Another day and another rain soaked goodbye in a car park. This time, I’m saying goodbye to the wife at Brussels International Airport, an indistinct collection of drab buildings and long walkways, where people come to cry. Being British, my forte is the quick, emotionless farewell. A short kiss, hug, bad taste joke about America and I’m scurrying away into the terminal for my flight. Some of my fellow travellers are involved in far more extravagant and tearful farewells. It’s all very Gallic.
Sunday morning is always a good time to travel. The airports are never busy, flights always seem to have room and the general calm allows you time to reflect on how much of your personal life your job is now taking up. My flight is to Atlanta via Frankfurt and the start of a 3 week visit to the US. I could take the direct Delta flight from Brussels but then again, I could repeatedly stab myself in the eye with a sharp stick. Both would be painful and both would be pointless – but the Delta flight more so.
The way I look at it is this. If I am to die horribly in a plane crash, I would very much like it to be caused by a moments aberration on the part of a high skilled, German, Lufthansa Technik engineer as opposed to the inevitable stupidity of a de-motivated Delta guy who has spent the last 12 months looking redundancy squarely in the eyes.
Quite how people can run bankrupt airlines is beyond me. Having spent most of last few years in Chapter 11, I’d have expected a substantial part of Delta’s fleet to simply have fallen out of the sky by now as despondent ground crew eventually lost interest in the continuing safety of the overpaid pilots who put the company into bankruptcy in the first place. This has not happened yet but I suspect it’s coming.
Arriving at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson airport always leads to mixed emotions. First, relief that 11 hours of sitting on my ass in a small seat has finally come to an end. Second, abject despondency at the ludicrous security measures I now have to go through before I can at last enter the “land of the free”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of security with my flying and I have no real desire to be the next infidel that Osama get’s to exact his revenge on. However, I do think there should be limits. For example, once I’ve checked in at the European airport, I have to go through the scanners and have my bags checked and that should be enough. However, if I am flying to the US, I then have to go through the whole process again before boarding. I presume this to be because the US security people don’t trust their European counterparts to operate a baggage scanner to any degree of competence.
Upon arrival in the US, once you have got off the plane, had your picture taken and your fingerprints scanned, they scan you and your baggage again on the way out of the airport! Clearly, this begs some important questions. First, if they don’t trust either of the baggage scans done in Europe (the US mandated one or the one you get regardless of destination) then why do them? Second, having already managed to get your explosive device past 2 different scans before take off, why would you not then take advantage of this good fortune and blow the bloody plane up? Surely that’s the purpose of you having a bomb in the first place?