Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Danger is my Middle Name

'You've been selected' says the guard screening passengers in the security line at the Chicago airport. 'Coincidentally', my four travelling companions were also selected.

The flight that we initially planned to take was among the five hundred that were cancelled by American Airlines. The good news was that there were a range of other flight options to New York and we were travelling light. The bad news was (understandably) that five people (with unusual names) booking a flight to New York less than two hours before its departure and checking no bags registers as a red flag in the airline world.

Translation: full service security screen.

The thorough pat down was flattering, but probably unnecessary since my clothes are fitting so tight these days that you could tell if I had goosebumps just by looking closely. Professional and authoritative, Joan (my new best friend) conducted a 'routine' swab of all of my stuff. My bag set off the alarm. Then my computer. Then my running shoes. Then my hands. She looked distressed. While I'm sure there were numerous contributing factors, being in my presence appeared to be one of them. By this time, my section of the security area was in virtual lockdown. Joan initiated a second full screening process (pat down included). 

I failed, again.

When I inquired as to what she was testing for, she would tell me only that it would require someone 'in a higher pay bracket' to solve the problem. I soon discovered that this meant two Important Looking Men (ILM) and a Bomb Appraisal Officer (BAO). One of the ILMs questioned me, while the other ILM walked around, closely examining my passport and very carefully observing my body language. Meanwhile, the BAO verified that my undergarments were not a threat to national security. 

Forty five minutes later, I was permitted to go.

My curiosity and bewilderment made the process almost fun for me - it was bizarre to have others so concerned about me, when I knew that I posed no threat at all.

My only frustration is not knowing what triggered the alarm. How do I avoid this in the future? Am I exposed to something dangerous to my health? It will be interesting to see what happens on my way home on Friday!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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April 28, 2010 at 3:37:00 PM MDT  

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