Thursday, August 10, 2006

100% Liquid Free Travel

Today was not your typical day to fly home from San Francisco. I saw the news of the broken up attempt to bomb airplanes from Britain this morning while exercising on the hotel and figured that this would be a very good day to get to the airport very early. It also looked like trying to carry my suitcase on the plane would not work either since I've got to carry my favorite liquids and gels somewhere.

I arrived at the airport about 2 1/2 hours early and at first everthing looked fine. The like at Alaska was short and I checked my bag with no problem. There were makeshift signs everywhere telling travelers that they could not carry liquids, gels or creams either through security or on to the plane. Then I went to get in the security line. It was HUGE! It stretched all the way down the concourse and when it could go no farther, it went outside. It took me about five minutes just to get to the end of the line and over an hour to get through it. Fortunately, everyone was in a pretty accomodating mood.

As I got close to the front, there were some TSA people coordinating the masses into efficient lines and periodically reminding people about the new limitations and showing each other some of the contraband they had collected. One woman mentioned to a coworker that they had to confiscate a big bottle of Chanel No. 5 and some other poor guy's really nice wine that he was just trying to get home. I asked the question that had been going through my mind.

"What about a really runny cheese?"

"Huh?" she asked

"What if I had a really runny cheese? Would that count as a liquid, gel or cream?", in my mind, there is not much of a line between runny cheese and cream -- don'tcha think?

At this point I was wondering how hard Leslie would laugh when I called her from jail for asking such questions.

"Hmmm...", she pondered. "I think you would be ok -- and if you have crackers, I've got some great wine!"


The rest of the trip was reasonably uneventful. We left a bit late but had a good tailwind. The one thing I did notice as I was getting my backpack from the overhead bin was that all of the bins were remarkably empty (and thus I remarked on it). I wonder if this "no carry on liquid" thing ends up lasting a long while if all of those people who try to bring everything on the plane so they can skip baggage claim will start having to check at least one bag and then perhaps the overheads will not be nearly as crowded as they have been in the past.

Sadly, though, it looks like something as simple as taking my own bottle of water on the airplane may be one of those little liberties - like carrying a little pocket knife everywhere - that just went away.

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