International travel has changed since we first ventured across the pond. It used to be a pleasure….well, if not a pleasure at least tolerable; an opportunity to catch up on the reading; relax without the phones ringing; a time to reflect and to plan the upcoming trip.
Now, it’s just a challenge to be endured; something to get through so that you can end up in the place you want to be, hopefully with your luggage….all of it.
Our trip actually went very smoothly, all things considered. Our flight to Minneapolis left from London at noon. Because of the new guidelines/requirements we had to fly to London the day before in order to be at the airport the required hours before flight time. At the airport in Bordeaux I was even allowed to take my handbag out of my cabin bag! We stayed at a hotel connected to the airport so we didn’t need to bother with any other transportation; had a lovely dinner, breakfast and a leisurely stroll to the check-in counter in the morning. We were there 2:45 before our flight departure. Because we were early and had e-tickets, check-in was a breeze. Then came the challenge: actually getting into the departure lounge. We saw the sign pointing to departures, then started walking to the end of the line, and walked….and walked….and walked. Finally we joined the crowd at the far wall and slowly made our way forward. All the while we stood in line we had security people patrolling: take your jacket off; please; only one cabin bag, please; yes, your tiny, little purse qualifies as a second bag; no, you can’t take that; take your bracelet off; and so on. Obviously, their purpose was to keep things moving but it was a bit like being back in first grade….with the nuns.
We eventually separated into 8 lines, pass the multitude of cameras, answered ‘the questions’ for the fourth time and went through the sacred doors into the departure lounge. Now, whoever designed this next bit had a nasty sense of humor: all 8 lines converged into 1 snake line right inside the door. Even the Brit’s, who are notorious for their ability to queue, get a bit irritated when, after 40 minutes in a slow line, they are now faced with group chaos, everyone jostling for position in the new line. After another 20 minutes we finally manage to get to one of the 6 x-ray machines: shoes, jackets, coats, scarves, belts – off; liquids, etc. in the little plastic bag (that must fit into your cabin bag…and you must prove it) presented for inspection; a quick, but thorough pat down and we’re in. We have 20 minutes to spare before boarding!
In the departure lounge, where the shops are, the attitude is totally different. My handbag comes back out of my cabin bag and every shop owner assures me that there is no problem in actually taking multiple bags onto the airplane; it’s just that security bit.
The only other interesting occurrence was betting on how much alcohol the pilot sitting across the aisle from us (we assume dead-heading home) could consume. We counted 6 beers and two full-size bottles of champaign – the last bottle in the last 40 minutes before landing….and that’s only after we started counting (we were bored). I hope he wasn’t driving from Minneapolis….I really hope he wasn’t flying…..