This week at the Beijing Airport, a woman chugged a bottle of Remy Martin XO Excellence at security. It was valued at $190. She brought it in from the US, and just didn’t want to give it up. She did not know that she could not bring duty-free liquids past security that were larger than 100 ml (3.4 oz). Don’t let being uniformed force you to get drunk, and roll around on the floor, thus making you miss your connection.
Various airports around the world make passengers go through security checkpoints when in transit. So anything you buy in duty-free is subject. Some airports also do secondary checks at the gate, so you might get that bottle of water confiscated. (Hong Kong does this for flights to the US).
Airport rules differ from country to country. Some are more strict than others. And then there is a rare occasion when security does something extraordinary.
I was in Amsterdam visiting a friend a couple of years ago, before I was heading to Manchester England. I was flying on EasyJet, a discount UK airline. (They were recently in the news for overselling seats, and getting in trouble for it. I was not surprised by this development.).
I go to check in, and the lady tells me I’m on standby. I inform her I need to be in England that night. There is no maybe. She tells me, there aren’t any seats, cannot check my bag, because I’m on standby. I tell her, I need to get on that flight, I purchased a seat.
Now here is the kicker. She tells me to go to the gate with my bag. I tell her I cannot, because :
- My bag is way to big to go past security. It is nowhere near a carry on size. I doubt it will fit on security belt.
- I have loads of liquids and gels. I am not throwing them out. I have no plans to carry on.
She, of course is not listening, (She is a Jodi with an I, clueless version). Now time is running out. I am going to miss this flight. I keep telling her I cannot get past security, she insists that this is standard procedure.
I need to make this flight. So I go to security, and as I approach I am getting a look of disbelief from all 5 security personnel at Schiphol airport. (And drugs are legal there, so they have seen lots of interesting things).
Before they say anything, I go “I know I cannot take this past security, it is too big. The lady at EasyJet check in said I could. I know she is wrong. I got tired of arguing with her. I am on standby. I need to make this flight. I need my bag. It also has loads of liquids and gels. I don’t want to throw them out.”
The manager of security comes to me and tells me this is true, I cannot take my bag through. The lady at EasyJet should have never told me that. I said it was the craziest thing I ever heard, but she would not listen. I ask if someone could call her, tell her she is wrong. He then asked when my flight was. I said it was in 45 minutes. He said my bag won’t make it. I said I need that bag.
He goes over to his security team, says something in Dutch, and then they proceed to put my bag on the belt. He tells me he is going to let me through, but one of the security guys will have to take may bag, walk me to the plane. He has to make sure I get on the plane, and will give my bag to the baggage crew.
I stood there in utter disbelief. I have never, ever heard of this happening. I told him I was fine with that, and thanked him. Repeatedly.
The security guy was very nice. He made sure I got a seat, gave my bag to the baggage handlers, then stood and waved goodbye to me as I got on the plane.
This was a very rare occurrence. In this case, I did know the rules. The Jodi with an I from EasyJet, who was obviously active in the local drug scene, did not.
I was very lucky I was not a Chinese drunk lady rolling on the ground, having to sleep it off with the local police in a wheelchair. But like her, I was thankful to those who helped me. (She reportedly thanked the police who looked after her).
Be informed. Also, be willing to admit that you know that things did not seem right, but had no choice in the matter. One can get over the bumps.