POZNAN, POLAND to WARSAW, POLAND
Travel within Poland and feel free to take your laptop and pens with you, just like you did in the good old days. Gel and water are naturally very dangerous and forbidden. You will not have to remove your shoes. Your child is not viewed as a potential terrorist.
WARSAW, POLAND to LONDON HEATHROW
Traveling from Poland to the UK is now a Category VII Pain In The Ass. This is a result of Poland’s Operation Over-React To Everything.
In a country that is 99.9999998% White-Polish-Catholic it seems strange that they would ban all hand luggage on trips from Poland to the UK. I say “strange” mainly because:
1. There was no known terrorist threat from Poland to the UK.
2. The four Middle Eastern people who live in Poland would stick out like a black guy in Bydgoszcz.
One would think that common sense might apply here, but part of Operation Over-React To Everything is to consider everyone a suspect. That includes the old lady who was behind me, and my blonde-haired, blue-eyed 2-year old son.
Melts in your mouth, not your Semtex.
Naturally my son’s M&Ms were not allowed. These small, delicious candies are a dangerous provocation considering they could very well be sugar-coated nuggets of plastic explosive. Assuming my son was recruited by the Wiggles to be an Al Qaeda member, those candies could be pieced together to form an explosive capable of singeing the upholstery on our proletariat-class seat.
Also a no-go: his pretzel sticks. Let’s not forget how much pretzel sticks resemble TNT. Even when small, salty and edible.
Let’s stop this Caca.
When the security personnel informed us that my son’s beloved Caca the Duck would not be allowed, this presented a significant potential problem: The next 21 hours would be sheer hell. He is as attached to his floppy, non-explosive cloth duck as baseball is to steroids. My wife, being clever and speaking Polish as a native, told the security personnel they could try and pry Caca from the child’s hands but we would not be assisting them. The security personnel then conferred over Caca. I’m happy to report they agreed to let my suspicious toddler on board the aircraft with his potentially lethal security ducklet thus sparing us, and all passengers, hours of waterworks. Caca 1 Bullshit 0.
My wife was asked to taste the contents of the boy’s bottle. Fortunately the contents were water and not breast milk – which would have been creepy for her to be tasting. The security personnel paid absolutely no attention to her sip anyway, so it could just as well have been gasoline or Gatorade.
Once we were seated aboard the plane I watched a neighbor produce a very-forbidden cell phone he had managed to smuggle. Fortunately he was not Al Qaeda – as all of Poland isn’t – otherwise he’d have been able to make a forbidden phone call.
The fact that he had a telephone on board whilst our pretzels and M&Ms stayed back in Warsaw made it fairly obvious that Operation Over-React To Everything wasn’t working very well. I came to this conclusion during the book-liquid-magazine-gel-laptop-snack-free two and a half hours it took to get to London.
LONDON, HEATHROW to NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Surprisingly, what should have been the most troublesome leg of the journey was the easiest. Three hours prior to departure Virgin’s check-in was wide open. Aside from a few size restrictions, one carry-on per person was allowed. And though you had to remove your shoes at security you could still bring your laptop. Your book. Your Caca the Duck. It was almost like old times, though had I tried to bring toothpaste I’d no doubt be labeled as a ne’er-do-well.
We watched in amazement as someone – a complete moron who doesn’t watch news – witnessed the confiscation of all the bottles of spices he chose to carry on rather than pack. A lady in a burqa was given extra scrutiny, as I’d expect I’d have been if I showed up at the airport peering through a comforter.
At the gate was a second security check – for some folks. Though it did have an element of randomness to it there was some obvious profiling going on when an a gate agent called off a list of names to come talk to him – and they were all Mohammed al-this and Abdul al-that. In the hall a plainclothes security agent produced a badge and did an on-the-spot passport check of a Middle-Eastern guy. Hey, them’s the times.
Overall traveling kind of blows. But it could be worse. And will be worse when they develop an explosive Caca.