Jan 2: Rant Against Overreactionism

I took this photo of DH after our last family meal before leaving London. DD accompanied us to Heathrow to say goodbye. This little facsimile of a pub was before the security checkpoint so we could all eat together. I had a traditional breakfast with eggs, tomato, mushroom, and baked beans. DH and DD shared fish and chips. DS had pasta, of course. This shot was also, however, after we checked in, an experience that foreshadowed the horrors to come.

FIRST SECURITY CHECK: We had done online research before coming to the airport that said we were allowed one carryon bag each. Then, at check-in a very rigid Virgin Atlantic person said the rule was now one handbag for ladies and only what was absolutely essential for men. So she made DS CHECK his half-empty backpack, which, after he took out his wallet, iPod, and medication, only contained a sketchbook and pencils. She also made DH check his rolling computer case (“no wheeled bags!”), after giving him a flimsy little Virgin Atlantic bag into which to deposit his laptop, Kindle, passports and a few papers. She tagged my “handbag” as OK, even though it was a huge Timbuk 2 bag containing my laptop, journal, medications, magazine, various chargers, trail mix and other “not absolutely essential” stuff, which included what DS sneaked over to me. She was really annoying, but we didn’t want to make a scene since we were already holding up the line.

SECOND SECURITY CHECK: At the normal airport security, we didn’t have to remove shoes, but I apparently represented a security risk because I beeped going through the metal detector and had to have a full body patdown. The only potentially metal items on my person were my glasses, my hair clip, and my underwire bra. I had nothing in my pockets, no belt, and was wearing Uggs. The detector must have been on hypersensitive setting. Not a huge deal, but I’d never set off the machine before. In any case, everything in my carryon passed muster, including my knitting.

THIRD SECURITY CHECK: At the Virgin Atlantic gate, we encountered a HUGE backup in line. That was the first annoyance, that it was so long.  The second annoyance was that they sure as heck allowed plenty of “wheeled bags” that were mondo huge compared to DH’s computer case, as well as huge backpacks that took up way more space than DS’s. The irrational arbitrariness of the “management’s discretion” really irritated me. The third annoyance was that they hand-inspected every bag, made every person remove his shoes, and subjected every person to a full-body patdown, INCLUDING CHILDREN.  Now how exactly does patting down a giggling 8 year-old boy in socks make the world safer for flying?

And the fourth and most upsetting experience was they CONFISCATED my brand new, souvenir $15 Addi Turbo circular knitting needles, size 6, 20″ that I bought specifically for my special London Christmas Clapotis in Cranberry Red. All I could keep saying was, “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? I have to have knitting for the flight.” It broke my heart to pull my WIP off the needles and watch the security chick toss the precious Addis on the floor. I begged her to at least give them to a knitter and not just throw them away, but I’m sure she couldn’t care less.  The other younger and more sympathetic inspector told me she understood, that one lady had cried when they took away her needles. I totally get that. I was jonesing at the mere thought of a 10-1/2 hour flight with no knitting. My darling DH tried to negotiate with them to have a flight attendant carry it on board and give them back at the end, but no dice.

The fifth annoyance was that the entire search and seizure spectacle caused us to take off 1 hour and 55 minutes late. And of course we were seated two rows behind the most upset baby in the universe. The only good news was the in-flight entertainment system was working (it was broken on our flight over) and they got my vegetarian meal request right.

Whew. That felt good. Also, I learned later that Ravelry.com had even worse horror stories than mine about lost heirloom knitting needles on flights all over the place. So I apparently got off easy.

Knitting content: well, nothing on the plane of course. Hopefully, much more to come.

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