When packing for a weekend away I try very hard not to arrive on the doorstep with so much luggage that I look as though I am staying forever. Generally, I fail miserably and even at my age I have still not mastered the art of travelling light. If going by train or car fortunately there are no size or weight restrictions and with the car, there is always the boot for extras. Flying is a different matter altogether.
Last Friday I flew out to Guernsey via Aurigny Airlines who have a ‘one bag only’ on board ruling and that’s not a large bag either – 48cms x 36cms x 20cms. Previously I have taken a small suitcase to go in the hold and a bag on board with me. This means that on arrival I have the tedious wait at the carousel with the inevitable relief as my red suitcase safely appears. I then trot off to Arrivals to be met by my Dad with a “What does she bring with her just for two nights?” look on his face.
This time I set myself a challenge, I was going to take all I needed in one carry-on bag.
As I collect together all makeup and toiletries into a clear plastic bag measuring a maximum of 20cm x 20cm, I began to wonder if it was not easier to cut my losses and reach into the back of the cupboard for the red suitcase. However, I had made the decision not to take a suitcase so persevered and once completed I felt quite pleased with myself.
I had checked in on-line and printed off my boarding card, so on my arrival at Gatwick I went straight to the Departures. Some things never change and without fail I beeped as I pass through Security, I was frisked and my shoes were removed and sent through the x-ray machine. Then I waited for my bag to come down the belt, but it was sitting in its plastic tray at the top of the x-ray machine and a number of people were gathered around the screen, looking puzzled. Eventually the tray made its way down to me only to be removed by one of the security men. “Is this your bag madam?” he asked officiously followed by a series of questions about who packed it, did anyone have access to my bag and so forth. I was not allowed to touch my bag as he removed every neatly packed item, he swabbed everything and emptied out my toiletries bag. In a quest to be helpful I asked him what he was looking for, to be told that they had seen on the screen something that looked like a detonator. My response was “If you tell me what a detonator looks like I might be able to help you”, I don’t think he liked that very much and didn’t reply. Eventually, with a tone of annoyance, he announced he couldn’t find anything and walked away leaving me, feeling like a criminal, to re-pack my bag. As you can well imagine, nothing packed as well the second time.
I discovered something of interest when boarding the plane, that in all the times I have done this journey I had never noticed before. Ahead of me in the queue people had bags clearly larger than the maximum allowance and to make matters worse, the girl in front of me had a big bag AND a handbag. That’s not fair I thought, I spent ages fretting about what and what not to pack to abide by the Aurigny law of one bag only. Looking around me, the secret clearly is to skip the check-in desk by checking in on line, that way no one will say “Only one bag” or “Your bag is too large”. With my luck, though, I would be stopped at the top of the stairs to the plane by one of the cabin crew “You can’t bring that in here, it’ll have to go into the hold” whilst others were pushing and shoving their oversized carry on bags into the overhead lockers.
It was great to get off the plane and proceed straight to Arrivals along with all the seasoned Gatwick to Guernsey fliers, whilst leaving others waiting pensively at the luggage carousel. So it was worth the effort despite being treated like a terrorist.
The detonator? As I was cleaning my teeth it dawned me on that it was probably my toothbrush that caused the problem. It’s battery operated and was at bottom of my bag where he kept saying that they could see the suspicious object. I wonder if I should let them know in case a real terrorist smuggles a toothbrush on board at any time.
So next time you are held up at security it could be someone with an innocent carefully packed battery operated toothbrush. Coming home, I removed the battery and sailed through Security.