard boarding ticket I had, and gave me a new paper receipt. That took some time. Eventually we took off in the tiny plane.

In Cincinnati:

Need to wait two hours for Rachel to pick me up. Battery power running low and I forgot the American electrical adapter for my laptop. Wifi is free.


Unknown said...

Hilarious ;)

I once got to the airport 4 hours early so I decided to try something funny.

"Did you pack the suitcase yourself?"


"Did someone give you something to take with you on your journey?"

"yes" (truth)

"What is it?"

I dig in my luggage and produce a juicer, not an electric one, just a simple two piece plastic juicer. There isn't enough plastic in there to hide anything even if you really wanted to. "Here"

She looks at it, looks at me and decided its best to call her supervisor.

took around 20 minutes to clear the juicer, but boy did I have a great laugh later.

Dug said...

Re: Random Screening - As I once put it to someone participating in a WBC tournament I was running, "I have to maintain the illusion of fairness." In the US, people get very cranky when they feel they're being picked out because of ethnic background or skin color. There have been highly publicized cases of Muslims being picked out for additional screening (just as you were for being from Israel), and so there's a significant effort to appear impartial. Here in the US, we love our appearances.

On a recent trip to Canada, my wife was asked a *lot* of questions about her background, and we were glad she brought her citizenship papers (she's been a US citizen for nearly 30 years) along with the passport. I'm sure it's because she's Filipino, but has a lot of Spanish blood and has a very cosmopolitan look as a result. I simply try not to fly at all if I can help it nowadays.

Now that the travel is done, have a great time while you're here, right up until your next "extra" screening! ;-)