December 2007


On the Pond’s West Side

I am in Detroit, and I am happy to report I have been fully inspected.

This morning, at the first security checkpoint in Frankfurt, I learned that my Timberland Boots contain just enough metal to set off the metal detector. Having learned my lesson, I took off my boots at the second checkpoint, only to win the randomized “somebody gets a free fondling” award. I was thoroughly patted down.

From there it was smooth sailing until Detroit, where because I answered the food question honestly, I was given an APHIS inspection. Last time I answered the question honestly, I also had chocolate, but they quizzed me and let me avoid spending time putting my suitcase through the plant detecting machine.

After that I headed straight to the security checkpoint where I was pointed to the unfortunate air-puffing machine, where one still has to take off your shoes, before having air blown at you, thus defeating the purpose of the machine. The woman was on automatic speech pilot. She said to me, “If you have a laptop computer, please take it out of the bag and put it in its own bin.”

My laptop was out, it was already in a bin, and I was the only person standing there.

I have 60 minutes until my flight to Denver.

7 comments to On the Pond’s West Side

  • Ah, flying.

    The humanizing way to travel.

    I’m glad you arrived in Detroit safely.

  • J

    This is the first I’ve heard of the air blowing machine – they didn’t have it in Miami when I was last in the US. What’s the purpose of it?

  • We just booked flights from Hamburg to Orlando in for a business meeting in April. We could choose between entering the US in Newark (Continental) or Charlotte (US Air). We choose Charlote, hoping that Southern hospitality will ease our interaction with Customs and Immigration. I hope we guessed right!

  • That air-blowing machine must do wonders for those wearing a sari.

    Never heard of it.

    I wonder how many real shoe-bombers they’ve caught since they started making people remove them? Such bull.

  • @cameron: Thanks! Detroit is a great place to arrive in America…

    @J: The air blowing machine is designed to blow particles off off your skin, clothing, and shoes–the air is collected and analyzed for trace particles of explosives. Basically you get around the problems by taking a shower and changing your clothes, plus wearing different shoes, after sticking the bomb in your suitcase.

    @PapaScott: I would never choose to enter the USA in Newark unless I had to. Continental’s been quite successful with developing their hub there for international flights to Europe and the world, but immigration and customs gets backed-up, as well as the general air traffic in the air problems. You made the right choice.

    @ian: I remain grateful that he was a shoe bomber and not a jockstrap bomber.

  • Samee

    The air blowing machine???? That’s your complaint?

    My (recent) complaints:

    (1) The family with 5 children in front of me in the security line. Shoes flying, screaming, hitting… and some accidentally coming my way (maybe not accidentally?). So after the half hour it takes the brats and their parents to go through security, I make my way to a cafe and then head to my gate. Sure enough, they are on my damn flight. ALL AROUND ME. It is immensely difficult to keep my comments (suggestions) about contraception to myself. Apparently they still need the labor on the farm. Who am I to criticize?

    (2) “Your reservation isn’t in the system. That’s funny.” No, Air France it is not… Ce n’est pas drole… Neither is the fact that it took you 1 FULL WEEK to deliver my lost bags, although you told me every day on the phone they would arrive in the evening. Every single day of that FULL WEEK you sat on my bags.

  • @Samee: my complaints are mild, I know, in comparison to most people. Sucks about the kids, and I once did tell a parent on a plane that he needed to control his kids better.

    I hope the rest of the trip goes better… when do you get back to Deutschland?